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The Mama's Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger Hardcover – March 15, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An informative, hopeful book that delves into an important topic-how moms can help raise emotionally healthy sons. Mothers of sons, take note: Kate Stone Lombardi tells us that what we have instinctually known—that the stereotype of the stoic Marlboro Man emotionless young male is just that—a stereotype. It turns out, our wonderful sons relish connection and affection just as much as our fantastic daughters—and Lombardi tell us, those are relationships to celebrate."
—Peg Tyre, author of The Trouble with Boys

“A provocative debut…an insightful, timely study”
Kirkus Reviews 

The Mama’s Boy Myth takes on the idea that mothers who are close to their mothers make them weak or effeminate…in fact, Lombardi says, strong mother-son relationships have mainly positive effects.” 
The Wall Street Journal

 “Stop Worrying About Raising A Mama’s Boy…. It sounds like a myth of yesteryear, but Kate Stone Lombardi, frequent New York Times contributor and author of  The Mama’s Boy Myth, says the hangover from generations of gender preconceptions affects us all, and that in many families and communities, mothers still find themselves urged to push their sons away at exactly the moments (like starting school and becoming a teenager) when our boys need us most — and that even when we don’t, we find it hard to talk about how close we are to our sons.”
The New York Times

 “Will a close mother-son relationship create another Norman Bates? Far from it, says Kate Stone Lombardi, author of The Mama’s Boy Myth …From the myth of Oedipus to the movie Psycho, narrative after narrative harps on the idea that mothers can damage their sons, make them weak, awkward and dependent. But for millions of men, the opposite has turned out to be true.”  
—NPR "All Things Considered"

 “It’s a relief to know that the mother-son connection gives boys a good start in life.”
The Toronto Globe and Mail

 “Moms are expected to help their sons develop a healthy masculine identity, not by holding them close, but by pushing their sons away. Award winning journalist Lombardi’s provocative new book, The Mama’s Boy Myth, reveals surprising research that doesn’t just contradict this theory – it blows it out of the water. Far from damaging their sons, mothers who have a nurturing, close relationship with their male children are imparting innumerable benefits at every stage of development.”
—SheKnows.com

“When she was raising her two children, Kate Stone Lombardi—a seasoned journalist for The New York Times—was taken aback by the assumptions of so many people around her, who said it was best to distance herself from her son to avoid him becoming a “mama’s boy.” But Lombardi’s parenting instincts went against all of the advice that she was hearing. Synthesizing years of research with hundreds of her own interviews with mothers, sons, fathers and experts, she presents a solid argument to those naysayers in her book, The Mama’s Boy Myth. Both the data and the personal anecdotes demonstrate that fostering a close mother-son relationship results in emotionally evolved, empathetic and successful men.”  
New York Press
 

“Kate Stone Lombardi is an exemplary journalist and in her book, The Mama’s Boy Myth, brilliantly dismantles our society's misguided fear that boys’ connections to their mothers can be too close, showing that such healthy mother-son connections lead to the creation of healthier, more empathic, successful men in our society—Real Boys & Real Men!"
—William Pollack, author of Real Boys

"An informative, hopeful book that delves into an important topic-how moms can help raise emotionally healthy sons. Mothers of sons, take note: Kate Stone Lombardi tells us that what we have instinctually known—that the stereotype of the stoic Marlboro Man emotionless young male is just that—a stereotype. It turns out, our wonderful sons relish connection and affection just as much as our fantastic daughters—and Lombardi tell us, those are relationships to celebrate."
—Peg Tyre, author of The Trouble with Boys

“A provocative debut…an insightful, timely study”
Kirkus Reviews 

The Mama’s Boy Myth takes on the idea that mothers who are close to their mothers make them weak or effeminate…in fact, Lombardi says, strong mother-son relationships have mainly positive effects.” 
The Wall Street Journal

 “Stop Worrying About Raising A Mama’s Boy…. It sounds like a myth of yesteryear, but Kate Stone Lombardi, frequent New York Times contributor and author of  The Mama’s Boy Myth, says the hangover from generations of gender preconceptions affects us all, and that in many families and communities, mothers still find themselves urged to push their sons away at exactly the moments (like starting school and becoming a teenager) when our boys need us most — and that even when we don’t, we find it hard to talk about how close we are to our sons.”
The New York Times

 “Will a close mother-son relationship create another Norman Bates? Far from it, says Kate Stone Lombardi, author of The Mama’s Boy Myth …From the myth of Oedipus to the movie Psycho, narrative after narrative harps on the idea that mothers can damage their sons, make them weak, awkward and dependent. But for millions of men, the opposite has turned out to be true.”  
—NPR "All Things Considered"

 “It’s a relief to know that the mother-son connection gives boys a good start in life.”
The Toronto Globe and Mail

 “Moms are expected to help their sons develop a healthy masculine identity, not by holding them close, but by pushing their sons away. Award winning journalist Lombardi’s provocative new book, The Mama’s Boy Myth, reveals surprising research that doesn’t just contradict this theory – it blows it out of the water. Far from damaging their sons, mothers who have a nurturing, close relationship with their male children are imparting innumerable benefits at every stage of development.”
—SheKnows.com

“When she was raising her two children, Kate Stone Lombardi—a seasoned journalist for The New York Times—was taken aback by the assumptions of so many people around her, who said it was best to distance herself from her son to avoid him becoming a “mama’s boy.” But Lombardi’s parenting instincts went against all of the advice that she was hearing. Synthesizing years of research with hundreds of her own interviews with mothers, sons, fathers and experts, she presents a solid argument to those naysayers in her book, The Mama’s Boy Myth. Both the data and the personal anecdotes demonstrate that fostering a close mother-son relationship results in emotionally evolved, empathetic and successful men.”  
New York Press
 

About the Author

Kate Stone Lombardi has contributed to The New York Times for the last twenty years. Her work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, Parenting, Time.com and Ladies Home Journal. She has won six Clarion Awards for journalism from Women in Communications. A graduate of Williams College with an MS in journalism from Columbia University, Lombardi is the mother of two adult children and lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband, Michael.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Avery (March 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583334572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583334577
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,578,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am a child psychologist and mother and have found this book to be both informative and thought provoking. Mrs. Lombardi manages to offer a thorough examination of the research in this area while simultaneously telling a wonderful story. The Mama's Boy Myth offers a revolutionary look at the mother-son relationship and child development, more generally. She challenges stereotypically held gender beliefs and will get you reconsidering what you have always accepted to be true. I strongly recommend this book to colleagues, clients, and friends, alike! This is a great read!
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Format: Hardcover
even as the mother of daughters (and not sons), i found this book an engaging read about and important and compelling notion. there are sons all around us, and mothers of sons, and this book addresses the impact of the mother-son relationship not only on the immediate family but on society. it made me think about my relationship with my daughters, my mother's relationship with my brothers, my mother-in-law's relationship with my husband, and my daughters' possible future relationships with their sons. lombardi presents a breakthrough in how we think about parenting.
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Format: Hardcover
After having juggled (and dodged!) centuries of conflicting advice on how to raise strong silent sons, we come away from The Mama's Boy Myth heartened, inspired and actually optimistic about the futures of our sons (and the daughters who will share the world with them). Kate Lombardi presents a great deal of thoroughly-researched and carefully-examined material - ranging from Oedipus and Freud to very recent studies - with illuminating intelligence and clarity, but also with enveloping charm, warmth and wit. I'm left with the unfamiliar feeling that humanity may in fact be improving!
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Format: Hardcover
Finally, after all these long decades of Freud-induced anxiety about the mother-son relationship, comes the first step in a corrective written not for academics or psychologists but for the families who actually live out these vital, loving familial relationships. It feels as if we've leapt directly from the 19th century into the 21st century via Kate Lombardi's well-researched arguments and graceful prose.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fortunate enough to have a daughter and a son, I read this important book as both encouragement for a mother's instincts to unabashedly love our sons and a reminder of how important their mental and emotional health is to the family and the future of our world. Who wouldn't want their daughter to be in a relationship and perhaps marry the son of a loving mother and be raised by a father who never questioned his mother's love and support? One can only imagine how different the world might look if this had historically been the case across all countries and cultures. This book provides a well researched, well reasoned case for a more hopeful future based on the most fundamental of relationships free of harsh, unfounded, often damaging judgement and advances the cause of unconditional love as the most powerful force for humanity.
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I truly enjoyed this book. It was an engaging read, is well organized, has arguments convincingly presented, and appears well researched. From a feminist perspective, it is long overdue.

The premise is, as the book title suggests, that there is a societal bias against a mother's closeness with her son (as contrasted with a father/son or mother/daughter relationship), and that the alleged negative consequences of that closeness are either nonexistent, a result of some other cause, or not something we necessarily want to discourage. The author incorporates numerous examples from a variety of sources and demonstrates a good understanding of the history of psychological theory. Perspectives from interviews with mothers lend a personal, emotional touch to the text.

This book does not make the argument for feminism, rather, it assumes the reader's agreement with certain feminist principles, such as the equal importance of each parent in a child's life and equal opportunity for both genders (concepts our legal system now recognizes and attempts to protect, if not perfectly). A reader who views the feminist movement negatively will find very little to agree with in this book.

To me, the few negative reviews simply highlight the success of the book at driving home its points. Fortunately, the U.S. won't be returning to the days when the man was the legal master of his household and wife. Women are entering upper management and politics in increasing numbers, and it looks promising that legal discrimination against gays and lesbians will eventually end.
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Format: Hardcover
The Mama's Boy Myth by Kate Lombardi has a compelling premise however I found myself arguing with many points she made throughout the book. I felt her research was focussed almost exclusively on working mothers and felt she paid no attention nor did she choose to cite any studies to show whether or not boys of stay at home mothers thrived. If the premise is more time with mom happier boy it may have been an interesting chapter. She only cited a study from the sixties comparing parent time spent with children vs now which to me was silly. Apparently working mothers today spend more time with their kids than the stay at home mom from the sixties. Parenting in the sixties was not all what it is now. How much time did working mothers spend with their kids in the sixties? Compare how much time stay at home moms spend with their kids today. I felt Lombardi also contradicted herself at some points arguing that boys were not different from girls then writing an extremely long chapter where she continuously repeated herself about how many caring mothers, concerned about letting their boys express their emotions, distracted them by taking them for drives or playing a sport with them so they could be encouraged to talk while being distracted. If boys aren't different why would they need this? Her premise that mother-son relationships are frowned on is bang on as is her belief that boys are too often told to man up when they are upset and this is not good for them now or in the future. I just wish she had been a little more balanced in her research. She virtually dismissed fathers as being important role models and her ideal for a positive upbringing for a son, based on her data, seemed to be to be raised with a working mom and dad...or maybe no dad. I also found some of her interviews off putting.Read more ›
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