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Encouraging Mothers to Let Go of Sons

By December 18, 2008May 12th, 2010Family, Parenting, Youth

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” (1 Samuel 1:27-28 NIV)


This is one of those posts that if I am not careful could come back to hurt me.  Have you ever met an angry mother trying to protect her child?  I am talking about that kind of hurt.  Let me just say to read this and “if the shoe fits wear it”. If it does not apply to you then I will see you next post.  Let me say though, that I do not approach this lightly, so please have an open heart and mind as you read. 


I want to address the issue of mothers letting go of their sons.  In my opinion, in the age of the strong mother and absentee father, the dilemma of the weak man has reached epidemic proportions.  Mothers are more protective than ever and sons are having a harder time leaving their mothers and leading in their homes.  Many wives stand in the way of their husbands building men and try to keep their “little boys” under their control and protection.  I often encounter men who cannot make decisions for themselves, have no real direction in life and are afraid of their future.  Many of these issues relate back to a mother who never allowed her son the opportunity to stop being her “little boy”. 


The goal of the mother should be to nurture a boy, provide for his care, love him unconditionally, and then release him to the world.  Men have an innate need to lead. They are born to protect, to fix things, and to provide strength.  This side of a man seldom realizes his potential under the continued control and oversight of a doting mother.  (Okay, I said the worst part.  Cast your stones now before you read the rest of this post.) 


Mothers, I know you love your sons.  You should.  I am glad you do.  I have a strong, loving mother.  I would not be who I am today without her strength, love and guidance. I still need her in my life.  The fact remains, however, that I have responsibilities that God has given me and I must stand up to them on my own. I must be able to make decisions for myself, learn from my mistakes, and at times have my heart broken so that I become the man God has called me to be.  Completing that means, I must be able to stand independent from my mother.  She cannot shelter me, control me or fix my problems for me.  The process of becoming a man begins early in life, but by the time a boy is an early teenager his mother needs to be in the practice of releasing him to God and the world. 


This is surely a tough task for any mom. Striking the delicate balance between love and control of their lives will not be easily managed, but I encourage mothers to work towards releasing their sons.  The men their sons become will be worth the sacrifice. 

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 29 Comments

  • Renay says:

    I am in a relationship with a 27yr old and am 29yrs only child for his mom. He spent money on the his mom house so he ask me to move in after a year so we could save some money an get our own in due time.The mom smartly torment my relationship but my boyfriend can’t see it. She does nothing for him she only wants him money what he works. I couldn’t take it no more I decided to move out an he moved with me and even so she still torment the relationship I couldn’t take it no more I had to break it off. I couldn’t believe thou because of is mom he jus let his two and a half year relationship went down like that. He told me all his life his mom did nothing for him he had to work an help himself from he was ten. I have seen how cruel she is, she treats him like crap and he jus sit and take it an don’t stand up to her. I told him am not asking him to choose but to set his standards because as long as he is around her he will never achieve nothing. He has achieve so much an give his mom everything an now has to start over again and she continues to tear him down why is he so blind to see her for who she is. He is a wonderful guy but very weak.

  • glenda says:

    My 35 yr old son does not communicate with me on personal things period. He and his father talk about guy things all the time and I'm a third wheel. He is married for the 2nd time to a girl who was very communicative before marriage but distant after becoming married. Very frustrating. They have been trying to conceive since they married because she is older than him by 7 years. They are so hush-hush about it. I sit and wonder all the time how the baby-making is coming along. My son always says when I ask that he doesn't want to talk about it. I quit asking and one day when my husband & I met him for lunch, he told us they are tried IVF with no success. That was 3 months ago and he hasn't brought up the subject since and told us that his wife doesn't know that we know about the IVF. Now he is mum on the subject. I could be there for both of them as I too had fertility problems. Sometimes I feel if I died they would not care. What's up with this?

    • ronedmondson says:

      I'm so sorry. It must be hard on mothers of sons. We know the pain (or at least my wife does), as we've experienced similar with two boys, one of them married.Unfortunately, you may never know as much of the personal things as you once did. Guys have a hard time sharing intimate details with more than one woman. We are wired for to be one women men. (The bible calls it “leave and cleave” and that is our wiring naturally)What I would say is to consider writing a letter to your son, be very affirming, releasing him, that you love him and only want the best for him. Don't be a martyr about it…that never works and irritates the wife, complicating things for your son (and you end up losing more). But you can be honest that you are trying to stay out, but also want them to know you're covering them with prayer. Tell him you are there to talk, based on your experience, but will wait to be asked.Sadly, there isn't much you can “do” to fix this. Just keep praying for them, but writing a letter may help, especially considering your heart is breaking.Praying for you now

    • Kim C. says:

      Speaking as a daughter in law, Most people in marriages want to keep their marriage lives between them. That includes sex, issues, etc. between them. They will let you know what concerns you (like WHEN you have a new grand-baby coming). Try asking him stuff that concerns YOU and HIM instead of HIM and HER. That might get you farther. Good luck!

  • hates mama's boys says:

    I am 23 and I am have been in a relationship with a 41 year old man for almost 2 years now.
    He is a sweet and kind person . Sadly his father was abusive when he was growing up and
    his mother was emotionally abusive. He and his 3 sisters are all really messed up. But all of his sisters
    have gone on to make lives for themselves ( however pathetic they might be) but my boyfriend has not
    even done this yet. He does not care for his father at all but is in love with his mother. I think it is nice when
    a man loves mother but I hate a sissy mama's boy that can't think or live without his stupid mother,exspecially when she has abused and manipulated him his whole life. She has caused him more problems than anyone can imagine. It is so bad he cannot even decided what he wants when out to eat and he is convinced that no one can ever really love him cuz she has it in his head that he is not good enough for anyone but her. This is just the tip of the iceberg. If i went into detail about how messed up she has him and the rest of her kids it would make people cry. Not to mention when he was a kid she and her husband followed some kind of freaky religion . They went to some kind of creepy church called the spiritualist church where "mediums and psychics " run the church and they talk to the spirit world. They are a sad,pathetic and creepy family plus the dad was a pervert. I have him in therapy now cuz of all the damage she and his dad has caused. I am sure he will need mental help for the rest of his life. He is gonna have to choose between her and a life with me which she can never be apart of. Does anyone have any advice or comments to make on this? Please pray for him and for us cuz he needs all the prayers he can get.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Yea that's a tough one. Gonna be hard to reverse the culture/DNA of that family dynamic.

  • sandra says:

    Great article. I have a son 34 leaving home for first time for grad school in Europe but
    I am really anxious about it. He has been chronically ill for years and I have been his
    caretaker–but now I am letting him go because I want him to become more
    independent, live a fuller life. But it is hard for me because I worry about him
    and doing things for him is a big part of my life. I pray God will help me grow as
    a person and I will make good decisions about the lives of my adult children.
    Peace, strength, comfort to all mothers–

  • jane says:

    My sons are 32 and 21. You'd have thought that I'd have let go. They are both incredible men. The older one is a substance abuse therapist and the other is working on a degree in microbiology/epidemiology (he wants to cure HIV/AIDS). I'm so proud of both of them, but I can't seem to let go that I'm just a player in their lives now. The older has a 2-year-old and another on the way. He's a wonderful dad and his wife is a fabulous mom. Tears are streaming down my face right now, not because of who they are … I am so proud of both of them. I just feel lost. How do I move on? How do I let go?

    • ronedmondson says:

      This is tough Jane. I wish I had an easy answer for you. I will say, however, that it helps me with my two boys (and it's hard for dads too) when I see things with a bigger picture in mind. When I realize that my work was done well, that my boys are doing as they were designed to do, (be men) then I can take pride in my work and move on to new work…praying for them, encouraging them, and being available as they need me. It hurts to love someone so much to let them go, but that's part of the circle of life God has called us to be a part of. Of course, we wouldn't want anything else for them, but it's still hard.

  • Ronnie says:

    I am dealing with an intrusive mother-in-law that believs that her son must go to her (not to me, his wife)with everything. I cannot tell you how frustrated I am as a wife to be married to both my husband and my mother-in-law. I have pleaded with my husband to do something about this and stand up and be a man but the truth is his mother never allowed him to be.. I am truely at my wits end and have prayed for God to take over in this. I wish my mother-in-law could read english and see that her behavior towards her son who has been on his own and married for 8 years is not her baby and she needs to back off. Our marriage is at risk due to her constant bossy, intrusive behavior and I only pray that she chills out and gives her son who is going crazy over all of this some space soon. You just don't know what the daughter in-law goes through mothers. Stop the insanity and let your children live adult lives. Worry not, God is in control NOT YOU! Let go andlet the wife be the woman in his life. This is devastating and can end in divorce because of YOU!

    • ronedmondson says:

      I'm sorry to hear your story. I've heard it many times…Praying for you…

    • Kim C. says:

      Amen! I don't know how much I can take. And as you said, I feel like I'm married to my husband and his mother. I hope it doesn't come to divorce. I've asked her to not let him be so dependent on her and I've asked him to get independent. Who else do I ask? Why am I even here? We have 2 children together and she tries to take our daughter over too (not our son yet. I guess she still has one of those.) I understand it's hard for her but he is married. She is married. She would not like it either if my husband's grandmother always needed a report of their business. I wish they'd switch places with the daughter in laws for just a minute and try to understand,

  • Wow, Ron. Great post. I have a 20 y/o son still at home, going to junior college and a 16 y/o son who is a sophomore in HS. (I also have an 18 y/o daughter who is a senior in HS.) We adopted all 3 kids 6 yrs ago when their dad died. It feels too soon to start letting go (always knew it would!) but of course I want my boys to be productive, responsible, strong and loving men of God. I will be thinking about what you said, especially about the roles God has created them to fulfill. Good word. I know this one will stay with me and continue to impact me as I partner with my husband to prepare our boys for the future God has for them. Thanks again.


  • Musicgirl77 says:

    Very true! I was an only child to an overbearing mother. I always said I would not be that way or have an only child. God gave me one son. I have prayed since having him that God prepare me to let go of him gracefully. I cannot tell you how hard it was the first time a little girl broke his heart! I tried to leave it in his hands as much as possible and I cried for him behind closed doors. But I see a difference in the maturity level of my son compared to many his age these days and still say God is good! Our job as a parent is to produce a productive citizen of this world and when we have done that, we need to let them go do it!

  • Heidi says:

    Thank you Ron-I appreciate it! Your blog inspired one of my own:

  • Heidi says:

    You are so right. I am a single mom of two boys (15 and 11) and it breaks my heart to feel that pulling and tearing as they begin to break away through the tween and teen years. It's almost like another labor for a mom, giving birth to a boy changing into a man. But I know it is for their good as well as mine (and for their future wives as well!). Thanks for the post!

  • Amy says:

    Rick is right. Ron, your timing is amazing. Or should I say God's timing?

    During an eruption of emotion, by me, and the ensuing quasi-logical thinking and discussion that went on for 9 hours the next day in the car, (as we traveled home from #1 son & his wife's home), I discovered that though I've done my job in raising my two boys, I'm not entirely happy with the fact I did it so well. Ok, I'm happy they're wonderful, responsible, Jesus-loving adults, who take care of their own stuff and do it well.

    But I guess I really miss the fact they DON'T need me like they did when they were little, and I'm mourning that. I didn't realize I would mourn the need they had for their mom. Parenting boys in their 20's is vastly different, and I do love my life with my husband now they're no longer here. But I raised them to fly, and be responsible fliers, and they are.

    (When son #1 was little, I told a friend, jokingly, I'd be ok if he grew up to be an ax-murderer, as long as he'd stand up and say "I DID IT".) Said son is now a husband, the father of 2, step-father of 2, and a college-degreed police officer.

    Thanks for this post Ron. And I also want to give kudos to Rick here who understands already what his wife is and will be going through. Sounds like he understood it before I did, and I'm the one going through it! She is a lucky woman.

    • ronedmondson says:

      It's a hard doubt about it. Thanks for recognizing the need of your sons and this new role. We experienced this separation with a son moving away to go to college and now our oldest son about to be married. We are excited for the changes in them, but we are missing the early days.

  • Jim Jackson says:

    Ron, Good wisdom. My sister has a 31 year son who is working and lives with her. He is moving out in 2 weeks and she is still helping him pay the bills. The problem is she keeps making his payments on his car and insurance. She is robbing him of his manhood and I need to get her to understand that he needs to figure out how to make it work. Do you have any ideas or readings that might help? I know there is not much I can do without driving a wedge between us.

  • Debbie Elder says:

    This is so true. I tell my hubby he is such a Momma’s boy. I have to do everything for him. Register him for school, plan his classes, secure financial aid, etc. If I didn’t he would never go and get it done. I always tell him that he needs to leave and cleave! He thinks I am over reacting but he just doesn’t get it.

  • rick says:

    wow – timing!
    my wife and i have been talking through this and related issues just this week – specifically, not so much letting go, but the pain that it causes her to let go.

    while at the same time he is bonding more and more with me as his dad, but also as a young man. it’s great to watch the segue from boyhood into the fraternity of brothers called men. but it’s also painful for the mom.

    great post, tender heart and i appreciate the approach.

  • Renee Garcia says:

    Can I send this to my mother-in-law? 😉

    • kim C. says:

      Ditto. We are trying to move away (we live near her right now and she visits, calls, or texts almost every day- my husband sees nothing wrong with this) and she won't let us! She drives almost 2 hours every week. I want to cry!!