Blow Up Your Relationship with Your Mother – And Get One Step Closer to Being the Man You Want to Be

by A Manly Guest Contributor on January 12, 2011 · 118 comments

in Relationships & Family

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Wayne M. Levine, M.A.

If you want a very quick take on how important this article may be to your future happiness and success as a man, honestly assess your reaction to its title.

What did you feel? Were you aghast? Did it offend you? Did it piss you off? Are you utterly confused? If you’re this guy, you DESPERATELY need the wisdom found below.

Were you intrigued by the title? Did it resonate with you for some unknown reason? Did it make you smile? If you’re this guy, you also DESPERATELY need this wisdom. The difference is, it may be much easier for you to take action.

And if it turns out that you have already taken this courageous action, terrific. You’re now in a mature relationship with your mother. Good for you, and for those around you.

If you other good (or not so good) little boys want to feel what it’s like to be a real man, a real man in your relationship with your mother—and ultimately, a real man in your relationship with a significant other—then pay close attention. If you follow the advice you’re about to receive, you will never be the same. And that’ll be a good thing!

Damn That Little Boy

We’re having this conversation because something isn’t working in your life. And one place you can see it manifest is in your relationship with your mother.

You may be in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, even 60s. But when you’re visiting your mom, or having a phone conversation with her, you feel like that little boy having to obey her rules, feeling compelled to argue with her, angry as hell, or terribly sad, with how she makes you feel with her words, her “looks,” or the attitude you know so well.

You’re nodding your head. Your stomach is tightening. Your breathing has become a bit shallow. Do you know why? Well, we’re talking about you and your pain. You have felt it for years. Your girlfriends, wife, buddies, and kids have seen what happens to you when you’re in the presence of your “mommy.” What the hell is going on?

Here is where the wisdom begins. Take a deep breath. You can change what’s going on between your ears, and that will change your relationship with your mother, and that will change everything for you as a man.

Weak vs. Powerful

When you’re with your mother, or just having thoughts or a discussion about her, and you find yourself angry, resentful, sad, withdrawn, irritable, silent, withholding, stubborn, argumentative, or just numb, you are what many of us guys in the men’s biz would call “not in your power.” You know when you’re not in your power. You can feel it. You just might not have ever labeled it. You’re not in your power when you feel weak, stuck, paralyzed, victimized, and in the problem. And you feel weak when these negative feelings take hold.

How did this happen? Well, you had help. When you were young, you learned how a man behaves with, responds to, and deals with women. Your greatest teacher, for better or worse, was probably dad.

Whatever your circumstances, a young boy learns from his parents (or other adults) how to thrive or survive in relationships. Depending on the level of dysfunction in your family of origin, you may have had to develop some very interesting coping skills.

For example, if dad was a coward, and mom grew to be (in your eyes) an angry, controlling “bitch”, you know very well how to “please” mommy so as to avoid her wrath. Or, dad may have left (divorced, died, abandoned, abused, etc.) the family when you were young, and mom bestowed upon you her resentment toward men.

What happens for these unfortunate boys is that they grow up to be self-hating men. These men unconsciously do not trust other men or themselves. For these guys, being who they are—men—is shameful. As a result, they relinquish all power to the women in their lives, without even being asked. This offering up of men’s power is one of the main contributors to women feeling unsafe, insecure, and, ultimately, resentful and angry. (A fabulous topic for a future post.)

To relinquish power is to be other than the man you want to be in a given situation. You don’t speak up. You avoid conflict in the face of intolerable circumstances. You lie to appease. You lie to yourself, attempting to believe that you are not disappointed or even disgusted with your own behavior.

Back to mom.

Mama’s Boy

Though this will probably not come as news to you, you are a “mama’s boy.” You don’t like that diagnosis? You want a second opinion? OK. You never feel, honestly, as if you measure up as a real man. There’s your second opinion.

Your primary concern is in pleasing your mother, trying not to worry her, worrying about her and how she feels, trying to change your mother, annoying your wife with your concerns about your mom, arguing with your mom, letting your mom dictate family schedules, allowing her gift of guilt to guide your choices… must I go on? This is so painful. Let’s get out of this problem and into the solution, shall we? Let’s blow up this relationship and give you the opportunity to finally be the man, husband, and father you want to be, and that your family needs.

“Blow up? That sounds so violent, Wayne, so unnecessarily macho. Couldn’t you communicate this concept in a more professional, therapeutic way, a way that honors me, my mother and our relationship?” Mmmmm, let me think…NO! Grow up.

There’s nothing to be honored about your current “good little boy” relationship with your mother. It has run its course. You no longer have any need of it. It needs to be jettisoned, like a rocket booster that’s out of fuel. It’s killing you, killing your relationship with your woman, compromising your effectiveness as a father, and keeping you weak as a man in every part of your life. Got it? Let’s blow this “muthah” up, move on, and be the best man, husband, father, and son you can be!

Blowing Up Your Relationship

Ultimately, you’re going to create a whole new relationship with your mother. It’ll be a mature relationship, on your terms. It’ll be loving, attentive, helpful, considerate—whatever you want it to be. But it won’t be like the old relationship. And as difficult as it may be for you to imagine this change in your life, I can assure that I, and many men I’ve coached, have made the transition and have lived, happily, to tell of it. Here’s what you’ll want to do:

Set Your Terms

I teach men to develop and honor their N.U.T.s, non-negotiable, unalterable terms. Without these terms, expect nothing to change. With these terms, everything is possible. Remember, these are changes in you, in your thought process and in your behavior.

We’re not talking about changing others, though you changing may very well motivate others to change in response. Blowing up your little boy relationship with your mother doesn’t require anything of her. This is where you start to take back your power.

Here are a few terms (N.U.T.s) to consider:

When she becomes critical, our conversation is over. (Because you will no longer conduct conversations with your mother that you would not conduct with any other human being.)

The needs of my new family supercede those of my mother. (Because you want to be happily married. This doesn’t mean you can’t accommodate and care for your mother in an appropriate manner.)

When my mother visits, the conditions of her visit will first be agreed upon by me and my wife. (Because you need to remember whose life and house you’re responsible for.)

My mother will not be left alone with, or allowed to drive, my kids. (Because you do not trust her, or she has lost her capacity to responsibly care for your children or to drive an automobile. You are responsible for making this call, period.)

I will no longer try to change, correct, or argue with my mother. (Because I no longer need to be right, or work on my own issues through my mother. What I have to change in me, I will address. She’s responsible for her own life, choices, and growth.)

Make No Announcements

You can’t ask for permission to be the man you want to be. So don’t try doing so here. There’s no need to alert the media about this change in your intentions. There’s no need to make any form of announcement to your mother, or to anyone else, though it’s perfectly fine to include your wife in your plans.

Grab your balls and act. At your first opportunity, honor your new N.U.T. If you’re really being the man you want to be, nothing she does or say can truly keep you from following through.

She will definitely be unhappy with you. But eventually, if you’re consistent, she will learn that if she wants to have a relationship with her son, she will have to conform. This works. It REALLY does. You don’t have to explain a thing. You’ll just have to tell her, ONCE, that if she insists on doing that thing she does that is no longer acceptable to you, you will end the conversation.

Get Support

As you can already anticipate, this is going to be, possibly, enormously difficult for you. It will upset you. You will find yourself in doubt and fear. You might feel guilty that you are somehow “slowly killing your mother.” You might believe what she tells you about yourself. All of this is to be expected. It’s the fire you must go through. But you don’t have to go through it alone. You’ll need support.

That support should come from other men. Let a man, or circle of men, hold you accountable, prop you up, and encourage you to stay the course. Chances are, these other guys have to do the same demolition to their own relationships with mom.

You Must Remember This

You must remember that this process has nothing to do with blaming your mother. The problem is that you already do. What’s being suggested here is to stop blaming her, to start accepting her for who she is, and then relating to her as an adult who needs nothing from her, rather than a little boy who is completely dependent upon her.

And this can happen even if your mother has already passed. You can still—and you must—honor her for having done her best, and accept her for whatever you saw as her shortcomings. Then, let her know, in your own way, that you no longer need her to mother you, and that you have matured into a grown man. You’re ready to cut the apron strings. Create a ritual, and take this exercise seriously. Let your mother know, and let it sink into your own heart, that you love her and thank her for having done her best.

If you’ve always had a loving, respectful relationship with your mother, and have never felt anger toward her, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not angry and that you don’t need to create a new, mature relationship with her. For many good little boys, being angry with mom was—something you learned as a child— totally unacceptable. Allow yourself the opportunity to become completely conscious and assess your true feelings for and relationship with mom. Consider how your unexpressed anger with her may be seeping out onto your girlfriend, wife, daughter, and other relationships with women.

When you blow up this relationship, and allow yourself to have a mature, loving relationship with your mother, your life and all of your relationships will forever be altered. You’ll feel more like the man you want to be, and you’ll be more the husband and father your family needs you to be.

I encourage you to do the work necessary to get clear about your current relationship with your mother. If you have the courage to do this work, you’ll see you have the courage to face any challenge in your life.


Wayne M. Levine, M.A. is the director of in Agoura Hills, CA, where he life coaches and mentors men to be the best men, fathers, husbands and leaders they can be. He also coaches women, couples and teens. Wayne facilitates several weekly men’s groups, and created the BetterMen Retreat for men. Wayne, a relationship expert, is the author of the best-selling “Hold On to Your N.U.T.s—The Relationship Manual for Men.


{ 118 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David Mosley January 12, 2011 at 10:38 am

Here’s a question for you. What do you do when still somewhat financially dependent on your parents. I’m in my 20s and in school. My parents are paying for my schooling and helping me prepare to go to school in England next year. I really want the things you are talking about and have some of them, but when it comes to money I feel like I have to be careful because of the financial assistance my parents (specifically my mother) are providing. How do alter the relationship in a way that, hopefully, won’t end in a serious amount of debt for me and my wife?

2 Neil A. January 12, 2011 at 10:47 am

I’d say this is a gauntlet that most men need to get thru. My men friends and I have talked about this as a need to “kill your mother” (metaphorically) in order to actualize as a man.
It took years of battle and a period of refusing to even speak to my mother to teach her to begin to see and respect me as a grown man.
As a result our relationship grew and blossomed to where I had nothing to prove and could accept her and offer her unstinting love and service.
The ultimate compliment and blessing came when I cared for her during her last two weeks of life. She told me that I had been a wonderful son and had nothing to feel bad or guilty about.

3 Lee Nelson January 12, 2011 at 10:47 am

I blew up my relationship with my mom a year-and-a-half ago. Best thing I ever did.

4 Jim McIntyre January 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

All of this article is true. A late mentor of mine advised me to do just what is described above and it revolutionized my relationship with my wife. If you want to your wife to be your #1 friend and admirer, turn the tables on your mom. Your relationship with your wife will drastically improve in all respects. I blew up my relationship with my mom when I was 30. I am now 44. My wife and I have been married 18 years and we have a deep meaningful relationship that gets better everyday. A happily married man is a happy man indeed.

5 gargoyle January 12, 2011 at 11:19 am

Iron John: A Book About Men, by Robert Bly

6 Theodorus January 12, 2011 at 11:26 am

This post comes at the very self same moment this is happening in my life.

Just prior to Christmas, my mother was due to visit us (she lives around 150 miles away). My children and me were ill so I asked her to postpone until we were better.

On the Sunday afternoon, there’s a knock on my door from her and my step father, turned up out of the blue, not respecting my decisions as an adult (I turned 30 last year!) for my home and family. Normally I probably would have let her in but this time I turned her away, as I had specifically asked her not to come.

She was upset but phoned me a few weeks later and we’re meeting up soon with a new and healthier relationship. I feel more empowered as a man and its led to me making other decisions in my life that I may not have had the balls to do before.

7 Dave January 12, 2011 at 11:38 am

You got anything on blowing up a wifes relationship with her mother??? That is what I need now.

I went through this process a few years back and it has been fantastic ever since. When my daughter was born my mother moved closer to help take care of her while my wife and I continued to work. This developed into her moving in with us the next time we moved “It was only temporary and most convienient”. I realized I could not live with both a mother and a wife in the same house. Mom had to go!

We have since relocated to another state and her visits are looked forward to and very pleasant, she takes care of my daughters while my wife and I take a vacation together. When it is time for her to go, no one has any problems letting the others know it is time. We are able to talk on a different level and no ones feelings are involved just opinions. My wife and my mother enjoy spending the time together and get along.

A great process in the longrun and well worth it…. now for her mother….

8 Lexie January 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm

This is the strangest article I’ve ever read. I had no idea this was a real thing with guys, it makes me think twice about if i have a son, and how to raise him. Maybe I’ll factor in the “blow-up day” so it’s not a surprise. :)

9 John Factorial January 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm

I wonder how useful this article really is. I don’t know a lot of men who act or feel this way toward their mothers. Do you, fellow readers?

My mother is frankly one of the very few people in this world who loves and appreciates me for exactly who I am, and I love her deeply for it. I can’t imagine feeling about her the way this article insinuates many men do. If my actions displease her, she either keeps it to herself or feels comfortable sharing her opinion with me knowing that I will consider her wisdom while making my own decisions.

10 MasterRanger January 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Talk about nail-on-the-head. Great article

11 Christopher Haire January 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm

There is a good book about the necessity of this called The Mom Factor. By Doctors Cloud and Townsed. It is very helpful as it goes into the impact, both positive and negative, mother can have on boys, and the severe need to cut the apron strings.

12 Natascha January 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I’ve been reading this blog for several months now and this is probably the most important post of advice I’ve read so far.

If you don’t mind a woman’s perspective: Do not expect a lady to take you serious and respect you as a grown man when you’re still under mom’s thumb in some way. I’ve recently read a statistic that 50 % of “men” between 20 and 30 years of age still live with their mother. Depressing, isn’t it?

If you’ll let her walk over you, chances are that any woman you want to get close with will either be put off by your codependence, or try to control you in the same way your mother does.

So my advice to #1 David would be to become financially independent of your parents as quickly as possible. Get a job to pay for your tuition fees, if you already have a job, get a second job. It may take longer for you to graduate and be a lot more stressful, but it’s worth it when you’re suffering from parents who use money to lord over you.

Remember that it is your own choice to remain in a situation where you feel powerless. You can turn the tables at any time, but you have to be able to take the hits. The thought pattern of “I need my parents to pay for my education another two or three years, THEN I can finally get away from them” is one that will lead you nowhere in life. You’ll just be another manboy who procrastinates on the really big choices in life instead of taking action NOW, and your parents probably won’t be the last people to control you.

I’ve emancipated myself from my parents when I was 17, one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made. We’ve had a horrible relationship when I lived with them and that relationship recovered quickly when I moved out, especially with my mom.

On the downside – I could probably have gone to college at age 17 with their support, and it took me five more years, a lot of hard work and a way lower standard of living than I was accustomed to, to get there on my own. As I said – you have to be able to take the hits. In the end you’ll enjoy your success all the more when you’ve achieved it on your own.

13 VAGuy January 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm

I wish I could say this was easy to do, but it’s not. However it is essential. in my case, I didn’t speak to my mother for five years to finally blow her up – primarily because I needed first to find my N.U.T.s and then allow both of us to grow to a point where I could enforce them and, because I enforced them she respected them. Since then, I am pleased that we have had a relationship that has grown into a strong and vibrant friendship.

14 Eric January 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm

And for the guys who aren’t into emotional drama, you can develop a mature relationship with your mother without all this hyperbole, simply by executing the decision making and intrapersonal skils you have learned as an adult. Somewhere in my mid 20′s my mom and I had a period where our relationship just matured. It wasn’t painful and dramatic, in fact it was rather pleasant. I think she was kind of glad to see me grow up, and had been worried I might not. And I was glad to see her start saying things like, “Well that’s your decision to make, and I know you’ll make the right one.” or when she disagreed with me, saying things like, “That’s not what I would do, but you’re not me.” Those aren’t the kinds of responses I got as a teenager!

Granted, I stopped being financially dependant on my parents around the age of 20, and that had a lot to do with it. But here’s the thing, for those of you trying to get out of the nest: being financially indepent from my parents at age 20 meant I had to live for 4 years in a trailer park in a shady part of town (for humility’s sake, everyone should live in a trailer park for at least a year… for humanity’s sake, nobody should do it for more than 5 years). And my parents could have certainly afforded to help me out financially so I could live a cushier life in a nicer place, but I never once looked at that as an option, in spite of their constant barrage of offers. You can’t have an adult relationship with your parents, mom or dad, until you are an adult. And adults make their own way.

15 Eric January 12, 2011 at 3:01 pm

John Factorial,

I sort of had the same reaction as you when I read the article, especially the part about “My mother will not be left alone with, or allowed to drive, the kids.”
Anybody who has to put those kinds of conditions on grandma has some family issues. This article seems to assume that all mothers refuse to allow their sons to grow up, or try to keep a thumb on them, and while that is certainly true for some mothers I don’t believe it is a near universal rule (here’s a near universal rule: you can never trust your mother to give you an opinion that relies on having an unbiased view of your strengths and faults).

But it is certainly an issue a lot of men can relate to, as witnessed by the comments.

16 Alex January 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

This is so true. I did this years ago and it changed my life and her life. We have never gotten along better.

I did make a minor announcement to her as she was grappling with how much I have changed and was implying that my associations at the time were a bad influence.

I simply let her know that while she’s my mother, we are both grown up adults and as such can choose to play active roles in each others lives, or not so much depending on the quality of our time together.

It took her a while to stop playing the mom power tricks but when my response was entirely consistent she realized that it got her nowhere and she let it all go.

Thanks for writing this.

17 Gal @ Equally Happy January 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I wish I had read this 10 years ago. I went through a long and very troubled period of time with my mother that could have been resolved a lot quicker with this advice.

Yes, I am the product of a household where dad left (he spent most of his time at work) and a mom who resented and was scared of men. I don’t blame her (or him) for this, they did the best they could, but it definitely had an impact on me. Getting through those issues was what enabled me to be the strong man that I am today and carry on a healthy relationship with the fabulous woman in my life.

18 Steven C January 12, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I tried this before last summer. It didn’t go as planned probably because I am still in college and financially dependent. It sucks because I have so much resentment for her weakness as a mother of two sons and a daughter and a wife. I don’t know what it is but not a day goes buy where I tell myself that I don’t hate her but I fear this not true. She made some terrible choices but has managed to maintain a steady job. I on the other hand have huge relationship issues with ladies and man friends. Maybe I just need to get a girlfriend and finally get laid and quit worrying about my siblings or her terrible influence on them and start worrying about myself.

Does this sound selfish?

19 Adam Snider January 12, 2011 at 5:10 pm

While I’m not surprised that there is a need for this sort of article—I’ve seen “mama’s boy” syndrome among many of my friends—I’m surprised at just how many men are expressing the need to do this. I didn’t realize this was as common a problem as it seems to be.

My experience was much more similar to what Eric described: the relationship matured naturally.

I moved out of my parents’ house almost immediately after university and was certainly not going to ask them for financial help, even when I was struggling to buy groceries, so I think my mother saw that I had grown up and could stand on my own two feet. As a result, our relationship matured naturally.

Sure, she is my mother and I am her son, but we relate to one another as two adults, rather than as an adult and an overgrown child.

20 Bruce Egert January 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Agreed. But it is difficult when there is a passive-aggressive style or a skillful avoidance technique in effect at all times.

21 Brian January 12, 2011 at 5:39 pm

I think a lot of the problem also lies with the mothers themselves not wanting to let go. My mom did not want me to move out. She told us (my brother and I) that we will always be her “little babies”, even when we’re 50! She has gone back on that statement and now respects that my brother and I are adults who don’t really need her anymore, but I know that emotionally hurts her since her function as a mother is to care for her children. I think it’s important that BOTH of you understand that when you become and adult, you are now a self-reliant man and don’t need mothering. The cord needs to be cut, do it already.

22 Adam January 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm

“You’re nodding your head. Your stomach is tightening. Your breathing has become a bit shallow.”

Quite the opposite. I started chortling, then chuckling, then full-on laughter. If mom gives me “attitude,” I poke her in the ribs. It’s the same reaction I get from her if I start to act out. The only time I was ever made to feel like a disappointment was once, back in grade school, when I was caught lying and totally deserved it. Mom used to joke that there was a bootprint tattooed on my behind so she’d know where to kick me out the door when it was time for college.

My point is that mom nurtured independence. She wanted my brother and I to not only function but thrive — and she made sure that if she and dad unexpectedly kicked it, or if I went to school 3000 miles away from home, or they won the lottery and spent six months out of the year in Europe, we could do so independently. It worked. Since our early teens we were treated as PEOPLE, not as her precious babies.

Then again, mom graduated from high school a year early so that she could get out of her podunk town ASAP to pursue a (now-defunct) dream of being a Foreign Service Officer, so she’s probably unlike most moms out there. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

23 Joe January 12, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I usually enjoy the articles here but I have to say in my opinion i did not, if only for it’s approach to the subject. A mature relationship with your mother doesn’t require you to “blow up” you’re relationship with her first. That sounds like what a boy would say about what he thinks would be part of becoming a man. You just need to change you’re mind set about their jabs and advice. As you grow up, you need your parents less and less, and they realize this but they’ll never truly except it. Part of a mature relationship with either of them is letting them feel like they’re still in the drivers seat once and a while. Mother’s will always point out what they think you’re doing wrong, but not getting annoyed and even if your just pretending to listen, she’ll still feel important. She did give you life and wiped your ass and cleaned up your messes and she wouldn’t trade it for the world. I don’t care, you do owe her at least that.

24 Justin January 12, 2011 at 9:20 pm

This might well be one of the worst articles I’ve read on this site. Maybe I’m some rare exception, but I doubt it. I was raised up that I should respect my elders, and I would receive the same in kind. A mature relationship with your own family does not require a man to act like an ass and “lay down the law”. The idea that being defensive of your kin folk, specifically your mother, makes you somehow less of a man is both offensive and sad.

25 Ryan January 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I am glad to hear that others have completed this step sucsessfully. I began this process in the summer, along with my brothers, who proptly left me to do it own my own. I am married now, and thankfully my wife does give me support in this matter.

As for the blowing up, I do not think this means go out and create a problem to cause a large argument, stop talking to her, and wait for her to come back to you. I see this as an way to evaluate the relationship on a level above that of a child. This is a change, meant for those whose mothers still run their lives, openly or through coersion, and for those who have a less than perfect relationship with their mother.

If you have an amazing relationship with your mother, then I applaud you. For the rest of us, there is something that happens to the relationship when we mature and go our own way, that drives a wedge between mother and son. This article shows a way to move past that, and reconnect on a much better level than before.

26 Will Mitchell January 12, 2011 at 10:41 pm

You can throw me in with Justin, Joe, and the others who didn’t like this article. I haven’t cared much for Wayne Levine, M.A. (his mother just calls him “Master”) or his N.U.T.s in the past, but this is just a bad, insulting article.

If not “blowing up” (as if it’s some sort of demolition) my relationship with my mother makes me half a man, then so be it. I, too, was raised to respect my elders, but my mother has always given me respect, provided I’d earned it, and understood my boundaries. We have a loving, happy relationship, and I’d rather continue living as a mama’s boy than risk losing it.

Theodore Roosevelt was a mama’s boy. Let’s not forget that.

27 Harrison January 12, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Maybe I need to read it again, but everything in this article seems to contravene the entire spirit and purpose of this website. I cringed when I read the title and quickly assumed it was a bad parody, but then continued in absolute befuddlement. Whoever this author is and whatever his credentials, he espousing the sort of pseudo-manly “masculism” that has created rifts between the sexes throughout history.

The comments seem to indicate that some readers indeed have had serious family issues growing up, and I’m glad that they’ve been able to take the first steps to solving them. But to issue blanket encomia urging young men to treat their parents as business associates at best and strangers at worst, or even to hint that a “manly” relationship with one’s mother is usurping the role of one’s father (and I hope the author’s fate isn’t as bleakly Oedipal as it seems destined to be), is insulting, degrading, and harmful.

Honoring your mother is, well, the fourth oldest law in history. It will be impossible to refer more readers to this site if it continues to publish this asinine garbage.

28 Steve Adam January 13, 2011 at 12:28 am

I’ll throw my lot in with Harrison, Justin, and Joe.

I had a period of conflict with my parents as a teen, but I am happy that I have a positive, mutually respectful relationship with my mother. She lives in a different country, so it’s not as if I depend on her to wash my socks, but I also respect them and what they have to say. It doesn’t mean that I always agree with them or live for their approval. I don’t think it makes you more manly to ditch her or disrespect her. I get the fact that there are people who need to cut the apron strings and move on from being emasculated or dominated by the need to tailor every decision to please their mother (or their father, for that matter), but that does not necessitate an irrational pendulum swing to the land of barely acknowledging her.

In fact, I think maturity dictates that you don’t, for several reasons. First, if there is someone who elicits such strong reactions in you, even reactions of intentional neglect, they actually, ironically, are controlling you. A mature relationship is not petulantly pressing your mother out of your life. That’s what being a teenager is for. Maintaining personal boundaries — this includes preferring the interests of your wife to those of your mother — while maintaining an appreciation for her as a person is the legit way to go. You seem like a child throwing a tantrum when you do otherwise, not a confident man.

Secondly, if it is wrong to treat an unrelated friend like this, it may be wrong to treat your mother in this way. To walk away as soon as she disagrees with you is fairly small. I believe it takes strength to assess someone disagreeing with you and to decide on their advice independently. Just because she gave birth to you doesn’t mean that she is ignorant.

Thirdly, as Harrison said, it’s simply right to show respect to your parents. That doesn’t mean that you’re not an independent adult, but cutting the apron strings isn’t synonymous with shutting someone out.

With that being said, I fully realize that some mothers are easier to deal with than others. I genuinely feel badly for those of you who have very, very difficult mothers. I’ve seen it from a distance, and it looks brutal. I just hope that, with one’s gained self-respect and spine, comes forgiveness and respect.

And not leaving her alone with the grand-children? Seriously?

29 Steve Harrington January 13, 2011 at 1:02 am

Justin: “A mature relationship with your own family does not require a man to act like an ass and “lay down the law”.

Harrison: “urging young men to treat their parents as business associates at best and strangers at worst, or even to hint that a “manly” relationship with one’s mother is usurping the role of one’s father”

Steve: “I don’t think it makes you more manly to ditch her or disrespect her. I get the fact that there are people who need to cut the apron strings and move on from being emasculated or dominated by the need to tailor every decision to please their mother (or their father, for that matter), but that does not necessitate an irrational pendulum swing to the land of barely acknowledging her.”

I’m sorry that this comment is going to be so detailed, but I’ve never seen such utterly moronic statements in my life and I’m seriously disturbed about the lack of reading comprehension skills of these men. I thought men on this site were a cut above in intelligence, but I guess not.

The guys above are blowing a bunch hot air-where does the article say not to respect your mother and to treat her like a stranger?

Here’s what I read:

“Ultimately, you’re going to create a whole new relationship with your mother. It’ll be a mature relationship, on your terms. It’ll be loving, attentive, helpful, considerate—whatever you want it to be.”

What I read-if you have a healthy relationship, then that’s great. If you don’t, if your mom is controlling or critical or expects you to put her above your new family, then you need to stand up for yourself, and that might mean a period where you’re more distant before you reestablish the relationship on better terms.

Hey Brett-maybe you should publish cliff notes with some posts to help the slower readers out there!

30 bc January 13, 2011 at 2:01 am

Dear Steve, Harrison, Justin, and Joe.

You are all missing the point. There must, in all Parent/Child relationships, come a point where the parent must recognise that their offspring are no longer children to be protected, or told what to do, but that they are adults, perfectly capable of making thier own decisions.

There are many parents who simply cannot cross that bridge, and in these cases, and for the good of the relationship, the son or daughter has to make a stand, and the parent must abide by that decision. As to showing respect, well I am sure that if it must be done, it can be done respectfully. However, sometimes shutting someone else out is the only way to cut the apron strings.

This is the side effect of the situation we have of too many men being raised by women. As a parent, I hope to help my kids, and especially my son, relate well to their mother. As a husband, I need to help my wife relate to young men.

31 James Marwood January 13, 2011 at 5:46 am

I find myself nodding an agreement with John, Eric, Adam Joe and the others have said above.

I see no value in talking about ‘Blowing up’ any relationship or setting rules like not allowing your mother to drive your kids. Simply be an adult man and treat your mother with respect.

@Steve Harrington – Your pithy summary was correct, and took the best of the article. You I agree with. Mr Levine less so.

32 Facemot January 13, 2011 at 7:38 am

How to get Gadget at your sidebar? Share, tweet, stumbleupon?

33 Justin January 13, 2011 at 7:57 am

I’ve been receiving the Art of Manliness e-mails for almost a year now and have thoroughly enjoyed them. This was the first one that not only was useless but actually a little offensive. The author neglects to factor in that there is a possibility that a man’s relationship with his mother has naturally matured from that of parent-child to parent-man. His language and approach are purile and arrogant. He seems to think that he has knowledge that the rest of us don’t and he is gracing us with this information. Any educated man could figure this out for themself. Finally, not to be a nag but I am a teacher, if you’re going to be someone who writes as part of their living, please at least use proper grammar. If nothing else, do this so you set a good example for those reading your rants. It is my sincere hope that the webmasters at AoM do not allow this man to post another story.

34 Jason Stambaugh January 13, 2011 at 8:43 am

I agree with Justin to a certain extent, in terms of the content of the message. Most men will implicitly “get” what needs to be done if their relationship with their mother is becoming destructive to their family. My mom and I have a great relationship and for that I am blessed. However, I am sure there are men (I would guess mostly single), who need a swift kick in the pants and help from Wayne Levine. Being a coach of sorts myself, it might be hard to believe, but there are people who not only need coaching, but begin to thrive when they get it.

35 CarlnNJ January 13, 2011 at 9:13 am

Wow. I paid $90 an hour to hear a pale echo of this from my therapist (a woman, no less) and here is a much more succinct, efficacious version for free.

36 Leon A January 13, 2011 at 9:36 am

whao there……reading your article, and the comments that follow made me realize ……just how special my mother really is. Seriously, I could not relate to one single item on your rant! Maybe I’m in so deep, I don’t realize the hold she has on me…or maybe she’s just plain awesome! My mom does not interfer witgh my life, she calls once or twice a week, she’s an awesome cook, my wife loves her, she listens well whenever I have an issue, and only gives advice when asked!
Now my mother-in-law on the other hand……..

37 Scott January 13, 2011 at 9:41 am

Dear Wayne M. Levine, M.A.,

1) Nobody puts “M.A.” at the end of their name.

2) If you did, in fact, get your M.A. in clinical psychology, then you should know that making statements of “fact” such as those in this blog post, without providing citations, is a big no-no. Or did you not provide citations because there would only be one – for the entire post – to Robert Bly’s Iron John?

38 Jeff Jones January 13, 2011 at 9:50 am

Man oh live. I can’t believe how dense people are.

If you have a great healthy relationship with your mother, this article isn’t for you. So quit the bitching. Not everything at AoM or any website for that matter will be customized to your liking. Remember, the world doesn’t revolve around you. (My mom taught me that by the way).

If you have a unhealthy relationship with your mother where she controls you or you let her control your emotionally, then, yeah, you NEED to blow up that relationship and start a new one with her. I’m all for respecting elders and honoring mom because she brought you into this life. But guess what? It’s perfectly possible to honor her for birthing you and wiping your ass and asking that she respects your boundaries as an adult. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Personally, I hope AoM provides more articles like this. They’re helpful to the men who need them and they rattle the cages of the monkey-minded ignoramuses who get offended by the smallest things, thus providing the rest of us with some much needed amusement at work.

39 Steve January 13, 2011 at 10:09 am

Steve Harrington,

I really thought that we could have a mature discussion without resorting to ad hominem attacks on the intelligence of other posters, calling their posts “utterly moronic”. I am sorry that you have never seen such moronic posts before in your life, and by exposing your eyes to such trash, we have disgraced you and “disturbed” you in all your delicacy.

For all your information, I also have an M.A., but I don’t choose to attach it to my every comment. And, ironically, I get paid to design diagnostic tests for reading comprehension.

Your unnecessary (and forgiven) vitriol aside, I would like to respond to your comment.

I do not, and did not, disagree with what I would consider the core truth of the passage, which is that men need, at some point, to redefine their relationship with their mother from a childish one to a manly one, from one of dependence to one of independence. bc did a nice job of summing that up.

However, I believe that this article assumes that one’s mother is an especially difficult case. Unfortunately, judging by the replies here and by conversations I have had with others around me, this situation is not exceptionally rare. For some of us, that progression happens naturally, without crisis, as we grow older. After all, many mothers understand that it is their job with you to work themselves out of a job. For others, it may be necessary to make a more deliberate break. I recognize this and respect it.

Where I take exception to the article is the tone in which it is written. If you had a decent relationship with your mother, and you read this, it may strike you as rather odd. The author would do well to preface his statements.

And, Steve Harrington, I do think that, despite the author’s statement of creating a “whole new relationship” with one’s mother based on “respect”, one need not be paranoid to pick up notes of disrespect and estrangement, with textual evidence.

For a start, mothers are construed as being inherently wanting to control and manipulate their sons, not to see them grow into manhood. This could be true in some cases, but may be overstated as a catch-all claim. It is a tenet which undergirds the entire article. The de facto mother is implicitly described as “dictat[ing] family schedules [and has a] gift of guilt”.

If that is the description of the typical mother — somewhat of a harpy — the proper response for a son IS described, despite the justifying sentence about respect, as one of alienation. If she disagrees with you, you are to “end the conversation”. When she visits, “conditions” must be in place, as if she is on parole. And, most explicitly and revealingly, it is recommended:

My mother will not be left alone with, or allowed to drive, my kids. (Because you do not trust her, or she has lost her capacity to responsibly care for your children or to drive an automobile. You are responsible for making this call, period.)

She is, it says directly, not to be trusted, not able to responsibly care for your children (how did you grow up?), or, bizzarely, able to drive.

So, Steve Harrington, please do publish the cliff notes as to why the “slower readers” lacking reading comprehension skills are picking up notes of treating your mother like a stranger or disrespecting her.

To wrap it up, I agree that a man’s relationship with his mother must be redefined, but I wish the conversation were carried out with nuance and respect. Instead of shutting her out, learn to disagree without either begging for approval or name calling. In fact, this may be a broadly applicable principle.

40 Raymond January 13, 2011 at 10:10 am

This is by far the most disappointing AoM article I’ve seen in over a year of subscription. Too many derisive assumptions and a generally laughable macho-man attitude. This is the kind of thing I would expect to see on the He-Men-Woman-Haters Club website.

41 Virginia January 13, 2011 at 10:17 am

As a Mom of two young men I couldn’t agree more. Excellent article!

42 Zach January 13, 2011 at 10:25 am

Great article. Im only 17 now and i just might start blowing my relationship up lol.

43 Trevor January 13, 2011 at 10:36 am

I hope young people do not read this article and take it to heart. This describes an extreme situation that, in my experiences anyway, is not the norm. I personally do not know anyone with this kind of relationship, and am quite surprised at the number of commenters who seem familiar with this particular situation. I also agree with several prior comments on the author’s tone. I too found it condescending and unappealing.

44 Greg January 13, 2011 at 10:56 am

Will this work with wives, also?

45 mattinmichigan January 13, 2011 at 11:25 am

At 18 things came to a head with my mother when I did something she didn’t approve of. We had a good discussion where I explained I was 18 and I would make my own decisions and deal with the consequences. I was still living at home, so I agreed that I should be considerate of her feelings and respect her house rules, but I was still going to follow my own choices. We have a great adult relationship. I listen to her opinions when she wants to give them and I listen to what she has to say, but I make my own choices and she respects that.

46 Steve Harrington January 13, 2011 at 11:34 am

Sorry Steve-O, I’m just calling it like I see it. And despite your attempt at sounding very reasonable and intelligent (and that alarming confession that your job involves reading comprehension!) you are still utterly failing in your reading of this article.

“However, I believe that this article assumes that one’s mother is an especially difficult case.”

Nope, rather it’s simply written for men who do have difficult mothers. It’s like if there’s an article about being a dad, should childless men rant and rave that the article assume real men have children? Of course not! Some articles aren’t for you!

“For a start, mothers are construed as being inherently wanting to control and manipulate their sons, not to see them grow into manhood.”

Nope, see above.

“She is, it says directly, not to be trusted, not able to responsibly care for your children (how did you grow up?), or, bizzarely, able to drive.”

Here’s where you really run off the rails. It does not say that your mom should not be trusted. It says if you don’t trust her to take care of your kids then you need to make the call that she won’t be taking care of them. Big difference. He says if she has lost her capacity to do so, which I’m reading as dementia or the like. Do you really think it’s bizarre to not let your enfeebled mother drive around your kids? That is bizarre!

Case in point, my mother smokes and smokes inside her house. My doctor said to be careful about second and third hand smoke and to have my mom come over my house if she wanted to see the kids. So I established that rule. My mom was angry and unhappy for awhile but she got used to it. I guess to the wiener men on here that was “disrespectful” because apparently respecting your mother means you can’t set any boundaries at all.

47 Stephen January 13, 2011 at 11:43 am

To everyone here, if you have a situation where something needs “blown up” there’s a problem — something’s obviously broken, defunct, unsafe, whatever.

Especially if that’s metaphorically and it’s your relationship with your parents.

48 Insomniac January 13, 2011 at 11:54 am

There’s no question that mothers can be phenomenally destructive influences in their sons’ lives, especially when coupled with a weak or absent father.

Here’s a question for discussion, and I would very much like to see the author and the commenters weigh in. What if the mother was an abuser – physical, mental and/or emotional – of the boys for the duration of their preadult lives? What if she continues some or all of those behaviors once they’re adults and on their own, and exhibits no insight or remorse?

She did give you life and wiped your ass and cleaned up your messes and she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

That last clause is not true in all cases. I think you’ll find that substituting “and she resented every moment of it and made it clear to you in no uncertain terms” more accurately describes many males’ experience with their mothers.

49 Jeremy January 13, 2011 at 11:57 am

@Eric, and anyone else who thinks you must have “some family issues” if you can’t leave Grandma alone with the kids.

The article specifically mentions the idea that this may be because she has lost the capacity to do so. I love my mother and have a respectful relationship with her. i love to see her spending time with the kids because she is great and has always loved children. She is only in her early 50′s, but she is unable to be left alone with my kids.

About 7 years ago she was diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer. They operated which included opening her whole throat and removing tons of tissue, vocal chords, etc. Since then she has had a couple of other operations to fix her stoma (breathing hole) and some other more minor things. During her first operation one of the ligaments connecting her left shoulder was severed. Because of this she has limited strength and range of motion in that arm as well as constant severe pain. The amount of pain she endures daily has caused many problems for her. She has suffered through depression, sought holistic remedies for the pain, and still has enough trouble that she is on major medication.

There are many other situations which can cause people to not allow a parent alone with there children. My mother-in-law has been an alcoholic for years. She is doing much better lately and is fine, but that doesn’t mean she immediately gets enough trust and privilege to be solely responsible for the well being of my kids. I can think of plenty of other reasons for people to make this choice and for you to criticize that is completely unwarranted an without merit.


50 Arnie January 13, 2011 at 11:58 am

It took me many years to grow out (or blow up) of my boy/mommy relationship to a son/mother relationship, but it still wasn’t perfect. Nothing ever is. What I can say is that I was able to be at my mom’s side during her final week of life and give her the respect and comfort that she needed and deserved. When I think about her now, I don’t have any regrets, only positive and loving feelings and memories. I’ve written about my experience with my mom’s passing in a book called “Goodbye, Mom” –

51 Jeremy January 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm


I think that is a very important factor. When I read your post I immediately thought of the recent movie “The Kid” starring Rupert Friend.
It is a brutal movie, but one of the best I’ve seen in the last few years. The movie clearly depicts an extreme of the sort of relationship you are referring to.

52 Wyatt Earp January 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm

What a great Article! I too had ‘blown up’ my relationship with my mom about 5 years ago and ya know, it was very liberating.

53 Insomniac January 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Jeremy –

Just read the description on IMDB. Sounds like I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

Any further thoughts on the question? I personally know men who have had that experience, to varying degrees of severity. In light of this article, I wonder (among other things) what a man who’s been through that should do in terms of the relationship with his mother.

54 Amjad January 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm

One of the best things I’ve done for myself.

55 Steve January 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Steve H,

Let’s bury the hatchet. I honestly want to discuss the content of this article without insulting each other. I appreciate your insight and clarification; it helped me to see some things that I did not think of. Clearly I don’t fully understand the situations of many other people commenting.

56 Jeremy January 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I don’t have much insight into how exactly someone whould act in that sort of situation. It is something that I am definitely curious to hear what others have to say. I tend to think that while in some cases you may be able to sit and have an adult discussion about the issue(s) in order to move toward a healthier relationship, there are probably a vast number of situations in which this is just not possible. In cases where the abuser can not or will not admit to it having been a problem I believe you have a couple of choices.

The first thing to assess would be whether the abuse is still being perpetrated. If it is not then I think it is a time to start examining your heart and seeking the will and strength to forgive and press forward. If the abuse is still a problem then I think it is important to stand against it. I am sure that this would be a very hard thing to do after years of enduring it. I don’t want to minimize the lasting effects of any form of abuse. Somehow there has to be strength to say enough is enough. Allowing it to continue as an adult will be detrimental to not just the person being abused, but the rest of the family.

There is an obvious impact on how you interact with your wife and children, but I think what some people don’t realize is the impact on the way they will interact with you. I firmly believe that despite all of the woman’s lib and empowerment, a wife wants her husband to be strong. We may not hunt for food or battle over mates in our society, but your wife must feel like you can stand up for her and your children. If you can’t stand up for yourself and show that you have to power to do what must be done then it will affect your wife’s security and it will affect the way your children grow to handle themselves and interact with the world. If you believe in the bible I consider this to be the real world example of “generational sin”. The negative actions of one generation must not be allowed to continue through to the next in perpetuity.

Another would be to fight against the bad habits that may have become part of your character due to abuse. If your parents were too physical, or drank and got angry, or insulted your intelligence as a child you may find yourself leaning on those sorts of actions in raising your own children. A man must have the self awareness to recognize these abominable actions in order that he might put all of his will into changing them and removing them from his character.

I know that despite the loving upbringing from my parents I have some character flaws that I must deal with in order to help my children grow to be the strong and confident adults I long for them to be. One big example for me is an indecisiveness and lack of strong assertive stances on things. My father was extremely loving and did everything anyone could ask for in regards to spending time with me and being involved in my childhood, but my mother ran everything. I can’t remember a single time in my life when I heard my father say “No, I disagree and we are going to do this my way because I said so.” Some people may think that is a good thing, but I really feel that a man is to be held responsible for the outcome of everything his family does and is required to have strong feelings and convictions to guide them.

As mentioned I have no personal experience with an abusive childhood. I am also in no way a psychologist or anything else to make me an expert. I have strong feelings on who and what a man must be in order to care for his family. Hopefully this post can help someone out a bit.


P.S – If anyone wants to start a rediculous flame war because I mentioned the bible and “generational sin”, don’t bother. I will not reply to any comments which seek to argue the validity of anyone elses faith, beliefs, or lack thereof.

57 Phil January 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Any man needs to confront that situation in your life…going into the uncomfortable zone is what will bring healing and a new beginning…there are many ways of getting ones point across without disrespecting your mom…YOU need to be clear and honest with her…and the catharsis will come by itself…there you have it!

58 Steve Harrington January 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Steve, you are ten times the gentleman I am. Your polite response puts me to shame. I could have made my point without being an ass. I have a problem losing my temper in discussions and it’s definitely something I need to work on.

59 Insomniac January 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Jeremy -

Thanks for your thoughts. I think there are some good ones, especially about not visiting the same harm upon one’s own children. It’s critically important. That can be harder than some people think, though, when the model of parenting was negative and there was no positive role model to emulate. If you received rage when you should have received compassion, or contempt and disgust when you should have received encouragement, those tendencies can easily reappear in your own childrearing. Even if you can suppress these tendencies, the problem then becomes what positive things to use in their place, and how and when you should use them. I also think it’s not unusual that parents who grew up in these kinds of situations to be afraid – and not irrationally so, in my view – that they’ll do the same things to their children. In some cases, that fear can be so intense that they either withdraw or limit their engagement with their children.

I’ll adopt Jeremy’s disclaimer – I’m not a psychologist, therapist or anything else like that and not providing any kind of professional opinion or advice. I’ve just seen the damage and hope I say something helpful in here somewhere.

60 George January 13, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I think that a better title for this article would be Redefining Your Relationship with Your Mother. I went through a similar process when I was 19. I moved out of my parents house and across the country to pursue a specialized career. It forced me to become independent in about every way including financially. I think that the sudden jolt of one day living with my parents and the next day living 2500 miles away was a real shock to my mom’s system. About a year latter she accepted my independence. Our relationship changed. She no longer looked at me as her baby boy who depended on her but as a man that she raised, who still loved her but was independent. Not only did our relationship improve, but my relationship with my father also improved.

61 Eric January 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm

You wrote: “I can think of plenty of other reasons for people to make this choice and for you to criticize that is completely unwarranted an without merit.”

I’m not criticizing the choice, or even judging it, I’m just pointing out that if you have to worry about leaving your kids alone w/ grandma, there are some out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, and probably some extreme ones (an alcoholic in-law is exactly the kind of thing I meant by ‘family issues’).

62 Steve January 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm

No, Steve H, it was big of you to say what you just did. Thanks a lot. I was pretty pointed myself.

I’d buy you a beer to show it’s all good, but this is the internet.

63 Insomniac January 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm

62 Steve January 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm
No, Steve H, it was big of you to say what you just did. Thanks a lot. I was pretty pointed myself.

Group hug, everybody, c’mon, group hug!

64 Abe January 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Whoa! Did I just walk into a group hug?

65 DKR January 13, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Wish I could have a relationship with my mother – with all of the good and bad, give and take… She died 16 years ago.

66 Kurt G Gustafsson January 13, 2011 at 10:05 pm

It’s close on 40 years ago now, one of the most important moments of my life.

In Sweden we used to have compulsory military service, so after Senior High (in US terms) I spent a year in the army. But then I went back home to Mom and Dad for two years in college in my home town, Stockholm.

Having done service up north, I was tired of the cold and the darkness close to the Arctic Circle, and started job hunting down in southern Sweden. After a few phone calls, I landed a job in Malmo, just across the straits from Copenhagen, Denmark, 360 mi south of Stockholm now, so let’s conservatively say 400 mi in the late 60s and on worse roads: a long day’s drive.

I loaded my little car up with all my gear. And my Mama cried.

A year later, I met my SO. After six weeks, I moved in with her. Ten months later we married, and nine months after that (!) we had our first son.

As you can see, I was on a fast track and Mom had problems keeping up. I was 23 when we married, and whaddaya know, wifey was four years older. Mom, never one to accept her own age, never mind that of her only child, seemed to think I’d been grabbed from the cradle. We were doing fine, I had a good job and could provide for the family on my salary alone, which was a feat even then. But a couple of times every month Mom sent a letter with all the ads she had found with jobs in Stockholm.

That didn’t lure me back, but every few months we went up to Stockholm to visit. And every time Mom found things to criticize about wifey. And after our son was born, she especially liked to criticize the way she was taking care of the baby. Not that Mom knew much about the matter. She had raised one kid, and I for one know that she hadn’t done a very good job with that. I’m essentially a self made man from toddler on up.

It wasn’t out in the open. It was the kind of snide remarks that you hear in films about the upper classes. Not that we were upper class, but we had the jargon. I was brought up with it, used to it, and didn’t pay much heed. I did notice, however, that it wore on wifey, but of course I didn’t want to start a quarrel during one of those rare visits.

In the end, wifey had to speak up. To me. Before a scheduled visit, she said she just couldn’t bear visiting my parents again. I listened to her, closely, and made her a promise: Come this time, and I’ll deal with it. If I don’t, you’ll never have to see them again.

I waited until Mom had made her first snide remark. Then I waited some more, until she’d gone to the kitchen. I joined her there, closed the door and told her, very calmly, and in a low voice: If you don’t stop picking on wifey, that’ll be it. A clean break: we don’t see each other, we don’t talk on the phone, we don’t even write. You’ll be history. That’s the way it is.

Of course she started arguing, but I cut her off, still without raising my voice: In any conflict, no matter what, you’d side with dad. That’s just the same way I’ll stand by my wife against anyone, including you. So all I want to know is did you hear and understand what I said?

Or words to that effect. It’s almost 40 years ago, don’t expect my memory to be word perfect. What I do remember perfectly is the strong effect of a calm voice and low key. I doubt that shouting would have had any result at all. Anyway, she nodded and I joined the others in the living room, giving my wife the slightest of nods to let her know that the matter was settled once and for all.

In retrospect, I think that’s when wifey accepted me as her Man, not just her husband and lover and the father of our son. And she may have been right.

Mom stayed in the kitchen a good half hour, probably crying her eyes out, but from then on she was good. Oh, in the beginning she sometimes lapsed into her old behavior, but it only took a sharp look to remind her. So for her remaining years, we all had a good relationship, and as the years went by, she got to play with three grandchildren, who all mourned her, when she passed away.

Wifey and I are still happy together, and will celebrate our 39th anniversary come June. I sincerely doubt that would have happened, if I hadn’t had that quiet talk with Mom in her kitchen that night.

67 EagleHawk January 13, 2011 at 11:45 pm

This is a very important part of our makeup as a man. Thing is we as men need to do the same regarding our fathers, because this is where we get our REAL identity as a man.

68 RJ January 14, 2011 at 11:05 am

I see a great deal to look into from this article. I am not a Momma’s boy.. but I had a hard time being raised by mostly my Aunts , Uncles and Grand mother who criticized every thing I did. To this day I find myself Defending my actions in my head even though they are not there to speak up at all. They are alive.. but I think i dread having to spend time with them in the future.. knowing of the Impending Tests and games they play to see if I have changed in a way they can approve of. These in the past always failed.. never good enough. I am going to take some of these Ideas with me and consider the fact that I have done pretty well with out their oversight. I still want their Approval.. not sure why.. would love them to be able to see , I am not going to let them Test Me to Death again.. draw a line and stay if you persist I will not be around to LET you. Much to think on . As to me and my mother.. I have often told her.. This is what I am going to do.. you may disagree.. but I am going to do it In my best understanding of what to do.. either way. That works. I still think that women need a man to Stand on something.. even if they complain either way.. and will follow you to hell and back , even if you are wrong.. IF you stand on it unwaveringly.
thoughts ?

69 GJ Marks January 14, 2011 at 11:59 am

This article is very specific to those of use who have unhealthy relationships with our mothers – a subject I have never heard any good advice on. I wouldn’t expect someone from a good healthy home to understand – obviously this article isn’t for everyone.
For the rest of us who strive to be better adults and have to work harder at it because of our less-than-ideal parental relationships, thank you for posting this. These things aren’t easy to talk about and speaking for myself, this exact topic is one I have avoided like the plague.

70 Joe January 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm

To Steve Harrington

You should read How to Win Friends and Influence People. It might help you gain a little tact. You could use it. You could be 100% right in your argument but you accomplish nothing if you approach it like that. If you don’t feel the article came across as rude and arrogant then agree to disagree with the large chunk of us who clearly do not agree with you or the author. I’m not going to argue with you because clearly you’ve made up your mind and once a boy makes up his mind, it doesn’t matter how well you prove him wrong. He’s not going to change it. I just want to leave you with this piece of advice. Every condescending and arrogant argument you make to prove someone else wrong, there’s someone else even smarter then you who can rip you a new one as well.

71 NE January 14, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Dear sirs,
If you do not think this article applies to you, please go ask your wife. Don’t have a wife? Re-read the article.

72 Steve Harrington January 14, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Man, Joe had to come in and ruin our nice group hug! Oh well.

I’m certainly trying to work on my tact, so I will fight the temptation to rip into you, and be as polite as possible. Here goes: 1) The chunk that didn’t like this article is not very large. 2) Whenever someone says that it’s not worth arguing with someone for such and such a reason, it usually means he simply does not have a good argument to make. 3) Finally, your assertion that there is always someone out there who is smarter does not logically make sense. There cannot always be someone smarter-there must be someone who is so smart that there is no counterargument to make-the smartest guy. I’m not saying that I’m that guy, I’m just pointing out the lack of logic there.

73 Darren January 15, 2011 at 3:46 am

Good article! Bravo!

I have a great relationship with my mom, but I have seen this play out in my friend’s life. His mother could not let him go. Called him every day in college, was critical of all his girlfriends. When he got the flu once, she drove an hour to see him and rented a hotel room for him and her to stay in so she could take care of him. He was 25 and she was still “popping” over to see him and check on him. He finally had to say…enough! He told her to only call him once a week and not to drive up to see him unless she called first and he said it was alright. Sure she was very angry with him at first, and I think she still is, but it’s a step he had to take to be a man and grow up.

74 Jake January 15, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Ugh. I hate it when articles try and “talk tough” to the reader. It’s condescending and rude. Any message that was in here is negated by insulting the reader right off the bat.

I don’t know, maybe it works for some people. “Are you MAN ENOUGH to buy this excersize equipment, faggot?” I would bet that most people wouldn’t open up to a message like that, though.

75 CoffeeZombie January 16, 2011 at 4:17 pm

At this point in the discussion, I’m probably just wasting my time, but I thought I’d throw my $2 (inflation, you know) in.

When I read the post, I had mixed feelings. I liked it, but, then, I didn’t like it. After reading some of the comments, and discussing the post with my wife, I think I’ve gotten things straightened out in my head.

I think that the overall message of the post (at least, as I’m understanding it), is positive. That is, when a boy becomes a man, his relationship with his parents must change. Scripturally speaking, “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24, RSV). Rarely does it seem we really need encouragement to leave our fathers; it’s usually the dad who is saying, “Okay, it’s time for you to get out on your own.” Mothers tend to be the ones who want to cling to their “little darlings.” As such, if your mother insists on clinging, then you may have to take a more intentional approach to cutting the apron-strings. Some mothers are more difficult than others, and the especially difficult cases may require extreme measures. So, on that point, the article is well-needed, since many men often can’t or won’t bring themselves to cut those apron-strings, and nobody is going to respect a mama’s boy.

On the other hand, I think that what many people are reacting negatively to in the article is the tone. There’s a tone of machismo in this article that is generally not present in most AoM articles. Sure, we say things like “Man up,” and talk about “man this” and “manly that,” but somehow this article strikes me as different. It reminds me of the “men’s” stuff at my old church (“Men’s Conference,” etc.) that, honestly, just seemed a bit “hokey” to me. My wife said the feeling she gets from this kind of machismo is that the man has something to prove. It feels fake, like you’re trying to pump yourself (or someone else) up, like those hated pep rallies at school. Sorry if I’m being a bit harsh, but, given the number of “dislike” comments here, I thought maybe some attempt at putting a finger on *why* the article rubbed us the wrong way might be helpful.

Also, the article rather explicitly assumes that every man needs to “blow up” his relationship with his mother. In the 4 paragraph introduction to the article, the author gives us two kinds of males: those *boys* who desperately need to “blow up” their maternal relationships, and those *men* who have already done so.

Well, no, that is definitely not true. Many men simply grew, naturally, into mature, adult relationships with their parents. Perhaps they never noticed it happening. Perhaps there did come a time when they had to assert themselves as adults, but they did so in a respectful and loving way, and the moment was a slight course change in the relationships. I would expect that only a small percentage of men have to do anything that could be described as “blowing up” the relationship.

76 Brad January 16, 2011 at 8:25 pm

I agree, this article had a tone of machismo that I really disliked.

This is the only article I’ve seen on this site concerning mothers (one of the most important relationships we will ever have, for better or worse) and I think it was poorly done.

What about an article celebrating the good mothers in our lives? The women who raised us and helped us become the good men we are today (hopefully). Or at least I would like to see a more fair portrayal of this relationship. Maybe without the words “blowing up” or any other explosives present.

77 Clint Connolly January 16, 2011 at 8:50 pm

There’s machismo on this article but if we lose the good points because we’re too afraid to see ourselves as men, then we may as well give up on the lessons to be taught in the article.

I personally didn’t have this sort of relationship with my mom, and my trouble was trying to blow up my relationship with my dad – but the lessons are very true for both parents, the critical mother or absent or critical father.

78 greatzamboni January 17, 2011 at 2:06 am

Wayne- Excellent wisdom and teaching and your tone, the tone is wonderful, like a true friend yelling at you, but not in anger, in love, and well, in a manly way. “In your power” great zamboni could not have said this better…-GZ

79 KierO January 17, 2011 at 11:39 am


Reading this was like going back in time to a few years ago.

I grew up in a single parent family after my Dad left when I was 4. My mother was a very independent, strong women and most definitely a disciplinarian. What my mother said GOES. Full stop.

And that’s the way it was until I left home at the age of 18 to go to University. Outside of my mother’s realm of control I struggled to be an independent person. I had become so reliant and COMPLIANT that I could not operate by myself.

I found my future wife and we have been together now for over 6 years, due to be Married this October. For the first few years of our relationship things between me, my Fiancé and my Mum were fine. However after a short stay in hospital my Mum came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. Her attitude towards my Fiancé was appalling and a massive argument almost split us up. I then did something to “cool things down” that I will regret to the end of my days….I asked my Fiancé to leave and my mum to stay.

Thankfully my Fiancé and I managed to overcome this…..but every phone conversation with my mother instantly got my stress levels up. It was a nightmare even speaking to her. My mother kept on coming out with “She’s not good enough for you”, or “She’s only with you for your money” (I don’t have any) or my favourite “I have to MAKE you realise that what your doing is wrong”.

It was only something that someone had mentioned in passing that triggered me to do something about…the phrase “cutting the apron strings”.

I then did something that changed the relationship between me and my mother forever, as well as changing me for the better. I STOOD UP TO HER.

I had a long conversation where I made it clear that:

• She no longer runs my life I do.
• She is allowed only to give me advice ONCE; if I decide to ignore it then it’s my choice.
• She never speaks to me or my Fiancé with the level of disrespect that she had done.
• And I made it clear that I love her, but that I would not think twice about never speaking to her again in order to save my relationship and my health. After all “True Love” is unconditional, if she can’t love me without trying to change or influence me then I will cut contact.

It worked. Really.

Was it easy? Hell no, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. She tried everything to regain “control” over me, from threatening to tell the rest of the family how I treated her, to insinuating that she may take her own life…”if you don’t listen to me then there’s nothing left for me now”.

But I held firm, and maintained a calm controlled voice and reiterated the rules to her.

Over a few weeks to a month or so our relationship began to change and although she is still a very emotional and dictatorial woman, she no longer tries to do these things with me. After all what do “strong” people respect above all else…strength.

To anyone that finds themselves in this situation I urge you to research, gain confidence, set down the rules and stand your ground.


80 joshg January 17, 2011 at 11:56 am

I don’t get it. I have a perfectly fine relationship with my mother (and my mother-in-law). I really enjoy most of the articles here, but this one I have an issue with. I think Jake and Brad put it correctly. The author is assuming that anyone who DOESN’T do this is a Mama’s Boy pantywaist who isn’t fit to be a husband or father.

Well, I’ve got news for you…I don’t need to “Blow up” my relationship with my mother. I’m on the path to becoming a better husband, father, son, brother, friend, man…and while I agree with many of the articles written here, this isn’t one of them.

81 Chris January 17, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Boy this has struck a nerve.

My mother had a fling with a hood she scraped up off the street and got pregnant with me. A hurry up wedding was arranged and all of a sudden she was married to a man that she hated and it was my fault.

This was the tone of our entire relationship. Always angry, not at herself but at everyone else, and especially me.

When it was time for my own family to begin, the little snide remarks were issued, she’s not very pretty, she’s kind of fat, etc, etc. All in an effort to convince me that she wasn’t good enough.

Funny part is the woman who became my wife (and we will celebrate 30 years of marriage together) taught me what love really is.

Unfortunately the upbringing I received embedded itself rather deeply into me and after a couple of years of marriage I began behaving toward my wife as my mother had to me. Luckily in a fit of anger I blurted out that we needed to see a counselor and my wife found one and we did.

It was a real eye-opening experience some 10+ years ago. All the issues which I was transferring to others (as my mother did) I recognized were my own responsibility. The couple of months we spent talking to Sarah were truly a watershed event.

Not long after while visiting my Mother, she started off on one of her tirades, this time about one of my children. Right there and then I decided enough. I had a brief chat with her about it and of course she acted like she had no idea what I was talking about, but I decided that henceforth she was not going to treat any of my family in that manner.

And she hasn’t. It was damn difficult and I still think about it often. In 2007 we migrated from the New Orleans area to Northern Va. Before we left, I made it a point to visit both of my now divorced parents in an effort to at least try and wipe the slate clean.

But alas it was not to be. As I was leaving my mother’s house she told me to “have a nice life”. It was basically the last words we have spoken.

Thanks for this article.


82 Jack January 18, 2011 at 11:31 am

To anyone who relates to this article:

Was anyone else reminded of 30 Rock’s hilarious “Say no, talk low, let her go” strategy?

83 Tony January 19, 2011 at 3:11 am

Real men take care of their mothers and all the women in their lives. If a male has to blow up his relationship with his Mom to get freedom, he is not a man. To answer your starting question, the title was at the same time silly and sad. Sad because we have an entire generation of young males that severely shortchanged by the trends of this society. Raised by women with no male role models worth a damn, these young men think life is like the Oprah show. I should not go further, I could write a book about this as I interviewed hundreds of young men in my previous business for jobs and it was pathetic. I tended to hire men from either the Southern US or Canada because I didn’t have to teach them simple basic manners and courtesy.

Suffice to say that you young men can still love Mom and be free at the same time. Maybe put your foot down or something of the sort.
Be well and peace,

84 TBV January 19, 2011 at 11:19 am

Does anyone else question the author’s need to list “M.A.” after his name? Masters of Arts? Are we really doing that now?

85 Sean January 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm


I enjoyed reading this. Ive always thought a strong relationship with one’s mother would go a long way towards having a stabilizing impact on the rest of a guy’s life. I think a transition has to occur for both Mom and son, but when it happens properly, it can be a great thing.

86 Nathan January 26, 2011 at 3:43 am

Well, My mom just passed away 3 months ago. Yay! Now I get to be a man finally, right?
In the past I got called mama’s boy by many different people. My relationship with my dad wasn’t the best.
I’m 22, I had a good relationship with mom, I loved her very much, she taught me alot.
But she’s gone now, time for me to grow up.

87 Eivind F S January 28, 2011 at 4:48 am

Interesting discussion. One thing that has made a difference for me is to stop calling my mother “mum” or “mother” and start calling her by her actual name. It suggests a relationship on equal terms.

Your story impressed me, Kurt.


88 Michael January 31, 2011 at 3:17 am

This article has made me realize how healthy my relationship with my mother already is… And it’s been (to varying degrees) like this since I was 20 or so. We never need to argue, nor do I need to fight for the freedom to exercise my ability to make decisions regarding my own life. I live 1500 miles away (soon to be 2800) and talk to them maybe once per week. But even five years ago when I was closer, it was still very good.

89 anonymous February 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I think if you are in a good relationship with your mother (and as someone else pointed out, if your significant other agrees!), then consider yourself lucky. Why get so upset or offended if you’re confident that you’re a man and you have a good relationship with mom?

I find myself in a similar situation as KierO (thank you for your insight, it hit close to home). It’s easy for me to relate and I think the situation the article describes is more common than some of you know. For me, this article does a very good job of summarizing how the relationship should be for me with my mom (respectful but not subservient). I didn’t have a male role model growing up, my mom was the tough, independent type. No one ever told me that it’s actually wrong for me to feel guilt (I still view it as duty) for not doing 100% of what she asks, or not change my opinion or schedule to fit hers. Until I met my wife, I was always dating woman that were “weaker” than me, or dominating woman like my mom that told me what to do. I only knew both types of relationships, mom hated all the women I brought home, and (although I am accomplished in other parts of my life), I lacked confidence in all my relationships. It was an endless cycle and my mom, as much as I love and respect her, did not help things.

For me, my relationship with my mother had much more of an effect on my relationships with other people, especially women, than I realized. It has taken me a decade to even recognize this was at least one major part of the issue. My takeaway from the article is that, even though I view my mom a hero, I cannot be a man and proper husband and father unless I am comfortable disagreeing with her and enforcing rules with her that are key to my happiness.

I respect that some of you have great relationships with your mothers. Most men that I know don’t talk about any of this stuff; yet somehow boys are supposed to learn how to be a man. With divorce rates as high as they are now (and even some fathers not being able to teach as well as they want to), how does this happen if we don’t have someone to emulate, or we don’t have an intelligent discussion about it?

90 jhon jabat February 2, 2011 at 12:59 am

goooooooooooooooooooooood info

i like it

91 Sledge February 2, 2011 at 9:35 am

Excellent article. I went through this about twelve years ago, not long after I married and my wife and I had our first child. It was difficult but absolutely necessary. My mother still tries to follow the old patterns and push the old buttons, so it is a constant exercise on my part to continue to follow the NUTs.

One author I read described the same sort of thing using the old apron-strings analogy. To paraphrase, if the mother does not cut the apron strings, the son must. It will be more messy and painful if he has to do it, but it must be done nonetheless.

Thanks for writing this.

92 Anonymous Woman February 2, 2011 at 10:28 am

I hope it’s alright if I post here since I’m a female, I just wanted to share the other side of the coin, that some women have to go through the same thing with their mothers. I love reading this site BTW and thought this article was right on. It’s so great to see something like this out there for Men. :)

(If I’m not supp

My mother totally dominated my father and the family, and she was both the mother and father in the relationship, he was one of the children. He was not present and barely paid attention to us, and when needed most he never came through – he had a huge wall around him, and if you knew his mother it was understandable.. My mom had to ride his ass to get him to do anything “fatherly” with us kids at all. I in turn learned that Men are not to be trusted to be relationship equals or dependable, and will leave you all the burdens, so you must control them if you get involved with them at all, because they are weak. Control, in the end, is all about fear.

It’s taken me a lot of years to rid myself of this programming – and I had a split with my mother very similar to this article that finally caused the breakthrough. I realized that if I didn’t own my own power as a woman and have confidence in myself that I would end up being the way that she was. My mother had a belief deep down that a man who was her “equal” would never want her or be faithful to her because deep down she was bad or worthless, so she settled for a guy who was still a boy who hadn’t cut the strings psychologically with his own mother that she could control. It’s really sad when I think about it, she was miserable. He didn’t really seem to notice anything either way and was content as long as she was there. They are divorced now and he is repeating the same pattern with his current GF.

It’s funny, because when I was 18, I moved 1200 miles to get away from her – but all that time I was still psychologically under her control. Sometimes it just takes time, I guess!

I’m 33 and I’m finally coming to terms with my own identity as a woman (being okay with being vulnerable and receptive, etc.) instead of running around trying to be both the man and woman, and that will allow me to let Men be men and trust them to carry through with their end of the deal because now I’m strong enough to carry through with mine :)

I guess I just wanted you guys to know that there are women like me who are out there working on this stuff too, and being womanly woman and we appreciate you. :)

93 David Russell Mosley February 5, 2011 at 10:49 am


I understand your advice, but at the same time, I don’t have a bad relationship with my parents. I never felt the need to emancipate myself from them as you apparently did. Also, they aren’t using money to control my life. They have little influence over my decisions, if they did, I wouldn’t be getting ready to go to school in the UK for my PhD in the Fall. My question was more how blow up my relationship without ruining it.

As for your advice. I’ve already graduated college and about to do so with grad school. My parents helping me get my PhD so I can stay out of debt, which I value highly. I’m also already married, so I don’t have to worry about her being turned off by relationship with my mother and breaking up with me. Also, I already work 3 jobs and will be spending my whole summer moving until my wife and I go to the UK in September. I just want to make sure I have the right relationship with my mother without ruining it. Thanks for your scathing advice, but I think I’ll just keep doing it my way for now.

94 Anonymous February 8, 2011 at 1:08 am

I’m an unmarried woman, and I enjoyed this article. I don’t think every guy has this problem, but there seem to be many who do. It has been only on rare occasion that I have ever met a guy who knows how to talk to women in a powerful, manly way, and yet be a true gentleman. I think that kids really do learn this from watching their fathers interact with their mothers. In my parents’ home, my dad calls the shots until my mom decides she disagrees. Then my mom calls the shots. I am an extremely strong-willed person, so I am in danger of doing the same thing to a man. I try to fight this inclination all the time because I want to respect men and let them be who they are meant to be. If a guy successfully grows up into being his own person, then he will be prepared to interact in a mature way with the woman he marries. You guys can’t let your moms walk all over you, or your wife will be able to do the same thing. Believe me, strong-minded women find it very attractive when a man stands up to them. Even if they don’t show it and they fight with you at first, if they aren’t total control-freaks, they will eventually respect you for it. So if you need to “put your foot down,” as Tony said, with your mom, then do it. Don’t back down, and realize that you have to be ready to behave in a similar way with your wife (or your “woman”) as well. Real women love real men.

95 Lucas da Silva Maria October 7, 2012 at 5:57 pm

@DavidMosley Well David, the answer is YOU CAN’T. You will not be a fully grown man if you depend on your parents. If you eat their food, sleep in their house, are carried by their car and have your studies paid by them, you are not in the position of blowing up your relationship with them. Nonetheless, there are some things you can start doing.
The first of them is getting a job, a real JOB. Not a dead end Joe job, not a part time job. Get a job and make money!
Then you can go live on your own. Wash your own socks. Cook your own meals. Clean your own piss drops from the bathroom floor.
AND DO IT NOW, before your backbone dissolves completely. I know you have to go to England blablabla. But you have to think about the kind of man you want to be. A compliant man who has his ways dictated by security? Is that what your future wife wants? Jesus, and God forbid you are already married! Because, if you are, you REALLY have to step up and cut that cord.
Money is not the problem you know? There is more money out there. The money you have is not the only money there is in the world. And the process by which you accomplish to make it your is called WORKING.

96 Carolina October 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I just broke up with my boyfriend of almost three years (evventhough he had a down payment on a ring and I love him so much) because he refused to spend the night with me bc he said he had to stay home and take care of his mom and grandmother. He would spend the night here and there but never consistently. I wish he wouldve read this article. Or I wish someone could advise him. He is never going to be happy bc he will forever be guilted into staying home and taking care of them. It’s a terrible and sad situation. I keep wishing that he will man up. But, I just don’t see that happening. I would’ve stayed by him if he had shown any sort of progress into stepping up to his mom and manning up. But he told me i love you can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you but my mom is #1. So sad. Guys please set boundaries with your mothers/fathers bc they were able to have their own lives its only natural and fair that you should have your own lives as well.

97 Fran December 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I ve always worked at having a good relationship with my mother . Once when I was in my 20 s we holidayed together and she was having a great time . It was in Aiya Napa in Cyprus , the was then full of Sewdish girls and I felt my Mom was cramping my style , one morning I told her so and she was very upset. I had moments to think this over and I hugged her told it was ok. I resolved never to cross this boundary again, I realised just then how important she was to me, how she loved being with her children , how her life was so much driven by Motherhood. For now she is still with me lives a long way away but I do my best to phone her every day. I think we get too arrogant sometimes and forget not just the effort some of our Mums put into our lives but also how much they love us and that not everyone has a good relationship with their mothers . So I would say never forget your Mum, and yeah blow that relationship up there’s so much to get out of it . Of course if there are problems then you can only try and if there’s no Mum you might have someone who s more than an adequate substitute. Whichever it gladdens the heart , the art of manliness are not wrong .

98 Fran December 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm

My last post uploaded by mistake before I completed it . So I’m adding a next comment so it makes sense. I don’t like the comment blow up your relationship , blow up has a kind of finality to it. As I explained before I think my Mums are special it’s not about blowing up the relationship but developing it and standing on your own two feet. I’m all for independence, I grew up ironing my own clothes , even cooking for myself . There are too many forgotten parents in homes , too many Mum waiting on phones for their grown up children to ring. Manliness are usually never wrong but I just don’t like blow up as a phrase , develop , make more mature, stand on your own feet . Keep your parents part of your life and have a more adult relationship .

99 Shannon January 14, 2013 at 11:14 am

Wow I have been looking for days for something to help. I asked my grandmother to move in with me ( for safety reasons) she then began taking over my house, my children, my life. I have again become one of her children. Boys I am a women and loved this article and my mother and grandmother are so overbearing and I’m tired of my children being ruined due to teaching of disrespect this behavior brings on. Not all mother’s fit the bill I sure will do my best to prevent this with my children. Thank you and good day.

100 TimG January 23, 2013 at 9:11 am

This is an awesome article. I have been going through this process for several years now and it has come to a head recently. I could write pages and pages of passive-aggressive things my parents (particularly my mother) do to derail my nearly 18 years of marriage. I will just skip to the most recent event though.

This past Christmas, my eyes were opened. First, my wife requested we meet somewhere neutral (like a restaurant) to exchange gifts. She hosted all my family for Thanksgiving and didn’t want to go through the effort of hosting them for Christmas too. We won’t go to their house because they have 5 indoor cats (it was 8 cats) and my son and I are highly allergic and it is a chaotic and negative environment to be in anyway.

So, my mother did not approve of the idea to meet somewhere and when my wife wasn’t around, she told me it is too awkward to open gifts in a restaurant and invited themselves over to my house to exchange gifts. It was so icky the way my mother went behind my wife’s back to tell me this.

The next time I talked to mom, I told her we were not having Christmas at my house and that we will have to meet. She through a little temper-tantrum but I stood firm.

I arranged for us to meet the next day in a private party room at a local restaurant. We ate and exchanged gifts but they did not get my wife anything. We were given a gift to both of us, and I got a nice gift from my parents. They have ALWAYS given us each separate gifts and have NEVER made such a blatant exclusion of my wife.

When we got home, I called my parents and spoke to my dad about how it hurt me that they excluded my wife. He denied they were excluding her and blamed my wife for being “too sensitive” and they have to walk on eggshells around her, and they didn’t feel welcome by us. Again, I stood firm and he apologized in an insincere way.

It has been over 2 weeks and I haven’t tried to contact them. I have had it with them treating my wife this way but I don’t know what to do now.
I think I should clearly lay out the expectations that they are to treat her as part of the family and if they don’t, they will not be seeing us or our kids very often. I know they will play the “blame-game” and deny they act this way but that is crap and I will call them on it.

What advice do you have to offer me?

Thanks in advance for your help and support.


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