Mothers undoubtedly make tremendous contributions to their sons’ mental, emotional, and social development. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find an adult son who doesn’t love and appreciate his mother immensely for it. But a boy’s successful development requires the substantial, positive, masculine influence of a father or male mentor. For only a man can teach a boy how to be a man. Dr. Frank Pittman, a psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of men, says this:
‘A mother may give her son booming self-esteem, may imbue him with a wonderful sense of his specialness, but she can’t have expertise on what he as a man is to do with the masculine specialness. Mothers, no matter how wise and wonderful, can only point boys in certain directions, but boys need fathers to show them how far they should go’It’s hard to imagine how we can raise a better generation of sons until we have a better generation of fathers.’
Many people think a father’s weak or missing influence in the life of a growing son can be compensated for by feminine influence. Ultimately, this isn’t the case. Growing up as a male with a female as primary mentor can lead to at least some degree of role confusion. When a young boy’s self-concept isn’t shaped by the man in his life, he’s bound to have trouble understanding his own masculinity in a healthy way, and be anxious and frustrated as a result.