The overprotective, meddlesome mother-in-law is an age old character in real life and in fiction. Most recently, as a result of reality TV, the character has become a caricature in the most extreme form (Momma Dee we see you). It got me to thinking about my own family, these issues and why any man would let this continue.
As a guy who loves and respects his mother deeply, I completely understand and appreciate the bond between a mother and a son. However, one thing is clear, in my relationship with my mother: I am a man, which means that I make my own decisions and run my own life. Particularly, when it comes to dating, my mother stays out of my business, is respectful of my choices (whether she agrees with them or not) and respects anyone who I introduce. If I solicit advice, she gives it, but only then. That’s the way it should be.
If, however, my mother were like some other women in my family the burden of creating boundaries for her would be on me. I would never put my partner in the position that Scrappy, from Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, puts Erica in or that I’ve seen men in my family put their wives in as a result of their overbearing mothers. Quite frankly, I don’t understand why any woman would tolerate her man letting anyone disrespect her – his mother or otherwise.
The real issue is that the mother does not fully want to let her son grow up and stand on his own, which in of itself is a major problem. No mother should think she is the queen of her adult son’s castle. It may not go as far as Freud’s Oedipus Complex, but it sure doesn’t seem appropriate to me. And, why any mother (or son) would want that anyway is baffling to me.
I also think it is a major character flaw when a man can’t stand up to his mother on behalf of his wife or partner. He doesn’t have to be disrespectful, but he should make it clear that his woman is the number one woman in his life and that his mother needs to understand her place. If she does her job when she is supposed to, then he will make choices based on his upbringing, and she should trust the work she did when he was a child. Trying to run his adult life, especially his love life (whether she likes his choice in women or not) doesn’t serve anyone well.
The excuse “that’s my momma,” is not a good one. Right, it’s your mother, and it’s on you to make sure she doesn’t cross the line. If you’re feeling disrespected by your man’s mother, it’s not on you to manage the situation, but on him. Is it time for your man to check his momma?
Wishing you LOVE & CEASLESS JOY!
Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.