Score one for the nice boys

Being a mama’s boy, new research suggests, may be good for your mental health. That, at least, is the conclusion of a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association by Carlos Santos, a professor at Arizona State University’s School of Social and Family Dynamics.

Santos recently conducted a study that followed 426 boys through middle school to investigate the extent to which the boys favor stereotypically male qualities such as emotional stoicism and physical toughness over stereotypically feminine qualities such as emotional openness and communication, and whether that has any influence on their mental well-being. His main finding was that the further along the boys got in their adolescence, the more they tended to embrace hypermasculine stereotypes. But boys who remained close to their mothers did not act as tough and were more emotionally available. …

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. “If you look at the effect size of my findings, mother support and closeness was the most predictive of boys’ ability to resist [hypermasculine] stereotypes and therefore predictive of better mental health,” Santos says.

buddies-insidevia Emotional Openness May Be Good for Males’ Mental Health – TIME.

How about we stop this whole “mama’s boy” stereotype altogether, ‘kay? Let’s just say that human beings — male or female or self-identified other — are healthier and happier when they are allowed and encouraged to be in touch with their feelings and taught skills to communicate effectively.

I mean, duh, people. Really and truly DUH.

Comments 7

  1. gh, there are things that are so “like, DUH!” because of the values i have; but very evidently they /aren’t/ the values of some others. and i get frusterated and drained trying to justify myself (or even defend myself). i’ve come to .. just .. avoid such discussions (or what they usually are are just “discussions” — no real listening going on), and i actually am not sure how to do handle them or what to think of this entire phenemenon.

    i wonder how people deal with things like this. get so draining for me. do people just find other like-minded people to nurture them? but sometimes you run into it in general society and — blah.

    anyhow, just putting MY emotions out there; hope it’s not too innappropriate to be sharing in your comments section of your blog!

  2. yes, and yes. I don’t like the term “mama’s boy” – unless we can reclaim it! I think that homeschooling through the middle school years will help my son to develop his own interests and be more confident in the coming years. He also has a dad who is emotionally open, so that has to figure into it as well.

  3. So love your response to this article. Did we really need a study to tell us this? Did my tax dollars pay for that? And I think we should throw out the term “mama’s boy” altogether as well, because it will always connote an unhealthy attachment…or a weirdo with mommy issues that can’t commit to a girlfriend.

  4. Well, I did all the stuff you did, nursed my kids 2-3 years, had the baby sling, got rid of the crib after the first one climbed out at about 14 months, and never left my babies alone. In Jr. High they barely spoke to me, and were and are pretty macho, reserved guys who do not talk about feelings, at least not to me. Yes, they are “nice guys” in the sense of being honorable men, not violent, honest, hard-working, but they were never in any sense “mama’s boys” nor would I want them to be. They were not jocks as they were not into team sports, but they all turned out very athletic and still do intense individual sports as adults. All my sons were fascinated with medieval weapons and swords, two collected knives, one did archery, but they would never harm a fly. My father was a “real guy”, quiet, matter of fact, no feelings discussed, but he was one of the best men around. His yearbook picture featured the Shakespeare quote,”I dare do all that becomes a man, who dares do more is none.” I included that in his euology.

    As to the “mama’s boy” thing, my surrendered son who could not stand his crazy adoptive mother has much the same reserved personality as the ones I raised.

    Plus my experience with Jr. High both for myself and my kids was that any kid who was “different” in any way, male or female, got picked on unmercifully, and that can’t be good for your mental health. I know not all feminine-seeming guys are gay, but have you read any biographies of gay men and how much “fun” they had as teens? That can’t be conducive to mental health, being afraid every day of bullies. I was a girl who was picked on for being weird, and I was suicidal in Jr. High. I just can’t imagine how mama made it all better for my male counterparts at that age, I am suspicious of this study, and of dividing traits into “good” feminine and “bad” masculine.

  5. I also read a quick review of a study recently that following children for thirty years, and discovered that those who had been parented “extravagantly” in terms of attention had better mental health as adults. The article didn’t define what the study considered extravagent, but since they started it thirty years ago, I wonder if it is what we consider more typical now? I keep meaning to look it up, but I’m using it to bolster my belief that paying a lot of attention to my kids is good for them. Because I like to do it anyway, and now I have data!

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