By Elisabetta Franzoso, Life Coach, Counsellor, Speaker, Trainer, Author & Social Activist at InsideOutYou Coaching & Training.

Why are they important and how it affects your intimacy, sexuality and emotional intelligence.

A mom-son relationship is deeply delicate. If it is going smooth, the boy can flourish under the care of his mom but when trouble seeps through both need to make the necessary effort to fill the gaps. With my decades of experience as a life coach and counsellor, I have seen this pattern time and time again. In understanding mom and son relationships, I discussed the psychology behind this. Here, I dive deeper into the issues at play…

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Over-protective moms: In my experience as a counsellor, coach and woman, I have seen that women who breastfeed their boys beyond the age of two take their mothering to an extreme that is unhealthy for the child and themselves. I am not dismissing this natural need for a mom to fiercely protect and love her child but sometimes this becomes unhealthy. 

Absent fathers: Often a mom may substitute a relationship with her husband for one with her son. Perhaps her husband has left or died. This is something I have seen many times. 

When parents face intimacy issues: When parents are emotionally distant, the mom can look to their son to fill their emotional needs. We call this emotional enmeshment or entanglement. The son sees his role to make his mom feel healthy and happy. Often it is an unconscious choice by the mom. She can be unaware she is ignoring or denying the issues in her own romantic relationship but is sacrificing the psychological health of the child. When a son becomes its mom’s emotional spouse, a son and mom become very dependent on each other and the son can lose his identity and not have his needs met. 

Sexual enmeshment: In some cases, this goes as far as becoming a sexual relationship. Dr Adams, a clinical psychologist, explores this in Silently Seduced When Parents Make Their Children Partners. He explains how ‘feeling close’ with a parent is not always the source of comfort the phrase suggests, especially when that child is cheated out of a childhood by being a parent’s surrogate partner.

Machoism: Men who are emotionally entangled with their mom’s are prone to becoming what we call ‘macho men’. I describe this as men who are predators and pride themselves on multiple and often enforced sexual conquests. These men are often stuck in a pattern of deep inner pain and toxic shame which can lead to overwhelming toxic guilt, anger, remorse, and a search for ‘revenge’ against their mom. 

Image from Unsplash


Lack of respect: By and large, moms are unaware about their son’s need for ‘respect’. As family expert Emerson Eggerichs writes: “Feeling respected fuels feelings of affection in a son and ‘Respect-Talk’ creates the kind of connectivity every mom yearns to have with her son. Love without respect makes it difficult for a boy to thrive”. 

As it is a mom’s natural inclination to offer love, she often finds it hard to understand the importance of respecting her son. “Elisabetta, women always talk about love but there is no real love without respect, and that starts when you are a child and how you relate to your Mom,” a male friend of 59 succinctly pointed out.

Women find it hard to understand the importance of respect in terms of the love they have for their child. The emerging masculine nature in a boy needs to be respected but when a mom can’t say yes to these masculine drives and prefers her ‘little boy’ to behave as she would it can have long-lasting impacts. 

When I discussed the topic with some men in my circle, it confirmed this pattern. They feel love through respect. In the case of lack of respect, they feel judged and therefore not accepted for who they are. Naturally, this can impact their relationships with women in later life. 

Needs and respect: According to Eggerichs, there are different ways a mom cannot respect her son sufficiently. Normally this plays out by the mom neglecting or minimising his needs. Often moms do this without realising.

Normally, she neglects his masculine drives or his reaction to conflict: 

Eggerichs describes these drivers as the six desires: to work and achieve; provide for, protect and even die; be strong, lead and make decisions; analyse, solve and counsel; do friendship shoulder-to-shoulder; sexually understand and know. A son will be deeply wounded by any suggestion that he is unworthy of ‘respect’ in any of these six areas.

When a Mom provokes her son to get him to talk, he generally pulls away. He withdraws and stonewalls. Women on the contrary feel comfortable in the ocean of emotions. 

To a male, withdrawal is instead an act of honour. He only wants one thing: to move on. Unfortunately, a Mom can misread her son’s poor response as a sign that he doesn’t care. She often escalates the criticism using disrespectful words, trying to draw out a ‘better” response from him. The result? He obeys to avoid more harsh words. In the long run the son’s self-esteem and the mom-son relationship will suffer. “Men do not fear transparency, they fear shame, disapproval or a lecture. They fear disrespect,” Eggerich says. 

How distance can cause depression: “A man who is entangled with his mom in a way that keeps her at a distance may feel partially cut off from life, sad and likely to suffer from bouts of depression,” John Whittington wrote. My real life experience and that of many clients confirm this. During my twenty-six year marriage, I saw how my husband’s unresolved issues with his mom resulted in depression that increased in his fifties.  When his Mom died of cancer at the age of 83 he didn’t want to take part in her funeral. It was hard to convince him to fly from Singapore where we were living to join his father and his other family in Italy.  “Depression may be described and experienced as emptiness and a longing for an energy or life source that is not there, feels inaccessible or not desirable,” Whittington suggests. 

How distance can fuel commitment issues: An unhealthy or entangled relationship with a mom can lead men to struggle with commitment issues. The learned behaviour in childhood can prevent men from really understanding women and entering into a truly intimate and rewarding relationship. 

If what I’ve written has resonated with you and you think I could be the right support for you, feel free to get in touch and schedule a Free 30 Minute Consultation by clicking the button below.

This blog post is categorised in the Relational Dimension. To view blog posts based on the 4 dimensions click the links below:

Relational Dimension

Physical Dimension

Emotional Dimension

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► Elisabetta Franzoso is a multi continental Life and Wellness Coach practicing between Barcelona, London, Milan and Singapore where she has many loyal clients.

► Elisabetta empowers men and women to master their mind, body and personal relationships through renewing their confidence and building a sense of wellness. She does this through her unique Coaching In 4 Dimensions framework which takes into account the physical, emotional, intellectual and relational aspects of humanity.

► Elisabetta will inspire you to live the life you want to live, maximise your potential and achieve self mastery. Aside from coaching, Elisabetta is a passionate social activist and spokesperson against abuse.

► Elisabetta has been featured extensively across international and UK press including Thrive Global, Grazia Magazine, Breathe Magazine and Health & Wellbeing Magazine. Stay up to date with Elisabetta at and


– John Whittington:

– John Gray: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

– Elisabetta Franzoso: Stella’s Mum Gets Her Groove Back – A True Story  ( Kindle link …)

– Emerson Eggerichs: Mother and Son: The Respect Effect 

– Steve Biddulph: The New Manhood: The Handbook for a New Kind of Man 

– J.R. Bruns, M.D – R.A.Richards II – The Tiger Wood Syndrome – When men Prowl and how to not become the Prey.

– Lundy Bancroft: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

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  • Elisabetta Franzoso

    Life Coach, Counsellor, Speaker, Trainer, Author & Social Activist

    InsideOutYou Coaching & Training

    Elisabetta is a dynamic and spirited Life Coach, Counsellor, Trainer and Speaker with an immense fervour for inspiring and motivating individuals to re-engage with their authentic inner selves. Over the course of the last 20 years, Elisabetta has garnered an extensive wealth of knowledge, including a Masters in Counselling, and training in Life Coaching, Family Constellations, Gestalt Body & Movement, Gabrielle Roth's Five Rhythms, EQ, Enneagram and Wellness Wheel. Through her own personal application, life experience and studies in a breadth of areas in the self-development field, Elisabetta has acquired the wisdom to give her clients a bespoke and motivational experience in helping them achieve their goals, live authentically and enrich their personal relationships. She's a former teacher and coach of the Hoffman Process.