Explaining Why Financially Independent Men Rarely Call Their Mothers
Published 5/11/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
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.