Strong Mothers, Strong Sons: Lessons Mothers Need to Raise Extraordinary Men [NOOK Book]


Meg Meeker, M.D., acclaimed author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, now turns to an equally powerful relationship in the family: the one between mother and son.
From the moment a mother holds her newborn son, his eyes tell her that she is his world. But often, as he grows up, the boy who needs her simultaneously pushes her away. Calling upon thirty years of experience as a pediatrician, Meg Meeker, M.D., a highly sought after ...
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Strong Mothers, Strong Sons: Lessons Mothers Need to Raise Extraordinary Men

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Meg Meeker, M.D., acclaimed author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, now turns to an equally powerful relationship in the family: the one between mother and son.
From the moment a mother holds her newborn son, his eyes tell her that she is his world. But often, as he grows up, the boy who needs her simultaneously pushes her away. Calling upon thirty years of experience as a pediatrician, Meg Meeker, M.D., a highly sought after national speaker, assistant professor of clinical medicine, and mother of four, shares the secrets that every mother needs to know in order to strengthen—or rebuild—her relationship with her son.
Boys today face unique challenges and pressures, and the burden on mothers to guide their boys through them can feel overwhelming. This empowering book offers a road map to help mothers find the strength and confidence to raise extraordinary sons by providing encouragement, education, and practical advice about
• the need for mothers to exercise courage and be bolder and more confident about advising and directing their boys
• the crucial role mothers play in expressing love to sons in healthy ways so they learn to respect and appreciate women as they grow up
• the importance of teaching sons about the values of hard work, community service, and a well-developed inner life
• the natural traps mothers of boys often fall into—and how to avoid them
• the need for a mother to heal her own wounds with the men in her life so she can raise her son without baggage and limitations
• the best ways to survive the moments when the going gets tough and a mom’s natural ways of communicating—talking, analyzing, exploring—only fuel the fire
When a mother holds her baby boy for the first time, she also instinctively knows something else: If she does her job right and raises her son with self-esteem, support, and wisdom, he will become the man she knows he was meant to be.

Praise for Strong Mothers, Strong Sons
“Solid, practical advice for women on how to properly nurture their sons.”—Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Meg Meeker, M.D.
Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters
“Dr. Meeker’s conclusions are timely, relevant, and often deeply moving. No one interested in what girls experience growing up in our culture today—and the impact that parents, especially fathers, have on the experience—can afford to miss reading this book.”—Armand M. Nicholi, Jr., M.D., professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
“Reassuring and challenging . . . a helpful road map for concerned fathers [that] tackles difficult issues.”—National Review
Boys Should Be Boys
“If you want to raise a boy you’ll be proud of, read Boys Should Be Boys.”—Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover
“Filled with inspirational vignettes, Boys Should Be Boys empowers parents to stay involved and protect their sons’ innocence. It’s a wonderfully written and eye-opening book—a must-read.”—Neil Bernstein, Ph.D., author of There When He Needs You
The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers
“Offers practical ways to help you let go of ‘mom guilt’ in order to become a happier, healthier woman.”—Parent & Child
“Just about any mom, or dad, can find useful wisdom in this book.”—Associated Press

From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

With her 2006 Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, Dr. Meg Meeker successfully demolished the silly old notion that only fathers raised sons and only mothers raise daughters. Her latest effort empowers moms to confidently provide the guidance and authoritative information which boys and young men might not directly receive otherwise. With gender issues remaining so prominent in our culture, Strong Mothers, Strong Sons offers viable ways to raise offspring in responsible, rewarding ways.

Publishers Weekly
Aimed at mothers of sons of all ages, Meeker's (Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters) latest self-help manual takes multiple, not always cohesive, approaches to navigating the parent-child gender divide. While some statistically founded male-female differences, such as general deviations in communication style, are included, the author makes unexplained assertions that men and women are basically positioned to misunderstand one another. Meeker's contentions that every boy will feel threatened by the emotional attachment he has to his mother and that nothing is more important to a son than a solid relationship with his father are to be accepted as absolutes with no mention of the underpinning of data. Even though the "boy code" that triggers many boys' emotional off-switch is credited largely to social factors, mothers are said to be naturally more in tune with a son's needs. When we are offered a glimpse of why it is mothers are "wired" for more sensitive communication, the reasoning is imprecise. Meeker's points about egocentricism precluding children from truly empathizing with adults' emotions are some of the most clearly delineated in the book. Whereas in other places her line of thinking is less clear with claims that either unsubstantiated or appear out of the blue, such as when Meeker firmly asserts that religious faith in God makes it "far easier" to instil hope in your son. While it contains notable anecdotes and nuggets of advice few would question—such as to keep yourself emotionally healthy so you can nurture your kids—the manual relies heavily on underdeveloped theories on the strict, troublesome gender differences between essentially all mothers and sons. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"Marguerite Gavin's firm voice and flawless understanding of these ideas give this production enormous appeal and validity. Her empathy for her audience is palpable and will encourage mothers to learn about their awesome power without provoking guilt or overwhelming them." —-AudioFile
Kirkus Reviews
How women can raise boys to become good men. More than ever, women are under pressure to be "everything to everyone," writes Meeker (The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity, 2010, etc.), as "working women feel that they must perform equally well both in the office and in caring for their home, husband, and children." The dynamics of raising boys is especially difficult for women due to the gender difference and the fact that women tend to be nurturing and helpful while allowing their sons to evolve into men in a constantly shifting masculine paradigm. Through research and interviews from her own practice, Meeker gives women the necessary tools to understand that perfection is not a realistic goal but that doing the best one can will ensure good results. Equally useful to single mothers and women with husbands is the advice that sons need to know they are loved from a very young age, as this builds a foundation of confidence in a child, a base that allows a boy to gradually move away from his mother as he interacts with male peers and elders. A boy's home life must be solid: a safe haven to return to regardless of his age, a place where his thoughts and feelings are respected and where he can express his hopes and dreams without fear of judgment. Meeker recommends introducing boys to religion, prayer and the unconditional love that comes from having a strong faith to boost self-confidence. She also skillfully navigates the world of sex—from a boy's first body awareness to the powerful effects of pornography and sexual messages embedded in social media, video games and news media, to his interactions in the world of girls and women. A mother's imprint on her son is powerful right from birth and remains so throughout her son's life. Meeker's advice gives women the tools to navigate these often rocky waters with confidence. Solid, practical advice for women on how to properly nurture their sons.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345518118
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/8/2014
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 51,889
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Meg Meeker, M.D., is the author of Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters; Boys Should Be Boys; and The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers. She has been a physician practicing pediatric and adolescent medicine, working with children and their parents, for more than thirty years. Dr. Meeker is the mother of four children and lives and works with her husband in northern Michigan.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

You Are His First Love

(But Never Tell Him That)

The moment that little bundle of pink, squirming flesh slips into our arms, love touches us. We feel it, not just in our hearts, but also on our skin. He is there. Our son. He is the one who will teach us what male love is like in its purest form. He will be devoted to us and care for us as no other man will.

In my practice, I’ve seen something extraordinary, almost spiritual, in the eyes of young mothers who hold their sons for the first time. It’s as though we know we have to hold on tightly, while we can, because deep down, we realize that we can’t keep them. They will grow up, fall in love, and another will take our place. At that point, sons must leave their mothers. We can’t be in the middle of those relationships. Our daughters, on the other hand, don’t need to leave us in the same way; somehow, we can maintain an intimacy with them even when they are grown and have fallen in love. We are connected to our sons by the same deep love we have for our daughters, but there is a different makeup to the mother-son relationship. One day, when he falls for someone, the nature of his bond with us will shift; we will no longer be his first love. And the moment he is born, our deep sensibilities know this.

For your infant son, you represent nurture and safety. You are the giver of joy, food, trust, love, and all good things. The moment he hears your voice and smells your skin he knows he will be taken care of. He intuitively believes that you will not go away, that you will always be there for him.

As he matures into his toddler years, he watches your face to see what you are feeling. He doesn’t watch you because he is interested in you; rather, he watches because he wants to know what you think about him. If he reads your face and concludes that you are happy with him, then he will feel good about life. He needs your attention: He needs to know where you are and what you are doing. When he is unhappy or scared, he may even get mad at you because you are the one who should prevent these negative feelings, and if you haven’t, he expects you to fix it. In his mind, you are his whole world.

Fathers are critical to the healthy emotional, physical, and intellectual development of boys, but their role is different, particularly when boys are young. It is generally true that mothers are more emotionally tuned in to children than are fathers. It’s mom who gives the child his emotional and psychological vocabulary. It’s mom who provides the physical and emotional nurture.

From the moment your son is born, he knows that you are different from him—not just because you are an adult, but because you are female. Even as a tiny infant, he realizes on some level that you are his introduction to female love. When you respond to him kindly when he is an infant, he learns to associate kindness with females. If you soothe him when he is afraid, then females are trustworthy. In a very real sense, you lay the foundation for how he will relate to women for the rest of his life. You set a template over his heart that will guide his actions from his earliest years through adulthood.

You are his world for the first few years of his life, but equally important, you are the prism through which he will see all women. If you are trustworthy, he can trust his sister, his grandmother, his teacher, and yes, his wife. As you love him he realizes that being loved by a woman feels good. Then, as he grows older, he will love and be loved by other female figures in a healthy way.

On the other hand, if he has perceived that you are unpredictable in your love, he will learn to protect himself very early on. He will withdraw from women and refuse to open his heart to them for fear of being hurt again. If he has felt rejection from you, he will believe that other women will reject him as well. Depending on how deeply a boy has been hurt, he may well recoil from all women throughout his life. Many of us have encountered men who can’t trust women, either because they have been hurt by a woman they loved or, quite often, because the woman who was their first love (mother, grandmother, or any female who cared for them as an infant and toddler) emotionally abandoned them. Being a boy’s introduction to female love is no small responsibility.

Showing Them What a Woman Can Be

When John was ten years old, his father died of pancreatic cancer. As the oldest of three children, he immediately assumed the role of “man of the house.” This wasn’t something that his mother told him to do, he later recalled. He simply assumed it because that’s what he believed his father would have wanted. John and his siblings were thrown into what felt like a black hole, he said. His father left the family financially drained because he had gambling debts and no life insurance. When his father was alive, his mother had worked outside the home as a housekeeper for several families, but only part-time so that she could be there when her children came home from school. After his father died, all of that changed. Not only did his mother now have to work full-time as a housekeeper, but she also took an evening job at a local restaurant waiting tables to pay the bills and clean up some of her husband’s debt.

John described those years to me as “hell on earth.” As a ten-year-old, he was feeling the rumblings of puberty along with his all-consuming grief. He couldn’t study and his grades plummeted. When this happened, he felt guilty because he desperately didn’t want his mother to feel disappointed. He tried harder at school and dropped out of sports in order to bring his grades up. In the evenings, he couldn’t study because as the oldest child, he spent that time taking care of his siblings while his mother was at the restaurant. He helped them with their schoolwork and fed them dinner. And in addition to taking care of everyday chores, he assumed a more important role of protecting his younger siblings. He made sure that the doors were locked at night. But as a child himself, he too felt afraid. Keeping watch over his young siblings was frightening for him, especially because he felt insecure as a protector. “I don’t know what it was,” he told me, “but I was so afraid for them. I was scared that something bad would happen to them, too, and I would be responsible. I just remember sitting so many nights alone frightened and feeling overwhelmed.”

When John first told me his story a year ago, he was a grown man with a family of his own. But as he recalled those nights trying to care for his younger siblings, I saw the fear he experienced as a child come alive in him. The frightened little boy inside the adult man began to speak for him, and I wanted to reach over to him and hug that small boy. The pain of those troubling days was still present and raw, and sitting next to him, I could feel it, too.

“It seemed like my teen years lasted twenty. I was so lonely for my mother. I was lonely for my dad, too, but I remember feeling mostly angry toward him. Not only was I mad at him for dying, and feeling guilty that I felt that way; I was mad because he hurt us so badly. My dad gambled and his debt forced my mother to have to leave us in order to work, but he drank a lot while he was alive. I hated him for that. In a way, I guess that you could say he left us before he died. He spent a lot of time drunk. I worried about my mother even before he died.”

As John spoke, I wondered how he had managed to process his anger and grief so well that now, at age thirty-eight, he was able to speak so openly about the pain. Had he been to a grief counselor when he was a child? I queried. “Oh no,” he said. “That would have been good, I suppose, but how would I have done that? I didn’t drive and the other kids were home after school. They were all I had.”

“So,” I began, “how did you make it through? I mean, if you couldn’t see your mother much and you really had no one to talk to, how did you get past the grief and move forward with your life?”

“It was really tough. But I have to say, my mother saved me. No, I didn’t get much time with her, but I could watch her. I took in everything that she said when she was around and I watched every move she made.”

I had to interrupt him because I couldn’t help thinking that he must have felt neglected. So I asked him, “Didn’t you feel neglected by your mother? She spent so much time working out of necessity.”

He looked at me quizzically. “Never. I know that she was doing the best she could. Plus, she realized that my father’s death was a terrible strain on us. She would ask us how we were doing. She took us out sometimes on weekends to the park or to do something fun. She would tell us that we needed to just be kids. I think hearing that validated our desires to sometimes live like ‘normal’ kids who had two living parents. Mostly, I never felt neglected because my mother showed us how to work together as a unit. We all had extra chores because my dad wasn’t around and we all did them together. She was extraordinary and she led us by example. She worked harder than anyone I had—or still have—seen, and her refusal to give up on life kept us all going. I saw how much she was doing, just to take care of her kids. And she was always happy—or at least it seemed that way to me. When I saw how much she loved me and how hard she worked for me and my sister and brother, I loved her all the more. I always felt loved by my mother, even though she wasn’t around all the time. She really showed me how to be a strong, good adult.”

As mothers, we want all our children to be happy. We rush to quiet their cries when they are infants because we don’t want them to be uncomfortable or sad. When they are first playing sports or going to school, we watch to see how their peers treat them so that we can help if they are rejected or bullied. Sometimes we spoil them with games and treats and sometimes we give in to their whims far too easily because we don’t want to say no. We want our sons to be happy; therefore we don’t want to disappoint them by telling them that they can’t do something or that we won’t give them something that they desperately want. We mothers are pleasers. We are willing to sacrifice our desires in order to meet the needs of our kids. This is good, but there are times when we cross a line and cause problems down the road for our sons because we are simply too nice. This is a natural trap for loving mothers to fall into, but there are some very concrete ways of avoiding it and instead behaving in a way that results in true, long-lasting happiness for our sons.

Love Him When the Going Gets Tough

As mothers, we know that feeling loved brings our sons deep satisfaction, contentment, and a sense of security that they will take with them into adulthood. When they are born we ogle over them and wonder how we can feel such intense love for one human being. But as our boys grow older, that perfect love can become complicated by the realities of day-to-day living. Sometimes our sons make us mad, or they disappoint us. Sometimes it feels as though they don’t appreciate us. Gone is the little boy who trusted us as his entire world, and in his place is a toddler who tells us that we don’t know what we’re talking about because after all, we’re just “Mom.” With our daughters, it’s easier to talk things out and get at the emotional core of the issues that arise. But girls are communicators and most boys aren’t. Though exact statistics vary among research, the number of words that females use per day is in the order of thirteen thousand more than men per day.1 Boys see through a different lens than we do and often it is hard to understand one another. In fact, many times when we try to make amends by discussing our feelings with our sons, we can be met with further rejection because boys don’t always want to talk things through. And then, hurt, we often end up pulling back, which creates unnecessary distance between us without solving the problem.

But it is important to remember that no son can be genuinely happy unless he knows deep in his soul that his mother loves him. Remember earlier when I said that mom represents safety? For our children, their mother’s love has to be nonnegotiable and constant. That’s why it sometimes seems that they take our love for granted; they do. We are the ones who won’t change. We won’t leave, run out, or withhold love. At least, that’s what they want to feel, deep down inside. So what are we to do when the going gets tough and our natural ways of communicating—talking, analyzing, exploring our feelings—don’t work with our sons?

When Aristotle wrote that men find complete happiness and contentment when life leaves them nothing else to be desired, he was not talking about material possessions.2 He was talking about living with a sense of such deep satisfaction that nothing feels lacking. Not that video game, or that toy or those cupcakes. This is a contentment wherein the soul itself feels satisfied.

St. Augustine put a theological bent on this when describing happiness. He taught that “perfect happiness belongs to the immortal soul, completely at rest in the beatific vision, for in the vision of God the soul is united to the infinite good by knowledge and love. In the divine presence and glory all the natural desires of the human spirit are simultaneously satisfied—the intellect’s search for truth and the will’s yearning for the good.”3

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2014

    Teenage Mother part one

    At first i didn't belive it ethire, but werewolves, vampires and (rare) ghost whispers exist. Im one of them, a werewolf, to be exact. Im also a 13 year old mother. I know i know, it sounds crazy. But things aren't always as they seem. I didnt have se* with my crush, i didnt sle<_>ep with my ex. I huged my crush, a human named Tyler. You see, werewolf "trigers" are very sensitive when it comes to mateing, mostly on the day/night of the full moon. I made a mistake hugging Tyler for more than 6 seconds on the day of a full moon. The next thing i know, two months later, on a warm April night, Cole was born. I'll explain the rest while i tell this story to you. <p> Racheal wrapped a thin baby blue blanket around Cole loosely and picked him up. Cole giggled lightly and grabed hold of my hair. I chuckled and kissed his head. 'He has Tyler's dark green eyes,' she thought to herself. She freed her hair and walked toward her school. <p> By the time Racheal got there, Cole was fast asleep and Tyler was sitting in a chair by the office. "Hi," she whispered and Tyler lifted his head. Instently he shot to his feet and pushed his glasses up. "The principle said that i was a fath—" She took a step closer and looked down at Cole. He was now wide awake and trying to get a look at his father, his tiny hands reaching up. He made a noise that sounded like "up." She smiled andtook off the blanket and put it over her shoulder, holding Cole up so he could see Tyler. He laughed and i hugged him close as Tyler's eyes went wide. "A father," he said quietly. I offered a smile and sat on the bench. When he sat beside me, i held Cole out. "You wanna hold him?" <p>That was all she thought to say, decideing to take it slow while explaining about there werewolf thing. Tyler nodded and i placed Cole in his arms. He giggled and made the usal baby noises while tyler hugged him. "I have a son..." he murmered. "I have a son." Racheal smiled and scooted closer toward them so Tyler's sgoulder brushed hers. "What's his name?" he asked. She smiled brighter and replied softly. "I named him Cole." Tyler chuckled as Cole held his index finger. "How old is he?" he asked. I frowned, trying to remember how long it's been since i had Cole. <p>"About 3 weeks. But....Tyler, there's something i need to explain to you. About both of us." She put a hand on Cole's head. Tyler gazed at her. "What about you and Cole? What's wrong?" Worry shined in his green eyes. Racheal took a breath. "Well, it's hard to explain but, im a werewolf....and so is Cole." <p>Tyler's mouth dropped open.<p> to be continued at result two.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2014

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