MOTHER, LET ME GO
In mother-son enmeshment, the mother inverts the parent-child relationship, so that the boy is now being used to stabilise the needy mother rather than the other way around. The child’s adoring attention soothes the inner emotional storms of the mother’s feelings; it calms her anxious, fearful, and angry moods. But then his natural need for autonomy arises, beginning at the age of two or three and then at later times throughout childhood. (Many people assume the need for autonomy begins in adolescence, but this isn’t true.) He wants to feel free to come and go without negative consequences; he needs to avoid the burden of having to placate his mother’s disappointment. But the enmeshing mother feels threatened when her adoring, loving, reassuring son now is poised to withdraw her source of emotional well-being. She feels that his departure-as natural as it is-is dangerous to her happiness and emotional stability. Unconsciously, and sometimes consciously, she begins to bind him to her. She has the power to be successful in en-meshing him, but this happens at a huge cost to the son’s future happiness.
Dr. Kenneth M. Ada