'Mama's Boys' Have Better Mental Health

Boys who stay close with mom avoid unhealthy stereotypes
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2010 2:45 PM CDT
The character Iron Man is shown in a scene from "Iron Man 2."   (AP Photo/Marvel Entertainment/Paramount Pictures, Industrial Light and Magic)
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(Newser) – Being what Time describes as a "mama's boy" is good for you, a new study suggests. An Arizona State professor followed 426 boys through middle school to find out when and to what extent they embraced stereotypically male qualities like emotional reserve and physical toughness. He found that boys who shun hyper-masculine behavior have better mental health. And "mother support and closeness was the most predictive of boys' ability to resist stereotypes," the professor says.

But being tight with dad didn't have the same effect. "It could be men see close relationships with their sons as an opportunity to reinforce traditional gender roles." So why are boys taught to "be a man" and conceal their feelings? Some experts blame violent, cold movie superheroes; others point to changing gender stereotypes. "We have come to view fundamentally human attributes such as empathy, emotional skills and the desire for intimate relationships as being girlish or gay," says an NYU psychology professor.

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