Bart’s dad was an angry person. As a child, Bart had to endure three to four beatings a week. Sometimes a beating would even be given over something frivolous like the Dallas Cowboys losing. Eventually, the beatings stopped and were replaced with apathy, which to Bart was even more painful than the physical pain he bore in his earlier years. Gradually, the two stopped talking altogether. Things didn’t change until his father got cancer. His father had a faith conversion and began to change. As his physical health deteriorated, his faith and love grew stronger. He began to pursue Bart and love him in the way Bart always desired.
It took a long time for Bart’s dad to win back his son after all he had done. After his dad passed away, Bart went on to write the song “I Can Only Imagine”, which became a number one hit around the world. The story behind the song is all about Bart and his relationship with his father. It is beautifully told in the movie I Can Only Imagine, which is available to buy now. Although most parents don’t subject their sons to abuse, there are common things we do that push our sons away. If we want great relationships with our sons, we want to avoid these things that hurt the mother-son relationship. Here are 5 things moms do that push their sons away.
1. Being Overbearing
We just want to love our sons, but too often we end up being overbearing. They need the freedom to explore, take risks, and experience adventure though more often than not those things involve pain. It’s hard to watch them go through that so we do whatever we can to protect them and give them comfort, even when it’s the last thing they want. We need to be available when they come to us for it, but we need to give them room to grow through their pain and failure. That means being needed less.
Result: The son feels smothered.
2. Expect the Son to be Better
We all want our sons to do better in life than we did. Sometimes I think we forget that we had to learn some life lessons through pain and trial. We can start to expect our sons to know the lessons already when it took us years to learn them. Those expectations are unfair and put pressure on him that will cause him to retreat. As my mom has said, “They just got here.” Our sons haven’t been on earth long and because they have our DNA they are prone to the same mistakes and growing pains as us. Be patient with him.
Result: The son feels pressure.
3. Being Overly Critical
Since we want our sons to do better than we did and avoid our mistakes, it can lead to us also being overly critical. We look for opportunities where we can coach our sons up and offer advice. However, many times it just ends up making our sons feel like they aren’t good enough. Even compliments can be accompanied by a criticism, “You made a great play out there at second. Now you just need to work on your hitting.” It’s important to evaluate how many of your compliments also include an ‘opportunity for growth.’
Result: The son never feels like he’s good enough.
4. Living through the Son’s Achievements
I’ll be the first to admit—I love watching my son win games. It’s an exciting and fun feeling. That feeling can get addicting and the desire to experience more can become emotional. All of a sudden you can get mad when it doesn’t happen. If our emotions are regulated by our son’s achievements or that of his teams then we need to pull the reigns back. It’s fine to enjoy the wins or to feel bummed with them during losses, but we need to remember it’s about them not us. As moms, we need to be a source of encouragement, not one of pressure.
Result: The son feels like the mom’s love is based on his performance.
5. Unresolved Pain and Anger
Whatever is true of us below the surface will eventually work its way out. Unresolved wounds have a way of coming out in distorted thinking, insecurity, fits of anger, and in many cases, abuse. The mom creates an environment of fear and instability. The mom is viewed as someone who is unsafe.
Result: The son lives anxious and afraid of the mom or the instability she causes.
Tell us! What do you do that causes your son to want to spend time with you?