At Age 23, I Still Talk To My Mother At Least 3 Times A Day—Science Says That’s Totally OK

Photo by Klaus Vedfelt
I’m a 23-year-old and I still talk to my mom at least three times a day (maybe four if she’s lucky). And you know what? According to Dr. Dale Atkins, that’s totally fine.

I am considered an adult. In the eyes of the law, I’ve been that way for about six years. 

Even though I’ve left home, have myself a big girl job with benefits and can manage to cook a meal a few times a week without burning the house down, I wouldn’t consider myself “grown.”

Mostly because that word implies that I have it all figured it out, which couldn’t be further from the truth. 

You really want to know the main reason I don’t describe myself as grown?

I’m a 23-year-old and I still talk to my mom at least three times a day (maybe four if she’s lucky). And you know what? According to Dr. Dale Atkins, that’s totally fine.

The psychologist and relationship expert told Man Repeller that talking to mom multiple times a day is normal. Here are five reasons why, with commentary from Dr. Atkins. 

1. Moms reassurance is like none other.

No one wants to feel angry, happy, sad or excited all by their lonesome. When it comes to having a shared emotional experience, there is no better person to confide in than your mother.

“Adults call their moms, or their parents, because when we feel either end of the emotional spectrum, when we’re really happy or really sad or really scared — the extremes — we want to feel that we are not alone, and we want to share the experience. A parent once said to me years ago that a shared joy is twice the joy and a shared sorrow is half the sorrow.”

2. Moms are really superheroes.

When I used to fall off my bike and scrape my knee, I would cry crocodile tears and my dad would run to scoop me up and cradle me to his chest. It was nice for a while, but when I wanted someone to kiss my boo boo and put on my Minnie Mouse band-aid, it was my mom I ran to. When we’re feeling vulnerable, moms are the key to reassuring our qualms and fears. 

“When we call our mothers, it’s because we assume they are strong and can hold us. We want to be embraced by them, get our boo boo kissed and be told that it’s all going to be okay. That’s why we go to them, regardless of age. If you’re lucky enough to have your mother during your entire life span, when things change and you’re the one taking care of her, you will likely still want her to put her arms around you and say that it’s going to be okay.”

3. Moms are sometimes mean and it’s a disheartening dose of reality. 

I’ll never forget the first time my mom made me cry based on an emotional response to something I was going through. She flat-out told me something I did not want to hear and I was thrown for a whole loop. For most of my life up until then, we pretty much agreed on everything (except for that emotional teenage stuff). At the time, her reaction felt like a low blow, but in hindsight it was the kick in the pants I definitely needed. 

“Now, sometimes a woman will call her mother and get the wrong response. That’s when she’ll call her best friend or sister and say ‘you’re not going to believe what my mom said.’ We call our mothers to get what we hope we can get; We call for empathy, non-judgment and comfort. Sometimes they give us what they want to give us.”

4. Moms love is good for our emotional health. 

When I call my mom and she doesn’t answer the phone, two things usually run through my mind: “Who else could you ever be talking to that you couldn’t answer *my* call—I am your only child” or “Uh oh, I hope everything is OK. Did she tell me she was going somewhere or doing something and I just forgot?” These are two ends of the emotional spectrum of a parent-child relationship. The minute I hear her voice, however, I feel a calm like nothing else. 

“Stress hormones such as cortisol are released in our brain when we are feeling fear or overwhelmed or defeated; Endorphins, the feel good hormones (whose main function is to inhibit the transmission of pain) are released when we receive comfort and empathy from our parent or friend. We feel soothed.  And with parents (we hope that) they understand us best. They have the historical arc of our lives and can say things like, ‘You got through that situation when you were younger; you’re strong.' This historical perspective helps us feel known and understood.”

5. Mommy and me relationships are incomparable. 

My dad and I are close enough—we talk a few times a week mostly through a trade of text messages to check in, talk football on Sundays, or to make a spoiled request that he drop $20 in my account for something basic—and I’m OK with that. With my mom, on the other hand, one of those daily three phone calls we have is merely for the purpose of hearing her voice. One day, I know I’ll call and she won’t be around to answer and I am not in a place to mentally grasp that happening anytime soon. You got that, God?

“This is why it’s so devastating when a parent passes away. That one unconditionally loving person is no longer there. It’s unlike any other relationship. When mothers pass away, you’ll often find their children say ‘I wish my mother were here’ for monumental events. That’s a primal, essential connection that we feel.”

*Just so you know, by the time you made it to the end of this article, I’ve already called my mom twice. The first time was to ask her if she liked a pair of shoes I want to order. The second was to tell her that I love her.*

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Filed under: Lifestyle