Did you know that you can attend a mini-workshop on romantic relationships in the comfort of your own home for the price of a rental movie and be entertained at the same time? That’s because this “at-home workshop” uses movies you may already own!
This article, which is an excerpt from the book, “Back to Love: When Pushing and Pulling Threaten to Tear You Apart” (Copyright 2008, All Rights Reserved), shows you how to pay attention to mama’s boy/daddy’s girl. dynamics in certain romantic relationships found in specific movies. It even shows you the movies where you can find evidence of the father’s sons and the mother’s daughters.
The Mama’s Boys are tied, either consciously or unconsciously, to the influence of their mothers. They believe that they get their power from the women in their lives. For systemic reasons, they did not have the opportunity to bond with their parents in adolescence. Mommy’s boys are naturally attracted to daddy’s girls, who complement them in the male/female dance of life.
Daddy’s girls are tied, either consciously or unconsciously, to the influence of their parents. They believe they find satisfaction in caring for the men in their lives. For systemic reasons, they did not have the opportunity to bond with their mothers in adolescence. Daddy’s girls and mama’s boys attract each other like magnets! Each of them senses in the other what was missing from childhood and believes that he can find the missing pieces together. Their relationships begin with a lot of chemistry and happiness. However, when they reach a certain level of commitment, they risk falling out of love unless they can learn to be together as adults, rather than as parents and children.
On the other hand, the Children of the Father came to bond with their parents in adolescence. These men know that they draw their power from within themselves. Similarly, the Daughters of the Mother were able to bond with their mothers in their early teens. They know that wholeness comes from within.
An effective way to watch mama’s boys and daddy’s girls in action is to look for them in movies and on television. That takes the subject far enough away from oneself to be both entertaining and educational!
Television’s newest classic Mama’s Boy can be found in reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond. Raymond and his brother are so tied to the threads of his mother’s apron that it can be repulsive and hysterical to watch. Raymond’s wife, Debra, is also a typical daddy’s girl, as she barely tolerates Raymond’s behavior and bosses him around. Routinely, the most tense moments in the comedy occur when Ray has to choose between his mother and his wife. Invariably, he goes to great lengths to choose both, disappointing both women each time!
One of the most painful portrayals of Daddy’s Girl is found in Funny Girl. As shown in that movie, Fanny Brice takes very sweet care of her husband, Nick Arnstein, as if she were a child and not a grown man. Out of love for him and unaware of what she is doing, she demands him again and again, undermining her masculinity and destroying what remains of her love. She doesn’t mean her, but she can’t help it. She is desperate to hold on to him. The option of letting him handle the consequences of her own actions must have felt like a sure way to lose him. But taking care of him ensured that she would lose him. If you or someone you love is at risk of jeopardizing your relationship because of this kind of care, Funny Girl can be an effective, if painful, mirror to help you encourage yourself or someone else to make a change.
In movies like Sex, Lies, and Videotape, or Enough, or Hanging Up, the depictions of Mama’s Boys and Daddy’s Girls are equally obvious. In Enough we find a representation of a mother’s boy who tries to obtain his power from his wife in an abusive manner. In it, Slim and Mitch Miller are newlyweds seemingly in love with a prosperous future ahead of them. However, the honeymoon quickly ends when Mitch becomes abusive. He becomes increasingly controlling of his and his son’s environment, isolating Slim from his friends and potential supporters. He eventually starts having an affair. Between finding out about the affair and Slim’s desire to protect her daughter from Mitch’s abuse, he leaves her house with her son only for Mitch to pursue her relentlessly. Mitch’s obsession with controlling and belittling his wife, having an affair, and seeming entitlement to that affair are symptoms of a mama’s boy using abuse to try to get his power from women.
What about witnessing a father’s son and a mother’s daughter in a movie? Are any of those available? Yes!
In the movie You’ve Got Mail, you find a mother’s daughter and a father’s son in action. Kathleen Kelly is her mother’s daughter and followed her in owning and managing her mother’s children’s bookstore. Joe Foxx is her father’s son, having succeeded his father in owning and managing the family business, Foxx Books.
The next time you watch You’ve Got Mail, pay attention to how Joe and Kathleen handle their relationships. Joe doesn’t push or pull the women in his life. And the women in his life don’t treat him like a little boy. Kathleen doesn’t care for the men in her life like little boys. Although Frank, the man in his life when the movie begins, may be a mama’s boy, Kathleen doesn’t care for him that way. And when her life throws her a serious curve ball, with the loss of her business, she pushes herself hard and takes care of herself. The film makes it clear that the resource she draws on is her relationship with her deceased mother.
In Open Range you will find a character who is probably the son of a father. Charley Waite is a middle-aged cowboy and former gunfighter who enjoys the last few years of freely grazing his cattle in the open range. He is a man who has never been married and apparently has not had much contact with the opposite sex. When he meets and falls in love with Sue Barlow, he doesn’t quite know how to let her know of his growing love and interest. Her attempts to tell him that he finds her attractive are awkward, but attractive.
In the end he approaches her, hat in hand, offering her marriage and a kind of leadership as an old-fashioned, macho husband. Sue is also middle-aged and has never been married. She is too wise and brave about life to try to pretend to be the little wife whose husband protects her from harm. She challenges Charley to meet her as one adult to another. He is man enough to rise to the challenge, and the film ends with the promise that her spirited romance is just beginning.
Speaking of spirited romances, Bull Durham gives the viewer a bird’s-eye view of a mama’s boy and a father’s son searching for the same woman. In this movie, there is a love triangle that forms around Crash Davis, an experienced baseball catcher, Annie Savoy, the team’s biggest fan, and Nuke LaLoosh, the team’s new young rookie.
Although Crash and Annie prove their mutual attraction at the beginning of the film, Crash quickly steps aside for Nuke and Annie to do their thing. He is too experienced, both on and off the field, and too self-sufficient to waste his energy competing with the high-strung “cub” that Nuke surely is.
Annie has a habit of signing one ballplayer a year which she helps to mature. She says, “There’s never been a ballplayer who’s slept with me who hasn’t had the best year of his career… There’s a certain amount of life wisdom that I give these guys. I can expand their minds… I make them feel safe and they make me feel safe and pretty.” As such, she puts herself in the position of Mama to her chosen ballplayer and lets him be her Child.
The first night he meets Nuke and Crash, he invites them over to his house, where he sits them down and explains the rules. “I hang out with one guy a season. It usually takes me a couple of weeks to pick the guy. It’s kind of my own spring training. And, well, you two are the most promising prospects of the season so far. So I just thought we should try to get to know each other.” Crash stops her right there. He wants to know why she chooses. Why not one of the men? She continues with quantum physics and how no one can really choose anyone. Crash gets up to leave. Annie asks where she is going.
Crash replies, “After twelve years in the minor leagues, I don’t test. Also, I don’t believe in quantum physics when it comes to matters of the heart.”
“What do you believe then?” Annie asks.
As he puts on his coat to leave, Crash responds with one of the most famous movie speeches that ends with these words: “…and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days. Good. -evening.”
Annie breathes, “Oh my.” She then chases him out the door to tell him that she just wants to date, not fall in love with her. Crash tells her, “I’m not interested in a woman who’s interested in that boy. Good night.”
When Nuke hits the big leagues and leaves town, Crash makes himself available to reconsider the chemistry that was and is still evident between him and Annie. At that point, he asks her to introduce herself as an adult to join the dance with another adult. It’s overkill for her, but she’s woman enough to accept the challenge.
Movies are a great way to attend mini-workshops to witness the ramifications of being blind to the mama boy/daddy girl dance and the relative ease of the father son/mother daughter dance!