“Undoubtedly mothers have always tried to keep their sons in the nest, and some sons have always had difficulty in getting free and have rather preferred to continue to enjoy the pleasures of the nest.”
–Marie-Louise von Franz
Nothing his partner does is ever right for him;-“Too much salt in the food, no sugar in the drink, why is the house uncleaned? My mother does it better!” No woman or job is ever right for him. She is a good woman but….well she’s not quite the ‘wife material’. It’s a good job but….it’s not really what I wanted.”
He would not say it, at least not expressively, but he would not commit to shouldering any responsibility by convincing himself it is not right for him. “This is too big for me. Let me just give myself time to grow. My time shall come.” And that is the last he ever revisits the idea. He would venture into creating something he believes to be in line with his goals and dreams but walk away the moment he gets hit with the reality that he has to create some sort of plan or routine to follow. “I’m not following a routine, it’s basically a prison.”
He would wear a cloak of a superior individual, having his own principles that he makes sure, one way or the other, are known to the persons he interacts with. But deep down, he is battling his insecurities revolving around his inferiority complex because he knows the truth that his life is really of no value.
From the cradle he has been flying under the wings of his angel mother and does so even in his adulthood. He struggles to find his place in life and lets out the frustration that comes with that on the innocent people in his life.
He has been overfed with love from the mother that even love from others is not love. It is never enough. It has to be this way and if he gets it that way, he later believes it is the other way.
Perhaps a father figure was absent in his life; both physically and or emotionally. And, to compensate for the father’s absence, the mother becomes too involved in his life. He has no time to figure stuff out on his own because everything is placed right on his lap, ready for his consumption.
Worse yet, if he has a sister or two, that sister is get told to do everything for him. Set the table for him, serve him food, make sure he has eaten and he will have the guts to complain about the food being tasteless, or that one strand of hair in the soup.
To use the much more precise words of Carl Jung;-
“He hopes to be caught, sucked in, enveloped, and devoured. He seeks, as it were, the protecting, nourishing, charmed circle of the mother, the condition of the infant released from every care, in which the outside world bends over him and even forces happiness upon him. No wonder the real world vanishes from sight!”
I believe I have just described what most of us call a “childish adult”. To use a more appropriate term, a “man-child.”
The Mother Believes She is Doing it out of Love:
She would not let him stay out and play with other kids because he might get hurt. “Finish your chocolate first, before you go out! The other kids will want it for themselves!” She gets unsettled whenever he cries, even if the cry is for no reason. Anyone who makes her son cry will feel her wrath.
The boy is never at fault. You are! It will always be someone else and not her son. “My son is innocent! Your son is the one at fault!” She shouts at the neighbour and his son as she goes down on her knees to wipe off her son’s tears and asks him whether he is okay.
The ‘egg treatment’ continues for years and the son is now expecting it. The mother cannot afford to stop such pampering even if she happens to realize she’s made a mistake raising her son like that. It has become too hard to stop. Because, “What if he gets angry or sad?” She just cannot imagine such a scenario!
The boy is growing up, into the adolescent stage. There is that sacrificial element that comes with this stage -all of us have to drop a huge part of our childishness and embrace maturity. Escape from childhood is needed if the boy is to be able to take care of himself in a world whose thriving heavily relies on self-dependence.
The mother does not want to let go of her son. She becomes obsessed now. Interfering with her sons life and privacy (something every teenager values even if they say the do not). With Puberty comes mood swings, anger, some feeling of being lost, and a lot of questions that we have to individually wonder through. The mother ignores this and is always about the son’s business.
Of course it is easier for the boy to ignore the harsh road of self-realization and choose his mother’s spoiling. And, more often than not, that is exactly what he does- The mother is spoiling him, and he takes advantage of that. As Jung continued to say, “You behold the secret conspiracy between mother and son, and how each helps the other to betray life.”
Before they both know it, the son is all grown up and wanting to actually start his own life but is scared to do so because well as Marie-Louise puts it:
“There is a terrific fear of being pinned down, of entering space and time completely, and of being the singular human being that one is. There is always the fear of being caught in a situation from which it may be impossible to slip out again.”
It is only a matter of time before he starts shouting back and talking back to his own mother( perhaps a consequence of the blame he subconsciously places on her for having raised her the wrong way). We witness such classic examples of grown men shouting at their mothers and we wonder what really is up.
Maybe he manages to get married and the wife gets to suffer because well, you guessed it, she doesn’t replace her mother. He expects for the wife to be everything his mother was and that being an impossible thing he always “longs for the maternal woman who will enfold him in her arms and satisfy his every need.”
He has a really hard time settling down because the sense of entitlement is so deeply rooted in his way of living that others cannot tolerate his being. Insecurities galore, and maybe a hard time venturing and trying new things -the typical signs of a man-child.
The mothers should love their sons but allow them that window to realize and create things on their own. It is inevitable that they will make mistakes as every human being usually does. It is okay. It is a part of learning. They should teach them how to look after themselves instead of teaching them how to be looked after.Remind them every once in a while that the world does not revolve around them and how it is not always about them.