Father's Sons and Mummy's Boys

Disclaimer: this post contains gross, unscientific generalisations

Watching a little of the Ben Cousins documentary last night (and I'm not going to comment on it further), I was struck by the strong relationship that evidently exists between Ben and his almost equally famous footballer father, Brian. At one point Brian described himself along the lines that he was "Ben's best friend, his mentor, his role model, his mate," and expressed the hope that Ben seeing the suffering that he was causing him, Brian, would be enough to jolt him out of his destructive behaviour.

I found this particularly interesting because I'd already been thinking about the differences between men who have a strong relationship with their fathers (whether loving or competitive, or both) and men who are more strongly attached to their mothers. Michael has often observed that he, and all his friends, are Mummy's boys - often youngest sons - who are closer to their mothers than their fathers. Traditionally, this has been true of most, if not all, of my male friends. I'm not sure that I even know any men who are close to their fathers.

Are there two types of men in the world? Russel Howcroft, the blokey, aggressive panellist on The Gruen Transfer, spoke in a recent weekend paper about the importance of his relationship with his late father; he says he thinks of him every day. Hm, I thought, he's a Dad's boy; I wonder if Todd Sampson (his "sensitive," more progressive fellow panellist) is a Mummy's boy? And lo and behold, in last week's Sunday Age, there was Todd talking about how his childhood was dominated by his strong, eccentric mother.

Sportsmen often seem to be father's sons. Many of the men I worked with in the music industry were also this type (if it is a type!) - aggressively masculine, competitive, trying to prove something. The mummy's boys, on the other hand, tend to be more comfortable in the company of women, less comfortable with conflict, and yes, some of them are gay.

So what do you think? Go on, shoot me down - please!


  1. can I whisper that I tend to agree with you, Kate? I have nothing scientific to support my belief either, just the experience of having 3 brothers, 2 sons, a couple of husbands... And what about Clive James? Have you ever read Unreliable Memoirs? Apart from being screamingly funny I think you would find that it supports your theory. Definitely a mummy's boy ;)
    Oh yes, and your previous post has got me thinking about Lady Montdore... Such a villain; her memory makes LOL and cringe all at once. x

  2. I wonder if it will be so true for the current generations, living in households not necessarily so gender divided and who are receiving a lot more equal care and probably physical affection from "new age" dads. My cousin is very close to both his parents, and he definitely falls more into the Mikey category than the Ben Cousins.