Dad Fears Young Son Is Becoming a Mama’s Boy

Can you help me figure out if my five-year-old son is overly attached to his mother? There are some days when it seems almost impossible to separate him from her. When we ride in the car, he insists that she sit in the back seat with him. Only mama can clean him up when he makes a mess, and only mama is allowed to read him a bedtime story. I do get some meaningful interaction with him on weekends when there's more time to play and do boy things together. But I'm beginning to wonder if he'll ever outgrow this phase of clinging to mom.

On the whole, we see no reason to assume that your son won’t outgrow this phase in time. But we do have a few suggestions that may help speed up the process and eliminate some of your frustration in the interim.

First, make sure that you and your wife are on the same page regarding this issue. We suggest you sit down with her and express your concerns openly. Hopefully she’ll be able to see your point of view. If she agrees that there may be a potential problem here, the next step is to ask her if she can help you and your son find more opportunities for bonding.

You should also make a conscious effort to take a more active role in assisting your son with his personal needs, reading him his bedtime story, and other regular parent-child activities. Don’t give him the option of having Mom do it. Just make it clear – very kindly and gently – that Dad is going to do the bathing or reading tonight. If his reaction is severe, you might consider having your wife sit nearby so that her presence can be a reassurance to him. Transitional measures like this are fine as long as you get the message across that Dad is in the picture and involved.

It’s encouraging to know that you are spending plenty of “dad time” with your son on weekends. It might be a good idea to initiate some new, fun weekday evening activities with him as well, such as reading together or playing some kid-friendly board games. Weather permitting, you might also take a walk to the park and play on the swings or spend some time tossing around a Frisbee.

If the problem persists, or if your wife is resistant to you taking a more involved role with your son, we’d encourage you to consult with a family therapist. Our Counseling Department here at Focus on the Family can refer you to a licensed Christian counselor practicing in your area. They’d also be more than happy to discuss your questions with you over the phone if you think this might be helpful. Call our counselors for a free consultation.


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