We've all heard the stories about millennials being so close with family they take their moms with them on job interviews. My immediate reaction was that we are witnessing a generation of mama's boys and girls. Yes, I said girls. Woman can suffer from the same overinvolved, enmeshed relationships with their mothers that guys do.
Mama's boy has a pejorative ring, like Don Juan or gold digger, for good reason. I've said, in these pages, If you want a baby to take care of, then have a baby, don't marry one. As we approach Mother's Day, consider that your mother might prefer a grown up son…or daughter.
Typically, sometime during or after adolescence, you psychologically separate from your parents. You become a unique individual with your own set of ideas, beliefs and morals. You establish adult relationships with your parents. If you didn't have secrets before, you definitely have them now.
Mama's boys and girls do not manage the separation and individuation well. They remain attached in ways that can suffocate new relationships. Sometimes the problem behaviors are couched in religious, ethnic or regional cloaks, like, you must always respect your parents, or, your elders are always right.
Being a millennial is not a criterion for being a mama's boy or girl--you can be any age. There are obvious red flags, like living with your mom after age 25 or so, having her take your suits to the cleaner or relentlessly comparing partners to your mother. Here are some of the other ways you can spot the mama's boy or girl in you or your partner:
• Asks mother about everything. A particularly irksome aspect of this is checking in with your mother before discussing something with your partner. Is your mother's opinion is more important than your partner's? Does everything need your mother's seal of approval? Talking or texting endlessly with your mother is another clue. Pouring salt in the wound of too much talk is sidling off for more private conversations. This really stings and smacks of keeping secrets from your partner.
• Crosses boundaries. Telling your mother things most would consider private, like information about your sex life, is a not okay, unless you and your partner agree. Some couples like to keep financial and other information private. These are things to negotiate with your partner, not your mother.
• Expects to be catered to. You're watching TV together and you ask for a glass of water. Your partner says they're too comfy and would rather you get it yourself, to which you reply, My mama never minds getting up to get me a glass of water. You partner probably wants to scream, I'M NOT YOUR MAMA! Not only are you guilty of comparing, but you're missing the fact that grownups do things for themselves.