How To Have A Healthy Mother-Son Relationship

The Huffington Post Canada   Martha Edwards First Posted: 09/20/11 02:06 PM ET Updated: 11/14/11 05:12 AM ET

Mamas Boy

Do you suspect you might be raising a mama's boy? If your son prefers cuddles to cowboys and baking to baseball, it's not necessarily a bad thing. Recent longitudinal studies carried out by researchers at several universities and published in the latest edition of Child Development have determined that a mother's relationship with her son as a toddler can determine their relationship well into adolescence.

In other words? The more loving a toddler is to you while he's young, the more loving he's likely to be as he grows into his teen years. Of course, the opposite is true as well: temperamental toddlers have a tendency to grow into surly teenagers who have high levels of conflict with their mothers.

And, whereas mothers who had good relationships with their toddler sons were more likely to have a tight bond with their teenager, mothers who had tempestuous relationships with their sons during childhood weren't close to their sons in adolescence. What's more, while mama's boys were more likely to form close friendships with their peers, the other boys had a tendency to engage in delinquent behaviours.

So it sets a precedence for mothers as they build relationships with their children.

"These results suggest that successfully adapting to the transitions of childhood and adolescence may require parents and children to maintain relatively high levels of closeness and minimize conflict in their relationships," says lead author Christopher Trentacosta from Wayne State University in Detroit. "The findings also have implications for prevention and intervention," he added. "Family-focused programs should address conflict in the parent-child relationship if the goal is to reduce delinquent behavior, and should foster greater closeness between parents and children if improving peer relationships is the goal."

Trentacosta and his team examined 265 mother-and-son pairs from low-income families in Pittsburgh. They took into account aspects like the neighbourhood they lived in, the quality of parenting and the relationship between the mother and her romantic partner. Interestingly, it was determined that mothers with good romantic relationships had better relationships with their sons.

So forming a good relationship with your son early on is crucial. Still balance is key -- becoming a helicopter parent has its dangers, too.

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