There is no doubt that mothers and sons share a special bond. But if you are looking for hard science to qualify the special relationship between a mother and her son, you won’t find much. The closest I could find was a small study published in 2015 in which all mothers reported a high incidence of “disgust sensitivity” in the first trimester of pregnancy.1 But only mothers bearing sons continued to report high levels of disgust sensitivity during the second trimester. The rationale was that male fetuses are ecologically more vulnerable. So the aversions resulting from the mothers’ ongoing disgust reflex (or aversion to pathogens) is a protective behavior. At least, that explains why moms are so innately watchful of their dear boys.
The Ancient Roots of the Mother and Son Bond
The mother-son bond goes beyond protective instincts in the womb. This unique relationship may result from the harmonious balance between opposite energies. Ancient cultures believed in the coexistence of the divine, or sacred, masculine and feminine forces. Psychiatrist Carl Jung noted these contradictory forces that are interconnected within each individual.2 I believe these energetic opposites which coexist in each of us can be balanced and magnified in beneficial ways as a mother raises her son.
We still live in a gendered world. Despite the development of new norms and the dismantling of gender bias and inequality, children face the widespread cultural expectations of their particular gender. Boys are still expected to toughen up, be strong, and not show their emotions. Girls are still expected to care for others, be kind, and express their emotions with control. Mothers today have a tremendous opportunity to embrace their own masculine energy and enhance their sons’ feminine energy, which will result in more whole and well-rounded humans all around. Let’s look at what becomes possible from the synergetic relationship between mothers and sons.
The Benefits of the Mother-Son Bond
If you spend more than five minutes around a young boy, you’ll most likely hear a loud roar or see something get thrown or kicked. This comes from the fiery masculine energy of “doing” and does not need to be suppressed or minimized. It can be balanced with the fluid, feminine energy of “being.” Mothers and sons can engage in pretend play, artistic or musical creations, dance, and role-play to complement the rough and tumble, fight and chase, build and destroy types of play typically attributed to boys. When mothers engage with their sons this way, they allow all styles of play to unfold, giving their sons the chance to be completely free in how they play.
We see so many examples of strong masculine communication styles: confident, assertive, and logical. These are beneficial traits to develop in any child. But if they are the only traits we focus on, the child may grow up to be controlling, dominating, and confrontational. A mother’s inherently gentle and tender communication style can teach her son that slowing down, listening, and asking questions are also powerful ways to communicate. Combining compassion with confidence teaches a boy that his voice is important. It is never the only voice in the room.
Childhood is all about connection. Often that means physical affection. Boys need snuggles and hugs just as much as tickles and tackles. I’m not sure any mom would willingly stop kissing her boy’s forehead each night! It’s possible our boys don’t really want us to. Moms get to continue offering love and affection, and their sons get to continue receiving it.
Part of what makes mothers so capable of caring for their children is their intuition, understanding, and emotional sensitivity. These traits help a mother tune in to her infant’s needs. And these are the traits that help a woman attract a man in the first place. The more empathetic and emotionally attuned we are, the more we feel seen, heard and understood. Empathy is a superpower, and it should not belong to women alone.
Mothers offer empathy to their sons, validating all their emotions and normalizing their internal experiences. When boys receive this level of understanding, they no longer need to push away, numb, or hide their big feelings. These boys grow into empathetic men who can see the emotional impact and logical reasoning in any situation. Boys will continue to trust their moms, seek their advice, and find consolation in their words because mothers are empathy experts. Mothers give the unconditional love and acceptance that every child deserves. Unfortunately, a mother may be one of the only people to show that deep level of empathy to her son in today’s world. Hopefully, the next generation will be full of moms and dads who together naturally empathize with their children because that’s how they were raised.
A Relationship Like No Other
Every parent and child relationship is unique and brings so much joy and love to all. The dynamics of mother and son are intertwined in a truly remarkable way, and it’s a relationship that can bring out the best in each person. Mothers get to harness their strength, protection, and action, while boys get to embody their creativity, intuition, and emotions. This beautiful combination of feminine and masculine creates an easy and enjoyable balance between mother and son. I can’t prove it with science, but I know with my own heart it is true.