For generations, mothers have gotten the same old message when it comes to raising sons: beware of keeping him “too close.” A mom who nurtures a deep emotional bond will prevent him from growing up to be a strong, independent man. By refusing to cut those apron strings, she is on track to create the archetypal, effeminate, maladjusted “mama’s boy.” There’s one problem with this theory: it’s just not true.Not true? I hope it is not true, but here is the dubious research:
Nurturing mothers can help their sons develop emotional intelligence, encouraging them to talk about their feelings and recognize those of others. ... One study of 400 middle-school boys in New York City public schools revealed that boys who were closer to their mothers were less likely to define masculinity as a matter of being tough, stoic and self-reliant. (Study said: Using a mental-health measure called the Children's Depression Inventory, he also found that boys who shunned masculine stereotypes and remained more emotionally available had, on average, better rates of mental health through middle school.) ... What’s more, these young men will be better equipped to navigate today’s economy, in which communication skills and teamwork are more important for success than brute physical strength or dominance.So the studies did find that the mama's boys were less masculine but the researchers redefined mental health in terms of having feminized personalities that encourage sharing feelings with others, and say that our feminized economy now has more demand for mama's boys.
Yes, families, schools, and jobs are more feminized than ever. The psychology profession was feminized a long time ago, so they cheer the decline of masculinity.
The current Time mag cover story has this wishful thinking:
Now that women are poised to become the major breadwinners in a majority of families within the next generation, this research suggests that men will be just as adaptive and realize what an advantage a high-earning partner can be. Men are just as willing as women to marry up, and life is now giving them the opportunity to do so. So, women, own up to your accomplishments, buy him a drink, and tell him what you really do.The supporting research is this:
In February 2012, the Hamilton Project, a Brookings Institution initiative that tracks trends in earnings and life prospects, found that marriage rates have risen for top female earners — the share of women in the very top earning percentile who are married grew by more than 10 percentage points — even as they have declined for women in lower earning brackets. (The report also suggested that the decline in those lower brackets may be because women can support themselves and are dissuaded from marriage by the declining earnings of men.)Note that the marriage success was only for the women in the top 1% of salaries. The rest of the women are more likely to divorce their husbands after the wife earns more money.