As a mother of two sons, now in their 20's, I have some insights to share with you about that 'my son hates me' thing!
It may be that you've been caught up for years in the all consuming gloop of confusion and pain - wondering what the hell happened to your formerly loving and playful relationship with your darling, sweet natured son. It may be that you're still deep into the beating yourself over the shoulder with your self-flagellation weapon of choice because you feel you must have been an abject failure at the one job in life that you consistently gave your all to; that you worked so damned hard at, no matter what else life threw in your path along the way?
I want to say to you .. STOP THAT, right this red hot minute! Because you did just great.
You may want to yell at me 'You, dear lady, haven't a chuffin clue what you're talking about. DOCTOR? Someone get her a Doctor. She's barking that one ..!'
And my reply - listen up Mrs!
That weird metamorphosis that seemed to come flying out of left field may have literally felt like it ripped the rug out from under us .. just when we'd got so used to happily pootling along enjoying the life and mother/son relationship affirming thing so much we hardly gave it a second thought, except to notice from time to time how comfortable it felt - how we were loving the way our connection was deepening as he became more adult in his perceptions, articulation, personality and vocabulary .. or so we'd believed!
And then BAM! Almost overnight, "Grunt' arrived. Like someone snook into the family home in the wee small hours and kidnapped that beautifully evolving being only to replace him with Captain Caveman with the stealth and audacity of The Artful Dodger! And we never even heard a thing! 😳
Nobody told you that this strange thing that happened between you happens between many a mother and son!
You weren't prepared for it.
Not even your own mother told you (if you have brothers) and this may well have been because she was blindsided by it herself and didn't like to 'talk about that' and maybe like yourself, had been overcome with feelings of failure, hurt and confusion .. maybe even a sense of shame.
Maybe she never really came to understand what happened. Maybe she is still grappling with the fallout of not having managed it well herself, and is thus still struggling to repair the breech that ensued because of that! Maybe she tried to hang onto the old relationship that wanted - needed actually, to evolve - so tightly that it stifled the growth that was calling for space for expression; created resentments, misunderstandings, judgments, bitter words and hurt feelings that are still unresolved today?
Maybe this was your experience too?
And yet, all you did was .. well .. everything you could muster to love, protect and give your son (especially if you had to raise him alone) the best possible start in life so he wouldn't feel he missed out on anything.
Maybe his reaching for independence spirit suffered suffocation by kindness?
Maybe he needed your blessing to loosen the 'apron strings' - so that he could learn to fly on his own - under his own power?
Maybe he needed you to be ok with that - to see that you were ok with letting him go - and to know that you wouldn't fall apart for the devastating sense of loss a mother feels when she recognises at some primal level that something new is being called forth from her through his changing needs; to see that you would be at peace with the fact that things are ready to change and be reassured that you could accept, endure and hold yourself up through this process; to see you understanding that the relationship MUST be allowed to evolve - free from guilt when he already feels the pain of this necessary 'separation' deep in his own soul so that he can fully grow up and step into his manhood; to see you acknowledge that a big part of his rite of passage was to untie those bonds himself when they have held him so safe until this very moment and recognise that this was difficult (as well as exhilarating) for him too?
Maybe he needed space to experience his own struggle with this painful transition without the extra loading of responsibility for your pain at this forever change; to be able to feel the stability of your fortitude and conviction that he'd return to you in a new way - a man now - fully able to reconnect on a new more equal basis where he could love his mother for all that she did to enable and empower him to define himself in whatever ways he wanted to?
Maybe he needed you to trust him to be able to do it his own way - to f*** up; to feel the pain of disappointments, loss, failure; to test himself - be afraid and live to tell the tale; to develop resilience; to learn that pain doesn't equal the end of everything? Maybe he needed you to accept him and his choices and be ok with the man he needed to mould himself into? Maybe he needed you to step back and 'allow' him his process, to work through at his own pace? Maybe he needed you to ebb and flow as he ebbs and flows - neither judging, approving nor disapproving, but just accepting him from moment to moment with a truly unconditional love?
Maybe all he needed was to unravel the humongously strong bonds of mother/son back then so that he could be freed to form strong romantic bonds with other women as he found his own stride?
You see, it's kinda like labour. You know, when the wisdom of creation takes over and we have no choice but to get outa the way because there is no other option?
A great struggle we humans have, being human, is that we like to control things .. and sometimes, in the great processes of life, we just can't. This metamorphosis is kinda like that! Nature just takes over! It's been my experience that our sons are as confused (and hurt) by it as we are as their mothers. It marks a transition, and transitions are often painful! When we like things all cozy and predictable, transitions come along and kick us in the arse! And .. they're BIG, often, like death, breakdowns (or breakthroughs!), menopause - that kinda big! And .. we're never all that 'ready' yet, even when we know they're coming at some point. And yet .. happen they must! Ready or not!
The important thing to come into relationship with .. is that this was all perfectly NORMAL!
In fact, in many crazy sounding ways, you might be able to liken it to having been given a badge of honour to pin onto your chest - because when you think about it (any of us actually, and not just our sons) continually tries out our worst behaviours - tests the boundaries to see how far we want to go (grow!) in any relationship as we are individually called to, if you like - with the people we feel most safe around! So you, my dear, were the proverbial port in the storm of your son's evolution.
For instance, we're less likely to go punch our bank manager in the beak (though many times we may want to when we recognise the thinly veiled extortion masked by their Mr/Mrs NiceGuy!) than we are to metaphorically clip round the ear a disrespectful and objectionable teen who leaves his cesspit of a room once a week to throw a disgusted grunt our way about how we don't meet his expectations as a 'proper Mum' because, of his 49 pairs, he has no clean gruds left and we haven't even magically done what a mother is supposed to do by now and retrieved / sanitized his putrid smelling laundry (without setting foot in his private domain, mind) because, like, WTF do we even DO all day?
And .. what if we had been so eaten up with fear about our own perceived inadequacies mingled up with feelings of guilt for our 'failure' as a mother when faced with the vitriol of the 'I hate you's' back then had tricked us into believing we would lose our son for good if we said 'No'? What if we'd become so traumatised that we hadn't been able to keep a clear focus on the need for 'firm love' and strong boundaries - at a time when these were needed then more than ever?
What if we handed in our self-respect in our desperation to be lovable to our precious boy again; to not to be seen so disdainfully; to not 'prove' our angry, forceful and confused son right about our uselessness / selfishness / pathetic'ness? What if we caved in just as he was beginning to really test the boundaries because the force of his aggression had become intimidating? What if new Terms & Conditions of relationship had become all about trying to remain in his favour?
What if we ourselves had lost confidence - in our emotionally depleted state - so much that we'd become a shadow of the person (and mother) we had once been? What if our son had needed - if not exactly wanted - us to meet him with calm authority so he could bounce around against us and yet know that though we may yield more, in an age (and behaviour!) appropriate way, but had instead found that all he needed to do was act out to successfully manipulate us into giving in to his every unreasonable demand - with the net result that all respect had been lost? What if we too had become so full of resentment under this strain that, coupled with the angst of an angry boy who had become so mixed up with his chaotic emotions that we'd all slipped into dysfunction - no adult present to keep relationships open and able to successfully navigate to calmer waters of growing maturity?
So what if the mother/son relationship has struggled to recover from a non-aware handling of this all important separation? What if there is unresolved pain and/or a great chasm of unspoken frustration and misunderstanding keeping you apart? What if there had been a kind of confused and difficult Terms & Conditions of relationship that grew uncomfortably out of the strain - one where nothing much was clear to anyone any more? What if each party spilled over the comfortable but relatively unexplored lines that criss-crossed the damaged foundations of what had once seemed relatively straight-forward?
One of the most important foundations for a strong relationship is for it to be properly boundaried. Until this happens, nobody is clear what the other needs and wants to feel loved, seen, heard, validated, valuable, appreciated and respected.
Good, strong boundaries are the very basis of stable relationships but we are seldom taught about what they mean; how to identify where they are needed; how to set, communicate and uphold them - and how to do it all in a loving, respectful and non-threatening way whilst inviting the same level of clarity in the other.
What if reconnection could come about with new awarenesses, and new more honest discussion, forgiveness, temperance, openness, responsibiity, humility and kindness? What if you could prepare for that ahead of the time so that you have diffused any unexploded landmines and dealt with your own end of things in readiness for a new, deeper and more authentic connection with your son?
POWERFUL PERSONAL BOUNDARIES
Boundaries are the language of the future!
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