Thirty Seconds Ago… Transitional Awkwardness

Dealing with your parents as you get older can be very liberating. It can also be very awkward. Both parties are trying to learn each other and respect each other as individuals rather than extensions. Mother and Father will both have to go through this process on their own with each individual child; and since I am the oldest, I seemed to have gotten all of the awkwardness. My mother pretty much had a smooth transition, since she was a stay-at-home mom. My dad on the other hand, found it a bit more complicated to deal with us as adults. Not in a bad way, but when he was concerned about us (his oldest boys), he had to get used to conveying it. So he used my mom as a medium until he got better at it.

How was this awkward? Let me give you an example…

A few years ago, my dad made a startling discovery about me that I guess he just never noticed. One night I knocked on my parent’s bedroom door to ask my mom a question. As we talked, I noticed my dad staring directly; intently, as if I had done something wrong. When I looked at him though, he looked away. I continued my conversation with my mom. A few seconds later, my dad is peering into my face again as though he is trying to detect a lie or something. I stopped talking, looked at him again, and waited for him to interject. He turned back to the television. At this point, I had the information I needed from my mom and started out of the room, completely weirded out by my dad’s strange behavior.

Now my dad is a person of concern, but has very little tact when showing it — like any typical dad, I would imagine. So before I can get out of the room, I hear him ask my mom, in a tone that was supposed to be a whisper, “Sharon… Is that boy crossed-eyed?”

I stopped. I turned around and looked my mom directly in the eyes and replied, “A little bit.”

The look on his face was a gasp away from bewildered. It was like he was meeting me for the first time Thirty Seconds Ago. I actually enjoyed seeing him uncomfortable because it was new to me; and I was the cause of it. I wanted to exaggerate the laziness in my left eye and just train it on him to see how he would react.

He could have just asked me, “Reggie, have you been wearing your contacts or glasses?” I would have known exactly what he was referring to, but because of that transitional awkwardness, the whole situation was weird. Since then, I think he has been paying close attention to my younger siblings, as not to ever be caught off guard like that again!

Mama’s Boy

If you ask me if I’m a mama’s boy, you probably couldn’t even give me an accurate definition of what that term means. It will probably be vague like, “You do everything she says” or “You tell her everything.” What I have done is defined the term in to four categories; two of which are healthy, and the other two, not so much.

The first thing that you have to realize is that under normal circumstances, the mother is the first woman that a guy will learn to deal with. Every standard and view of a woman that he will have, will initially be from what he has gathered from interactions with his mother. So in turn, if a guy loves his mother (which most guys do), the girl that he chooses to date or marry will more than likely share some characteristics with his mother— even if it’s simply physical resemblance. So if he chooses to pursue you, then you are already in a pretty good place— unless he has been pampered into adulthood. If that’s the case, you may be being viewed as another mother.

What a lady should try to figure out is not whether her guy is a mama’s boy or not. What she should try to figure out, is whether he’s the good kind or the bad kind. Every man should have a healthy relationship with his mom. I’m pretty sure every (normal) woman would like to have a man who shares a healthy relationship with his mom. I think what most women want are non-expressive independent mama’s boys.

I have put together a pretty simple chart that breaks down mama’s boys into four basic groups.

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The type of family and the man’s placement in that family will weigh the most in determining which one of these categories that he will fall into. I have also broken the type of family placement for the man down into four categories with slight variations. They are the only child, the only boy, the youngest child, and the eldest child.

Placement in the Family

Only Child:

The only child is almost a given. He and his mother will be inseparable. That is her only child so every bit of maternal instinct that she is possible of providing will all go into him and his well-being. By the time he is old enough to date, I believe it’s a natural defense for her to be suspicious of any other female coming into his life. By this time I think it is safe to say that the young man will have learned to trust completely in his mother which will make it extremely difficult for any woman to get close to him. When you have a boy that has been raised as an only child, he will typically fall under the category of captive expressive.

Only Boy:

The only is a tricky one. He will definitely be used to being catered to. Sisters will have some of the same characteristics of a mother has, so the effects can be pretty bad. More than likely he will probably fall under the captive category… And the expressive category. Even though the only boy would still commonly fall into the captive expressive category, they are still pretty rare.

Youngest Child:

I think the youngest child is a wild card. It’s almost impossible to determine what category the youngest child will fall under. This category is the only one where the other two factors (which are discussed below) outweigh his placement in the family.

Eldest Child:

The eldest child will definitely be expressive. Whether or not he is captive or independent will depend on the other two factors discussed below. The eldest child is just that. The first that the mother will do anything with. The first that the mother will learn to parent. And the eldest will immediately become an extended right hand helping the mother as responsibilities grow, especially with added siblings. The bond between the eldest son and mother is almost the same as the only son and mother.


Two Key Factors

The Father:

The first of the two key factors outside of child placement in the family is fatherly input. What type of role the father plays in raising his son, can tilt the scale in any direction. Just to give a personal example, when I was 16 years old I went to work with my dad one day. My met us at work to join us for lunch. Since we were riding in my dad’s pickup truck, I got in before my mom to let her be on the outside. My father told my mom to sit next to him and let me sit on the end because I was “learning to be a man.” Back then I thought he just wanted my mom to sit next to him, but it made me feel like tough stuff.

There was another instance when I was about 19 or 20 years old. A friend of mine was on her way to pick me up one night. With me being the eldest child, my mom automatically did not care too much for the young lady. On my way out my mom talked about how she did not think I should be hanging with this girl and how she just rubbed her the wrong way. If my dad had not been present, I would have stayed home to make my mother happy. My dad ushered me out of the door and said, “Have a good night and be home on time.” It clicked for me then that, I have two parents that I have to consider and get input from when making a decision. Looking back at those two simple gestures of fatherhood saved me from being like Terrence J from “Think Like a Man”. From growing up with a father, I have learned to take suggestions from mother and strongly consider and value each and every one of her opinions. However, if dad says “Yes” or “No”, then thats what it is… because mama can’t teach me to be a man.

Number of Siblings:

The second factor is the number of children the mama’s boy is raised with. This is where having a lot of siblings come in handy, especially for the younger boys. When I started getting older and bringing girls around, it was the saving grace of my father that I could even talk to them. I was the oldest boy and this was my mother’s first time having to deal with “outsiders”. Being the oldest of seven, and five of which are boys, my mom didn’t have much time to spend on saving me from strange girls. Now that she have four boys of dating age, she’s used to it. She secure with me being responsible in who I choose to be with, while only gently guiding the younger boys. It was a learning curve that she too had to go through being taught by life, her own boys and her husband. Overall the more children a mother has, the more it dilutes the effect of the mama’s boy syndrome. By the time all of my brothers are grown the term mama’s boy will be something that my mother will find amusing. She will probably be tell some younger mother, “You have to learn to let them grow up.”

Hopefully this can be somewhat of a guide to figuring out what type of mama’s boy you have. If you take into account his placement in his family, the role of his father, and the number of siblings he have, you can just about stick him in one of these categories. Another thing that you can not leave out is what you see. You know what you see and what you hear, from him and his mother. Don’t make excuses for him. The wrong type of mama’s boy will have you caring for his mother and neglecting your own.

So the answer is yes. Yes I am a proud independent expressive mama’s boy. I’m also a daddy’s boy, a brother’s boy and a sister’s boy. So don’t let the term mama’s boy frighten you. More than likely if you get a good guy, he is going to be a mama’s boy to some degree, but just like anything else, there has to be balance.