Crazy Mommy, Invisible Daddy
This phenomenon runs rampant among men.
The American family unit has disintegrated. Marriages fail half the time, and in the other half you probably have a large percentage that is dysfunctional. Tons of single moms raising boys on their own. Tons of boys who have no clue how to be men, so they take their cues from TV and movies.
This is a set-up for badness when it comes to passing down manhood to one’s son. As a result, we have decades of boys being raised by crazy moms, and by dads who aren’t there.
This is the guy who was supposed to be there telling you to go approach that two-set. The guy correcting your tonality and body language. The guy telling you to hit the gym 3 days a week and to start dressing in more stylish clothes because hot girls care about this stuff. Instead, he wasn’t there, and so now here you are a grown adult trying to get this knowledge.
Where was daddy?
Maybe he bailed out of his relationship with mom. Maybe she booted him out. Maybe he was physically there, but not present emotionally or in spirit. Maybe he meant well but never really stepped up as a man to show you how it was done, because maybe he himself had no clue. Maybe he was drunk all the time or out chasing skirts or at the office obsessively working.
And so, you had a father who essentially was not there. Cobain summed it up well (as usual) in “Serve the Servants”:
“I tried hard to have a father but instead I had a dad.”
So when you don’t have a real male role model to guide you, you turn to the next option, your mom.
Invisible dad may be around, but he doesn’t wear the pants. That role goes to mom. Mommy is stepping up and trying to raise her son the best she can. When dad fucks up, there’s mom assuming the masculine role putting dad in his submissive place. How’s that for fucked up?
Dad tries to assert himself, then mom tests him as is her nature, and then dad buckles, and then mom is disappointed and forced to be the dad.
So you learn how to be a man from mom. And women, as we all know, are not generally very good at being men. They like to test their men, but at the end of the day, they would prefer relaxing into their femininity and letting the man step up and do his job.
Over time, mommy does what she can to raise us. She gives us information about life and love. The problem is, it’s largely wrong. We don’t realize it at the time, and hence we deeply internalize this advice. We take it to the extreme and cling to it for decades, permitting it to shape our world view.
When I was a kid, I often heard, “Never talk to strangers.” As an adult, I held onto that warning, and never talked to strangers. Nevermind that the advice was meant to prevent kidnapping, and didn’t mean I shouldn’t talk to a girl sitting next to me. I had to force that pattern out of my head, and give myself permission to talk to strangers. Sounds ridiculous, but this is the kind of bullshit advice that has stuck with tons of dudes all their lives, much of it implanted by mom.
Another one I got was, “You’re gonna be 8 this year! When are you gonna start acting like it?!” As if a seven-year-old needs that kind of pressure to grow up. What did I know? So I thought, “Ok, I guess my childhood is over…better start acting serious.”
Realize that mommy didn’t mean to be crazy. She was doing what she could and had to do, and since daddy wasn’t present to counter her nutty advice, we had no choice but to believe it.
This came from a place of love, not indignation or ill-will. She wanted to protect you, and she did it by imposing her weird, misdirected beliefs on you.
And so, recognizing what mommy was up against, and trying to do the right thing, as adults we need to forgive her. Like truly deep down appreciate all her stupid advice, and stop blaming her for the way we turned out. Starting right now.
About Dr. Evan Marlowe Evan Marlow is the dean and founder of Man School. You can visit at Manschool.cc