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Eyes of a Hawk – Strong Mothers, Strong Sons

By Meg Meeker, M.D.

Before mothers can protect, or even become over-protective, they must employ each of their sensibilities in order to engage the protective action. Before they know how to keep their sons safe, each must identify the enemy. Something somewhere threatens his boyhood every day and because mothers are instinctively protective, they watch and listen for threats to their sons. When mothers respond to these threats—which today are often electronic—they attack.

In our sophisticated, electronics-saturated, post-modern culture, the threats to a boy’s health are insidious and terribly elusive. So good mothers keep their eyes wide open and their ears alert. Then their sons attack them for doing so. Usually this comes in the (manipulative) form of “you just don’t trust me.” But don’t be put off. Just as they don’t want to talk about their feelings but still want you to be interested in them, boys can’t say that they like restrictions; but they do, because that means their parents care. And deep down, it feels good to be watched. Again, like communicating their feelings, even though being watched feels good boys still reject it. This is another push and pull dynamic in a son’s relationship with his mother: do it, but don’t let me know you’re doing it.

Sadly, however, often when mothers hear their sons admonish them about a “trust” issue, they abdicate their better senses. Well, they reason, I guess you’re right. You’re a good kid. I should trust you. And their eyes turn away and their ears go deaf to make the young boy feel more grown-up. Big mistake.

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Mom or Dad, Are You a Yeller? Better Bite that Tongue!

By Meg Meeker, M.D.

Kids who are yelled at by their parents are more likely to have depression and behavior problems, a new study in Child Development finds. This is no surprise, so why do a study?  I think we need studies like this so that academics can remind us parents to take our jobs seriously. I know that I do.

Words cut deeply—particularly the words that flow from a parent’s mouth to a child—whether that child is 6 or 66.

We listen to what our parents say to us because this is how we figure out who we are. We are wired this way from birth. As young children we scour our parents’ faces to figure out if they like what we are wearing, if they think the picture we colored is good enough, or if they like how fast we run on the soccer field. If they communicate that they like what they see, then we believe we are good. If they never pay attention to or berate us, then we believe we are no good. That’s how simple life is for a child. Even as adults, we never stop listening to our parents, because we are connected to them by a need-based love.

So when a parent screams at a child, the pain cuts deeply. Some parenting experts say that kids don’t hear parents scream because they tune them out. I completely disagree. Kids hear alright; they just pretend not to hear because they simply don’t know what to do with the hurt.

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