Why Are Sons So Protective Of Their Mothers? (Explained)


We know that most normal care that parents give their kids comes with affection, instruction, and a fairly high level of protection from outside threats. There is also a reciprocal action that can come from kids depending on their personality among other factors. This can be seen in how sons relate to their mothers.

Sons are protective of their mothers for good reason. As boys grow into men, they should see it as a man’s role to protect women. They should also be giving their mother the respect her role deserves. Protective sons are normal and natural. Not being protective could be a warning sign.

There will always be exceptions, but in general boys will be protective not only of their mothers, but of their sisters, girlfriends, and when they grow into adulthood their wives. This can also be seen in girls as well, but read on to find out why it is more common in sons than daughters.

The Strength Of The Mother-Son Protective Bond

For many sons, mothers can be the anchor that keeps them from going over the edge into unproductive thoughts and actions. In a healthy mother-son relationship, that protective nature that a son has for his mothers will also extend to what she thinks of his actions.

The protective bond that exists between mother and son not only goes both ways, but can be affected by the actions of each. The disposition of a mother while a boy is young can greatly affect how protective or dismissive a son is to his mother in later years.

What does this mean for sons and how they treat their mothers?

In a study done by researchers at Wayne State University and the University of Pittsburg, adolescent antisocial behavior and positive peer relationships can both be traced back to interactions with mothers.

In other words, how a mother relates to her son in the early years determines whether he will be a rule follower or a rule breaker.

Are Mothers Protective Of Their Sons?

All mothers have some level of protectiveness towards their children, even the neglectful ones will have it sporadically. Mothers have this for both girls and boys. Sons have a particular bond with mothers in many cases due to societal, genetic, and relational factors.

Mother bears are a common analogy when speaking of a mother’s protectiveness for their sons. If you watch any nature series long enough, you will see the sequence where a mother bear fights off an aggressive bigger male to keep her cubs safe.

Don’t mess with ‘Mama Bear’.

This goes especially for boys, who most mothers know will be expected to be tough and resilient by the world outside. They hold a special place in their hearts for sons because they see their fathers in their eyes or at least what they wish their fathers would be.

Mother-Son Relationship Evolution: The Protective Role Transference

From birth until adulthood and beyond, mamas are a huge influence on sons. This goes for things done in the past as well as in the present.

How are mothers and sons protective of each other over the years? Is there a gradual shift in roles as the boys grow into manhood? The answer is important for a healthy and productive man throughout his life.

If a boy is to be properly protective of his mother and care for her as their roles change, the work of both parents is crucial. Not only are mothers needed, but strong fathers are as well.

Infancy

Protection is at the center of nearly all interactions a mother has with her son in these early stages. The right clothes must be selected, the noise level just so, and the temperature set at a level that usually stifles most dads. But ‘the baby has to be warm’.

At this stage one might think that all of this is simply for the protection of the baby’s physical health, but it also is having a profound affect mentally. How a mother interacts with sons at this stage shows itself later as the boy grows.

In a study conducted at the University of Giessen, mothers were found to shape their son’s temperament by her level of attentiveness and protectiveness. At this stage it is maternal nurturing that helps shape the personality and temperament of boys.

Toddlers

At this point, the temperament of boys will usually be set and external factors in the environment begin to share in shaping their behavior and actions. This is the first steps in boys slightly distancing themselves from their mothers as they explore their environments and limitations.

Mobility creates a desire to do things for themselves. They pursue interests on their own though usually coming back to the security their mothers provide from time to time to reset, recharge, and yes, protection.

It is here that they also begin to notice how fathers treat their mothers. This is the beginning of them understanding the roles that fathers and mothers have and how they fit into the family dynamic.

For those without fathers in the home, this can tell a child more about how his father perceives his mother than words could relate. Make no mistake, a father’s absence is speaking volumes to sons about how to treat mothers and women in general.

Adolescence

The protective side of boys can begin to show itself in earnest at this stage. The transference is now beginning that will continue into adulthood. Boys begin to grow and take up for their mothers in many ways.

A sons protectiveness of his mother can be seen by simply watching boys play.

One of the number one tactics that young boys use to get the emotions of other boys to rise is to call up this protective nature every boy has for his mother.

Insulting a boys mother is the mainstay or go-to weapon used on playgrounds around the world.

‘Yo mama jokes’ and other insults immediately raise tempers and many scuffles ensue. These boys are defending their mother’s honor in their eyes, and it stems from how they were nurtured by their mothers and how they saw their fathers treat them.

Teenagers

Teenage years are a mix of emotions and confusion. One day a boy will want to be a boy and the next he will want to be a man. If they have been raise to see their mother as important, nurtured by them, and regulated to treat them with respect by their fathers, they will be an endless source of protective love for their mothers.

If some or all of these elements were missing in the younger years, disrespect, competitiveness, control issues, and more will add to these trying times in a boy’s life.

Teens that were not shown how to treat their mothers when they were toddlers or adolescents, will more than likely not have a clue how to be protective of them.

Many parents find that what teens are going through is a crisis of what role to play and what roles others should have. This is much easier when they allow mothers to be a support for them and protect their mother’s position as a guide and authority in their lives. When they are in constant conflict for control, misery can follow for everyone involved.

Adulthood

You can see now that how an adult son treats his mother is a reflection of the environment he was raised in. There are always exceptions, but for mothers that can rely on their sons as they get older, a nurturing childhood with proper understanding of a mother’s role is a common theme.

If by this point if a man protects the honor of women, gives respect where respect is due, and always remembers to ‘call his mama’, you probably won’t find a more protective ally in her life.

This is not a mama’s boy. This is a real man.

Why Are Sons Closer To Their Mothers Than Their Fathers?

When we think of how mothers relate to sons we usually aren’t picturing her with boxing gloves strapped on sparring with him in the basement. Dads and moms relate differently to their sons.

A mother’s nurturing nature produces the need to protect in a son whereas a fathers guidance can breed a bit of friction. A Father should inspire a son to be better, and a mother should support him along the way.

Fathers should also model a protective nature over their wives so that their sons can mimic what they see. Kids so often watch what you do much more than they listen to what you say. It is a father’s role to point to the mother and give her the place she deserves and encourage his son to follow.

Mothers are not necessarily loved more, they simply have a different role. Fathers should always foster that connection, even if it means they have to step back and watch from a distance at times. Mothers should be cherished and a father’s role is to ensure his son does just that.

Are sons closer to their mothers on some level? If a father is doing his job, probably.

The Importance Of Sons Being Protective Of Their Mothers

Sons learn to be men by learning their role first in their family before they ever learn what it means to be a productive member of society. They learn how to give place, take responsibility, love, and forgive. Mothers take abuse and get love during this process.

It is important that in this environment a boy learns to empathize and care about the needs of others. Pets, siblings, and friends all help develop this as they grow.

But there is one person that fosters this in a boy more than anything else:

Mama.

Protecting Their Mothers Teaches Boys To Be Men

Men are protectors by nature, no matter what ever changing, government funded studies try to claim. We know it, and no amount of gas lighting will change it. Protecting the women in their lives is part of being a man.

Raising boys to protect the women in their lives makes society better. They learn that their actions affect others even if they are able to get away with being destructive or out of line. There are those that count on them to ‘walk the line’ and those they care about make that responsibility real.

Protecting Mothers

Mothers are the first and primary focus of a son’s protective nature. He learns and will always cherish the position she holds in his life. He learns from an early age to protect the things that matter most. Mothers matter.

Protecting Sisters

If he is fortunate enough to have a sister, he then learns that other women in his life deserve similar respect and place. Even when he doesn’t feel like it, they are owed respect and protection. Sisters matter.

Protecting Wives

These other relationships then prepare a boy to become a man and take on the responsibilities of a family. His wife is now the main focus of his protective nature even if others in his family are kept close. He learned how to be protective from them and now his wife is included. Wives matter.

Protecting Daughters

Now comes the time to show a daughter what a man looks like that has claimed his role as protector. If he wants her to be happy and fulfilled like the women in his life, he will have to show her what to look for in a man. Still giving deference to his wife, he guilds and steps aside when necessary, because daughters matter.

Respect For Authority And Human Dignity

This fostering of the protective nature in boys is not only good for the family, it is essential for a peaceful society. The vast majority of crimes and especially violent crimes are committed by males. With this in mind, it is even more important to teach boys to respect and protect rather than exploit and harm.

The first person that they come to know and care about is their mother. This person then becomes more and more vulnerable as he grows and she gets older. There is not a better goal to help our societies problems than to teach boys how to be better. This starts with mama.

According to crime statistics published by the FBI, males are exponentially more likely to commit crimes across the board. Arguments can be had infinitely about boys and girls are similar in their dispositions and abilities, but the numbers don’t lie.

Males are more aggressive and if that is not curbed and channeled early on, other innocent people in society pay the price. All data in the table below is from 2012 numbers and have only grown in recent years. The data is from FBI records.

Types of CrimesPercentage:
Males Offenders
Percentage:
Females Offenders
Total Crimes73.8%26.2%
Murder88.7%11.3%
Robbery87%13%
Possession of a Deadly Weapon91.7%8.3%
Agrivated Assault77.1%22.9%
Rape99.1%0.9%
Burglary83.6%16.4%
Violent Crime80.1%19.9%
Arson82.0%18.0%

If sons aren’t taught and expected to protect and cherish their mothers, this is only going to get worse. These men do not value or uphold the sanctity of human dignity. They learn this first with their mothers.

Should we expect sons to protect their mothers? Absolutely. It begins at home and people matter.

When The Mother-Son Bond Goes Wrong

There are many issues that can arise and there are some extremes that you never want to search up on Google or YouTube. You may be scarred by what you see for the rest of your days.

There is no denying that mistakes are made and that there is evil in the world. There are some that don’t know how to raise boys and then there are those that need to be hunted down and locked away for abusing the very ones they should have protected the most.

For those that are well meaning, but simply make mistakes, there are some pitfalls that can sour the mother son relationship and turn an otherwise good person against protecting their mother.

When Son’s Are Neglectful Or Abusive

We cannot negate the fact that sons have free will and can choose the complete opposite thing that their upbringing calls for. This happens all the time. Yet, it usually is only on occasion and if the average of all choices are taken, boys usually follow the vein of how they were raised.

If sons see their fathers mistreat their mothers, it can scew how they see their relationships with women in general. Not only will they sometimes lose respect for their fathers, but also their mothers. This then bleeds over into other relationships in their lives.

Permissive parenting can also produce a son that resents his parents. All children want and need boundaries to feel loved and important enough to spend energy on. When there are loose or even no boundaries, they can feel abandoned and resent those that should be their main support. This can lead to sons being disrespectful, dismissive, or even abusive to their mothers.

Can A Son’s Protectiveness Of His Mother Become Obsessive?

There are extreme cases of protectiveness as well. Sons can become obsessed with their mothers in younger ages all the way into adulthood. Control is sometimes a hidden culprit that becomes normalized as time goes on.

Controlling mothers are a problem, but as they grow it can be adopted by sons and they can turn the tables on their mother and begin to micro-manage their lives in turn. Sometimes this manifests in seemingly normal relationships as well due to perceived weakness or failures to uphold roles.

We have all heard of the Oedipus complex, but that is more of a psychological problem coming from an illness or abuse. This is outside of normal consequences of interaction between parents and boys.

Barring illness and abuse, usually the manifestation of control issues are abusive language, neglect, and disrespect.

The Sons Protecting Mothers Takeaway…

What we have gone over here is an exploration of why sons are and why they should be protective of their mothers. It is a natural and normal part of growing into manhood.

We looked at the mother son relationship and how the protectiveness begins with mothers towards their sons. As they grow, boys learn this from their mothers and fathers and begin to display protectiveness toward their mothers.

Later they mimic their fathers, expand their protective natures to other women in their lives, and learn the value of humanity in general from it. This makes this the protectiveness of sons an important part of society.

The effects of not fostering this protective nature can be readily seen in crime statistics and violence in the general society. This reiterates the idea that respect and character start in the home and affect all of society.

So, why are sons so protective of their mothers?

It is one of the cornerstones of a peaceful and equitable society.

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a Catholic mother of four, grandmother ("Oma") to two, and wife to Mat since 1994. She is a former public school teacher of 18 years, licensed in 3 states and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. In addition, she also taught education courses online as an adjunct professor, mentored numerous education interns, hosted professional development for educators, and tutored, as well as homeschooled.

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