What’s the matter with sons who treat their mothers poorly, we wonder? Whenever we’re thinking of people who affect the way we grow, behave, and turn out, we have to think of our mothers because they’re the ones who matter the most. But what things happen that can affect the relationship between a mother and a son?
Whether we agree with that or not, mothers are often shamed for the type of relationship they have with their sons.
When we’re there for our sons at all times, we’re accused of being too attached, overbearing, or controlling. When we’re trying to be more on the outside of whatever’s going on, we’re accused of not caring enough and not offering enough support.
We can’t seem to win, right? On the other hand, there are times when we (because we care about our sons so much) don’t notice what we’re doing wrong.
We don’t want our sons to make the same mistakes we did, and that’s why we demand to know everything they’re doing and who they’re doing that with. We don’t want our sons to turn out bad, and that’s why we don’t give them the benefit of the doubt or the chance to express what they want.
Whatever the reason might be, we want you to understand that we’re not trying to excuse or account for sons who treat their mothers poorly. We are, however, trying to understand what pushes your son to start behaving that way and what you can do to make sure your family stays strong, healthy, and happy throughout such difficult times.
What does an unhealthy relationship between a mother and a son look like?
When we’re talking about dysfunctional relationships between mothers and sons, more often than not we’re talking about both the mother and the son trying to get something from each other.
An Oedipal mother-son relationship, on one hand, means that the son perceives the mother as competition. When you’re dealing with an Oedipal mother-son relationship, you’re probably dealing with a son who’s bursting with anger and resentment, and trying to compete with her over pretty much everything.
On the other hand, an enmeshed mother-son relationship happens when both of them start blurring the boundaries. Oftentimes, the son’s conditioned to think he needs to take care of her (rather than the other way around) and he needs to put his life on hold which causes anger and resentment.
Finally, a distant mother-son relationship means that there’s no bond between them (whoever’s to blame for that). Often, the son thinks that she doesn’t understand what he wants or needs, or even that she doesn’t care.
Of course, there are other types of mother-son relationships, but these are the most common ones that cause sons to treat their mothers poorly.
With all three of these types of relationships, sons typically show anger and resentment by treating their mothers with contempt, neglecting their mother’s boundaries, failing to show any affection towards their mother, and making fun of their mother on a regular.
We would also have to mention that some sons go even further by emotionally abusing or physically assaulting their mother (a matter which should always be addressed with the assistance of a professional).
Why do sons treat their mothers poorly?
1. Because the mother’s overbearing and controlling
“Mother knows best,” but there are times when mothers overstep the boundaries, manage their children’s lives, and demand to be the center of attention.
Mothers who are overbearing and controlling don’t even know what they’re doing wrong because they’re seen as the epitome of a good mother – they’re strict and sturdy, and they know how to discipline their children.
However, those mothers also have high expectations and punish their children when they don’t meet or exceed those expectations.
Those mothers say things such as “I know what’s best for you!” and “You have to do that because I said so!” Those mothers end up with children (especially sons) who don’t know how to set healthy boundaries because they’re scared.
2. Because the mother’s overstepping the boundaries
Now, sons who treat their mothers poorly often resort to unwanted, unexpected strategies because their mother’s overstepping their boundaries.
Whether she’s manipulating him, controlling him, or demanding to know what he’s doing and who he’s spending time with, chances are she doesn’t care whether he approves of that or not.
We all have boundaries for a reason – we don’t want other people affecting the way we choose to behave, what we choose to wear or eat, where we choose to go out, and who we choose to go out with.
Controlling mothers, however, don’t understand what they’re doing when they’re demanding things such as “You can’t date her because I don’t like her!” or “You can’t go to that college because that’s not the one I planned for you!”
Because of those things, their sons often think they don’t have a different choice but to treat their mothers poorly to make a point. However, mothers aren’t always the only ones to blame.
3. Because of childhood trauma caused by physical or emotional abuse (by the mother or other members of the family)
We can’t forget that sons who treat their mothers poorly often do that because they were treated poorly, too. Whether they’ve been physically or emotionally abused by their mother, their family, or even their friends, they might not even be aware that they’re doing something wrong.
They’re angry at the world, and the only way they know how to manage such strong emotions happens to be to abuse those who are closest to them. They’re pushing everyone away from them because they don’t think they can trust anyone (because the trust they had was broken when they were younger).
4. Because of the “bad boy behavior” celebrated on different media platforms
Whether we’re talking about a son who’s a teenager or an adult, we can’t undermine the effect media tends to have on both men and women. While women have to manage unattainable beauty standards, men have to figure out how to be strong, masculine, alpha men, or real men.
We would go as far as to argue that even little boys sense the pressure to behave like a “bad boy” to appease the rest of their friend group.
Caring for their mothers, treating their mothers with respect, and showing affection to their mothers means that they’re going to be known as “mama’s boys” and that’s what they’re trying to evade.
5. Because of a dysfunctional relationship with someone other than the mother
When we’re talking about older sons who treat their mothers poorly, we can’t forget about the possibility that they’re having a dysfunctional relationship with someone who’s urging them to treat their mothers that way.
Maybe they’re struggling with a partner who’s turning them against their family, making them unhappy, and making them rethink everything they’re doing. Perhaps they’re trying to fit within a friend group that looks down on “mama’s boys.”
Whatever the case might be, there’s a chance someone outside the family’s making them behave that way. While he might be going through a phase, he also might be struggling with mental health which requires a cautious approach.
What to do when your son treats you poorly?
1. Understand where he’s coming from and understand the responsibility you, as a mother, have toward your son
Communication’s always a great way to start. Whether he’s angry with you because of something you’ve done or he’s acting out because of something that’s going on outside of your relationship, you should try to arrange a conversation where both of you can talk about what you’re going through.
Attempt to understand where he’s coming from, even when you want to argue that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about or that you’re doing that because you love him. Attempt to take responsibility for your actions toward your son, and only then the two of you might have a chance to mend the relationship.
2. Respect your son’s boundaries and be supportive of your son’s wishes, dreams, and passions
“Mother knows best,” but you might not even be aware of the effect you have on your son when you cross the boundaries he has set or when you belittle the attempts he makes to become more self-sufficient and self-assured.
When you get the confirmation that you’re the one causing your son anxiety, there’s nothing you can do other than start respecting the boundaries he has set beforehand to be supportive of whatever he’s doing.
We know you don’t want to agree with everything he’s doing, but you have to trust him enough to give him space to make his own decisions (and his own mistakes, too).
3. Don’t shy away from getting professional assistance
Now, sons who treat their mothers poorly don’t necessarily respond positively from the moment you confront them. There’s also a chance your son might not want to mend your relationship or even work on making your relationship better.
When that happens, don’t shy away from scheduling an appointment with a therapist. Whether you decide to go on your own, to go with your son, or to have your son go without you, you’re guaranteed to get guidance and advice on how to handle the situation the best way possible. Good luck!