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Explaining Why Financially Independent Men Rarely Call Their Mothers

Published 5/11/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

I recently read a very interesting online article from an English (United Kingdom) website today called the Times Online (I know it's a well known site for British people, but I've never heard of it before). While the views expressed seem to come from a European perspective, with some interesting but different English terminology used in the comments section such as "blokes" and "birds" (translation: "guys" and "gals"), much of the opinion piece is also applicable to the American experience. The article addressed the familiar but sometimes complicated question of why today's modern men seem reluctant, burdened, or feel socially awkward when it comes to talking about their moms or when it comes to actually calling them on a regular basis.

Today was Mother's Day so I did manage to contact my mother who lives overseas with my dad to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. Of course she was quite surprised but happy to hear my message (she is my mom after all), but I think she mostly enjoyed the rarity of it all. I can't remember the last time I ever gave her a present or anything on Mother's day (during elementary school maybe), but I think on some level she understands that grown up sons at some point in their lives must exercise that desired financial and social independence from their parents, particularly from their moms. While I do love my mom to death, it is true - there is also something very unattractive and rather unhealthy for a man who is too clingy with his mother and refuses to cut the proverbial umbilical cord.

In General, Boys, Men, and Sons Have A Primitive But Instinctively Driven Desire To Seek Social and Financial Independence From Their Parental Guardians

This common practice and social phenomenon of sons never calling their mothers and only doing so when they actually need something from them seems to be quite prevalent. Haven't you seen the recent Comcast Digital Voice mother's day commercial? The commercial was advertising the company's new digital phone service and was encouraging all viewers, but men in particular, to sign up with Comcast phone access this mother's day so they could give their mothers a call and wish them well. The funny commercial had scenes of mothers of all countries and languages clutching phones to their ears and systemically fainting to the ground in disbelief as the voices of their sons sounded through the ear pieces. The humorous punch line is that sons never call, thus when they do, it creates such a monumental shock to the mothers that it leaves them dumbfounded.

But the truth of the matter is that most of the male friends I know, myself included rarely call or contact our moms. The more financially and socially independent men tend to be more self reliant and don't feel the need to call their moms on a daily, weekly or even semi regular basis to talk about nothing in particular. If you asked me when was the last time that I actually called my mom or either parent over the phone, and not counting the times they called me first, I would have to offer you an embarrassed guilty look and say over 6 months to a 1 year ago. Ever since I became financially independent after graduate school and no longer needed to beg my parents for money, I've relied on my own abilities to eek out a living. Since then I've learned to take care of myself, gotten used to setting my own schedule, arranging my own meals, and keeping myself out of trouble. Everytime my parents call (especially when it's my mom), I innately feel like I just reverted back to a childlike state in which I am still nagged and coddled by my guardians. Every time my dad calls he always wants to chat about my job or where I'm going with my life professionally and occupationally. But everytime the phone gets handed off to my mom, she starts chatting incessantly and repetitively about my diet, what I eat, what I shouldn't eat, the importance of needing to cook for myself, and my sleeping habits. The nagging about my living lifestyle could seriously go on and on for hours if I didn't conclude it at some point. Everytime I talk to them I feel like I'm in elementary school again, but the fact of the matter is I'm not. I'm a grown adult, with a full time job, who is paying the rent, taking care of the bills, and fending for myself as a man should.

The Social Difference Between How Grown Up Sons and Daughters Treat Their Parents

Sexist, stereotypical or not, I think most girls and women are closer to their mothers than boys and men are. Daughters simply are more driven to call their mothers on a regular basis and chat about random things like their eating habits, living habits, who they are seeing, or whether they are happy or not. It's probably the inherent differences in male and female nature that explain why they treat their parents so differently once they've left the family nest. Perhaps women are simply more inclined to pick up the phone and call their moms or anyone else for that matter due to the lifetime motherly bond between them that's never broken or altered. Maybe it's how we are molded when we are young - daughters are generally raised to become nurturers, gatherers, and future mothers, while men are usually raised to become grown up hunters, and caretakers of their future brood. When I pick up the phone, I call a person for a specific purpose and not just to shoot the breeze. I always find it strange when some people call for no reason at all then just to chat.

When I was young, I always saw emotional reliance and financial dependence on my parents as a tremendous weakness. My view was that I would never become my own man until I could break away from them and financially fend for myself. I still hold that view today and see single friends in their early and mid 30's who are still living at home with their moms and dads as pretty strange. I understand there are key differences in certain European, Asian, and Indian cultures whereby sons are expected to live at home with the parents until they marry, but I'm viewing all of this mostly through the classic American perspective that encourages independence, especially when it comes to males. I love my mom very much and she's done a wonderful job of letting her two sons go off into the world on their own, but I know many other moms out there have trouble letting their little boys become men. It's important to keep your little solider safe when he is young, but at some point you have to kick him out of the nest for his own good. The best thing my mom ever did for me was to let me be, and let me make mistakes and learn on my own.

Personally, I think it's natural for men to want to break away from their mom's embrace at some point. It's all part of the growing up and rite of passage experience for males. How is he expected to one day take care of his own family if he cannot assert his own independence and take care of himself before letting others help take care of him. Besides, what woman would want a man who incessantly clings onto his mother? I know some women out there claim that they desire a man who loves his mom and treats her well, but obviously what women wouldn't? Being kind and treating one's mom well is one thing, but being a mama's boy and always calling the mom to get her advice and approval is a little strange when the guy starts to reach his 30's, 40's or even 50's. Living at home as a single male and having your mom still cook your food, do your laundry, and pick up after you just seems extremely childish. I have no problem with a girl or daughter calling her mom regularly after marriage, but when I hear about men who constantly feel the need to call their moms to get approvals or give updates, I simply find them to be very wimpy, for a lack of a better word. My mom will always be my mom and she will always have a special place in my personal hierarchy of women, but at some point, sons have to grow up and join the world of men and inevitably leave their moms behind to a certain degree. However, I will always treat my mom with love and respect - but not as a little boy, but as a grown up, financially independent man.

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24 Responses to “Explaining Why Financially Independent Men Rarely Call Their Mothers” 

  1. JustADatingBird says:

    I'm afraid you've fallen into the logical fallacy of extrapolating from your own personal biases to assume that your beliefs are universal.

    I'm not certain that mature, grounded, self-actualized men need to "break away" from their mothers in order to feed their ego needs for a juvenile kind of independence.

    In fact, mature and psychologically balanced men have healthy relationships with their parents and siblings, that reaches a healthy middle ground between dependence and neglect.

    And when a woman meets a guy, if he has nothing to do with his mother, that is as big a red flag as if he has an oedipal crush on her.

    Don't believe me? Ask a woman. Or a mother. Or a shrink.

    Or even just a grown up guy.

  2. mug says:

    I think this guy is juvenile and disgraceful. Of course men need to break away from their parents, including their mums, but to say that to neglect your mum on a regular basis is manly thing to do is ridiculous. He intimated that his mum rarely even got a call on Mother's Day. Wow, what a guy! What a man! Wow, any woman would want this guy in her life...look how he treats his own mother. I think he is a disgrace. Honoring him mum on special day is a sign of a true man, just for starters. So hope he is dishonored by his own kids someday when he is old and lonely...he will truly deserve it.

  3. Joe says:

    I also think this baby boy is a disgrace. He is not a man. A real man makes it his business to keep in touch with his mother. Its called respect, honor thy mother, love thy mother. She is the woman who gave birth to me, and has unconditional love for me. I don't over do it and never feel obligated when I call my mom. I do it because I care about how she is doing, and I love her. I've never felt forced in anyway to cater to my mom, and I don't do that, although she deserves to be catered to. I am a married financially independent male and my wife doesn't call my mom, she says she doesn't have time. I love my wife and children and don't care if my wife ignores my mother. I don't think my mother cares either. I have a very happy marriage, however, when my wife gets old and grey maybe our son's wife will give her the cold shoulder. She will probably be to busy for her.

  4. Mark says:

    You guys who don't call and ignore your mothers' are jerks. Too bad your mothers' didn't abort you ungrateful pieces of garbage. Or better yet, they should have left you bloody turds in a toilet bowl.

  5. Melanie says:

    Its sad the mother was "suprised" to hear from him on Mother's Day. It should be EXPECTED that a child, even an adult child, remembers a parent's birthdays, etc. unless the parental relationship was awful or abusive from birth.
    While I agree its important to have a healthy amount of distance from parents and that we need to cut the umbilical chord, that doesnt mean we are given permission to not care or think about them or honor them. What has happened in this society that has made it "cool" to become thoughtless???

  6. CinD76 says:

    I am actually surprised by the previous responses. All of my girlfriend's husbands are just like this guy, and my brothers too. MOST guys don't call mommy to "catch up" with the weeks or months events because, plainly so, men are not wired to chat like women do. In most cases they are inclined to say a quick hi to mom then pass the phone off to the wife to get the details. I think it is perfectly natural, normal male behavior. To say anyone should have been aborted or disowned is just RIDICULOUS and completely inappropriate. Whether you like it or not this gentlman's statement, in my experience, is the opinion of most men. Differing opinions are not the norm but the exception. I only wish more men had the guts to admit this is how they really feel, and more moms could accept it. FYI...I have NEVER heard any of my girlfriends say they had reservations about NOT marrying their current husbands because of their relationship/lack of relationship with their moms. That is total immaturity and nonsense. As well, my mother is completely fine with the fact that the ONLY child she hears from regularly is me-her daughter. A secure woman knows her children love her whether they call once a month or once a year.

  7. Raymond says:

    CinD76,

    Thanks for the moral support there. I didn't realize I would raise the ire of so many people when I originally wrote this blog article piece but I guess I understand why so many readers would be so irritated at my explanation.

    I would like to think that I'm just calling it as I see it - not trying to hide the realities or make it all politically correct. Admittedly, while somewhat progressive, I'm not the most liberal of individuals and still hold onto certain traditional, perhaps even sexist conservative notions. It's just how I am.

  8. Sue says:

    I can count the number of times on my fingers that my brother would ring or write our mother during the 20 yrs he's lived abroad and the infrequency of communication deeply hurt her as it would most mothers. I used to have to write my brother and tell him to write or ring her so that she didn't feel so bad. I only fully realised the depth of sadness my brother's neglect caused her when my own sons left home and claimed their independence. It's a very sad day when you lose your mother. You have longings for a chat that you can't have. A mature man does not find that wimpish.

  9. Switch says:

    I think you feel that way Sue because you are a woman. No one is losing their mother by not calling. Mothers ought to understand that it's just the natural order of things...that sons, brothers, and males tend to be more independent and naturally want to cut the umbilical cord, while females naturally prefer to cling on.

    I call my mother regularly...about once or twice a month depending on whether I have time or not or whether I'm busy due to work or my own family issues. But yes, sometimes I do have a tendency to hand the phone off to the wife for her to give the nitty gritty details. But that's more because women simply love to talk on the phone...and boy does my wife love to yak all day long.

    But I call my mom because I just want to let her know what I'm up to, not because I am "longing for a chat". And yes, a man who is constantly calling his mom is very wimpish and boyish.. True men love their mothers, but they don't live like a little boy forever. Of course the rules for women are very different. That's just how it is. Sure it's sexist, but it It's all biological.

  10. Sue says:

    I feel this way because I am a Mother. You obviously missed the point, but I think you wanted to. My mother lost her son. Reread my post!

    It sounds pretty reasonable to me to hear from a son once or twice a month, but you obviously have an issue with how you treat your mother, or you wouldn't have felt the need to reply to my post telling me how often you speak to her. Perhaps you should tell your mother what you've said here, as I think your post is really meant for her. Indeed your comments are very sexist and there is more than a hint of disrespect in your post, not only for "the mother", but other men, who don't happen to fit with your own macho image of yourself as being the "True Man" or whatever that label represents in your mind. There are many men who speak to their mothers frequently, especially as they get older and less able to care for themselves and they are anything but deserving of the label wimpish and boyish or not True Men. They are mature men. And yes, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but when your mother dies, you will be "longing for a chat", just as we all do when we lose people we love. And that is the natural order of things!

  11. Sandi says:

    Any man that does not understand how much a simple phone call means to a mom is not a REAL man and he is far beyond selfish. It's too bad mom's are not psychic and so they could just drop these "future jerks" on a doorstep after they give birth to them and let someone else spend their lives nurturing a child that becomes a "man" and feels it's perfectly ok to toss his mom aside as easily as yesterday's trash.

  12. roze says:

    Interesting article...I am feeling sad because my only child, my beloved son hasn't called for a long time and really never does and never just to see how I am. I googled to get some insight and your blog came up first. I felt better when I read it and laughed when I realized I ask the same questions as your mother ad nauseum...when I hear his voice I am wired, as I guess other mothers are, to talk about food, exercise, habits blah, blah, blah... I seem to get worried about the bloody food thing when I am on the phone but not any other time! Perhaps it is because we don't know what to say because we don't talk that often (and I really don't know any men that do talk on the phone to anyone just to chat) and if there isn't some noteworthy event to discuss it is difficult if said son is not a chatterbox. He never forgets Mothers Day or birthdays etc. for that wouild indeed be cruel. What I find so awful is that I start to worry whether he is okay or not...I have learned to text now, which is great...a friend told me it is the only way your kids will communicate these days....so I ask if he is okay and always get a positive reply...so that is great. Wow, Mothers and Sons...what a subject!

  13. Scientific says:

    The mother-son bond is perhaps the strongest in the animal kingdom. Family is the most important thing in the world. Unconditional love is extreamly rare.

  14. Roses says:

    I found this website just by writing: 'mothers whose sons don't contact them once they're married'. So you can see where I'm coming from. It hurts and baffles me deeply that my son hasn't called, or written even a text, in six weeks. And these are weeks where I've been very ill. His wife sent a text the other day on his behalf. What hurts even more is that he sees her mother on at least a weekly basis and chats amicably with her over Sunday dinner. I like his wife and love their children of course, and I like my opposite mum too. We sometimes meet up socially just to shop or have coffee etc.
    Reading the original blog, I began to see that maybe there is an explanation that doesn't have anything to do with my son not loving me anymore... (years ago, I kept him afloat financially and emotionally when he was going through a lengthy phase of unemployment and other problems. Could it be that he feels guilty and even a little sheepish? Maybe so. But he's doing well financially now and is a success. I, and all the family are delighted for him. The replies however, brought me up short. My son, whatever his complicated internal reasoning, has neglected me badly over the past few years, and it hurts like hell. It really does. My other son is much kinder and has no problems with keeping in touch. My daughter despairs of her brother's behaviour and does not feel the affection for him that she once did. She sees my pain even though I keep it underwraps as best I can.

  15. charle says:

    Think of the time one spends on their computer or blackberry or watching television. Now it is most likely that a lot of time taken up in these activities. Communication with family members is non existent because people have become selfishly withdrawn because of technology. The world today is a deeply lonely place for many people who are forgotten by family members. It isn't about independence it is about selfishness.

  16. Sue says:

    I found your comments very interesting. I am going to visit my 35 year old son and his children for a few days. I do this on a pretty regular basis, however my daughter-in-law will not be there with us.

    This opportunity rarely happens and I began searching the web for ways for the two of us to reconnect.

    I really want to try not to be such a MOM and perhaps we can get to know each other on a different level.

    When I searched on the web, I came up with some really strange articles. However, I did find the article by William Sutcliffe and plan to buy the book.

    Your article also gave me perspective into the brain of an adult son which is not something easily understood by mothers. It's not me! He just doesn't talk on the phone like my daughter and I do. He does tell me he hates talking on the phone.

    Thanks for listening/reading. I do have ideas, however would appreciate any suggestions to get the 'ball' rolling for us.

  17. SH says:

    Excellent article! I agree....grow up, previous responders and PAY ATTENTION to your own wifes (or husbands)...Mommy time has passed and it is NOT your responsibility to financially or emotionally support these grown women. Gave birth as an excuse....she made the choice to lay in bed with no condom (no excuse to hold guilt over your head). All you mean who feel you must call and chat on the regular should really research COVERT INCEST (emotional incest)...sounds like the responders here have a serious case of this

  18. Brenda says:

    This article was great. It's so nice to hear how people feel about their moms/sons. There are all kinds of moms and all kinds of sons as you well know. Our son is our 6'5" "baby" boy. He's so much fun to be around. He's married, financially independent and has an adorable little girl. He's a great daddy and a pretty good husband. We text. That's the way I know he's alive and well. That's his way of communicating. He's never been much of a phone person to anyone. The comments above have been enlightening. I'm confused when I text or e-mail and my questions go unanswered, when he immediately replies to our daughter. So reading this just wakes me up to the fact that he's busy doing his thang! I love him to death and he loves both of us, his parents. We see him on special occasions and then some. But I enjoyed hearing how to just leave him alone with his health habits (he plays basketball recreationally) (smokes pot recreationally) and enjoys his family very much. I remember how my husband never called his mom either and when I was younger I thought that to be rather sad. Now I see in this busy world there are other things men would rather do, especially sports. While our son is no wimp, he's his own man and we love him just the way he is. He's not on our doorstep begging for money, etc. Occasionally we babysit his little girl and love watching her grow. She's 3 and has her daddy's sense of humor. We're used to the way he is and guess what? We have 3 daughters who call all the time, we are very close and this sometimes drives us crazy with all the 10 grandchildren, events, etc. So it's wonderful to have a son who doesn't bug us, who we see when need be. Sometimes I would like to see more of him but, hey, he has a life to live too. God bless him, he grew up great being the youngest of 4 with 3 older sisters. Can you imagine? His dog is a male! We're so thankful we have a wonderful son even if he doesn't return calls. I guess for those who don't communicate well with their sons, could go adopt another person's son who needs mothering for some reason and then get it out of your system...kinda like volunteering at the VA or a hospital...to satisfy any of your needs. We might be sad that he doesn't change a lightbulb for us, but we're fortunate enough that we can hire someone if we need to, like he does! We are so grateful that we have a healthy, happy son.

  19. Kathy says:

    I had mixed feelings about the original post, but found a bit of comfort in the poster's assertion that he does love his mother, even though he rarely has any contact with her. My oldest son is deceased. When he was happy with his life, he rarely called and I felt badly about that. During the last year of his life, when he was miserably unhappy, he called me almost nightly. I felt badly about that, too, as there was nothing I could do or say to make his troubles go away or make his life happier. My second son is independent, highly successful, married to a wife he adores, and has three beautiful children. He is also a workaholic. He seldom communicates with me. In addition, his wife is joined at the hip, so to speak, with her own mother. I've learned to accept that I'm just not part of the equation. My oldest daughter lives less than an hour away. About the only time I hear from her or see her outside of special dates or holidays is when she needs a baby sitter, which is seldom. My younger daughter is very much independent and lives in another state. She calls me, without prompting, every week or two, which is extremely gratifying for me. I love hearing from her. I've come to think that every parent experiences disappointment or feels neglected sometimes -- mothers especially, because we've invested so much of ourselves emotionally during those child-rearing years and may see attention from our grown children as a "return on our investment". It's a mindset I think we must unlearn, or at least let go of. I "let go" (on the surface) some time ago. I'm still struggling to let go internally... and I'm not sure I'll ever truly succeed.

  20. Oolang says:

    I'm a woman, and I was mostly raised by my father with my other siblings. My siblings relied a lot on me the oldest a lot then we relied on each other in our teens and early twenties. I speak to one of them briefly every day almost. A lot of it is small insignificant stuff. And I don't feel the need to contact my mother or father on a regular basis. I average once a Month for dad and every 6 months for mom. I don't have much in common with her except genetics. It's not a belief, it's just that I don't want to and feel guilty for not feeling guilty about not calling. Now my father wouldn't want to hear from me everyday because he's finds life interesting and is always seeking out different adventures whether that's at the local grocery store to traveling abroad. My mom works a lot and she would like to hear from me often, but doesn't push it. By the way I'm financially independent and have been since 1 or 2 years out of college, which I paid for. I guess because of who I am I find it strange when men call their moms for help with decisions, but calling to say hello each day, I find that fair. Same for a woman, I find it very strange if she could not make decisions without consulting her patents but calling all the time to say hello is not a bad idea if that's how your naturally feel.

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