Mothers of sons. I never had the responsibility of raising a boy to manhood. I’m not sure how I would have done. Though I was raised with two brothers, one older and the other younger, I doubt that qualifies me to discuss the unique relationship that exists. However, talking with my brothers, my husband, and working as a counselor, I’ve heard many stories about the close versus distant, hovering versus neglectful, and healthy versus toxic relationship between mothers and sons. Freud was not the first to correlate problems in grown men to the care given them as children by their mothers; Scripture also illustrates for us the powerful influence mothers have had on their sons.
Prophets and kings are made by mothers. For example, Elijah, whose parents are never mentioned, just shows up at a time that Israel needs an intervention. His words are from God, and he goes where he is sent by God. Peggy Drexler, MD wrote, “Years of research on families and parenting have shown me how successful moms raise self-assured and caring sons by nurturing their boy power – the artful combination of physicality and sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, ” (http://www.peggydrexler.com/original/raisingconfidentsons.htm).
The opposite kind of mothering can produce an entirely different kind of man. Take Ahaziah, for instance. His mother Athaliah who upon hearing that her son Ahaziah was dead, set off to kill all of his sons (her grandchildren) so that she could become the Queen Mother. Can you imagine what kind of mother she must have been to Ahaziah? To please her, he followed the gods that she worshiped and caused all of Israel to do the same. The power to influence her son is no surprise since we know that her infamous mother was Jezebel, instigator of her husband Ahab’s failures.
By the next king’s reign, that of Jehoram, God had prepared the heart of the prophet Elisha to be raised up for the task of opposing him. We know something of how much Elisha honored his mother. His first words to Elijah whom he was determined to follow were, “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you,” (1 Kings 19:20). This shows respect, a quality that was important to his ministry.
King Jehoram’s claim to fame was simply stated that ‘he did evil in the sight of the Lord.’ His mother was also Jezebel – go figure.
King Jehoshaphat, on the other hand, “walked in the way of his father Asa, and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 20:32) His mother, Azubah, is one of the few mothers of Biblical characters who are mentioned, so it appears to me that she was an important influence for his living a godly life.
Two very important mothers in the New Testament are Mary the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist. They passed on to their sons a familial love that surpassed the natural reciprocity of earthly love. These women were not extraordinary, but humble; they were strong, but obedient; they were righteous and gave God glory for their pregnancies. Both mothers encouraged their sons to listen for God’s will and to act on it. We read John’s words, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven,” (John 3:27). Again, Jesus testifies, “And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies” (John 3:32).
A mother’s influence on her son. So the legacy of an unloving mother is a distant, hypercritical son. If the mother is smothering or enmeshed, the son may develop an insecure attachment and have avoidant issues, acting out behaviors, anger, aggression, hostility, or distress even in joyful situations,” (May 7, 2013, Psychology Today. Streep, Peg. “Sons of Unloving Mothers: The Same Wounds and Then Some: It’s not just daughters who hurt.”)
Yet the legacy of a loving mother is one of respect according to Jen Smidt (2014, Resurgence, “10 Ways for Moms to Respect Their Sons”). ” A mother’s respect for her son is founded upon his image bearing of her heavenly Father and belief that God has given her a powerful gift to steward for a season.”
Happy Mother’s Day to all who are, have been, or would like to be.