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Mothers psychologically blackmail sons

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I was told of a story by a workmate of his cousin who is so tormented by his mother he has since moved residence and changed jobs. . . and he has not informed his mother about it.

The young man is a university graduate with a very promising career, but his mother has become a thorn in the flesh as she demands so much money every month as if he is the only working child.

He was raised by his maternal and paternal relatives when his father died and he attained a good education, but the distress his mother is causing him has destroyed the mother-son relationship.

This woman would come to Harare from Murehwa towards his pay day and demand ridiculous amounts of money. The last time the woman visited her son she was demanding $300. Her son only managed to give her $200, but she complained bitterly.

But what surprised one of his cousins who accompanied her to an abattoir in Dzivaresekwa is that she produced $500 to buy meat much to the amazement of the butchers.

What annoyed the son is that his mother actually came in the company of her male companion who is believed to be feasting on this young man’s income.

So incensed is the young man that he does not want to see his mother anymore and hence the reason why he has kept his new job and new home a secret to the entire family. He is fed up and wishes he could leave Zimbabwe to some overseas country.

His mother has in the past few months been harassing some of his close cousins about his whereabouts and they have refused to divulge that information.

But the funny thing is that she will still go to the abattoir to buy more meat and go back to sell it in her village. She has the money, but she just wants more and more.

What mostly annoyed him was her constant appearances at his workplace which made him appear as though he was an irresponsible man.

“The woman is such a pain and we have actually told the young man not to give in to her demands because that was making him miserable. He has failed to buy his own furniture because his mother pitches up unexpectedly and demands all sorts of monies,” said one of his cousins.

“Why is she forcing him to look after her and her boyfriend? His father died decades ago and he was brought up by relatives and what his mother is doing is unfair. It is absurd.”

What will happen if this young man decides to marry his longtime sweetheart? Your guess is as good as mine.

I also know of a close associate whose mother blackmailed him so much that his marriage became so rocky that it fell apart.

His mum would phone everyday from Kwekwe asking for many things and this man would jump up to her demands that forced him to drive up and down the Harare–Bulawayo Road taking groceries and other items, sometimes two or three times a month.

This was so strenuous for him particularly in 2008 when the economy was bleeding for foreign currency that resulted in an economic meltdown. His mother was a widow, but had other children who had good jobs and it was everybody’s wonder she always targeted him.

He developed hypertension and almost died from a stroke. His marriage was on the rocks because of his mother, who unfortunately died in 2009. That death renewed their marriage vows and they are now happy again.

A report by Lamaro Schoenleber, which I read on the Internet last night said parents who blackmail their children emotionally are often compensating for deficiencies in other areas of their lives. He said this can take many forms.

For example, some mothers tend to cling onto their sons. What looks like devoted love could be a form of blackmail.

Such a mother wants to have the say in everything her son does, even choosing his friends. If she does not like someone, she subtly signals this to her son and he may have to break the contact, even if there is nothing essentially wrong with the friend.

Any activity or decision taken without her is considered a slight and she may punish him by withdrawing warmth or love or approval temporarily.

In many cases, such a mother is compensating for an adult relationship — such as a marriage — which does not fulfill her emotional needs.

She reacts by giving her son a larger and larger place in her life, until he is the centre of her world. This could also be a way of punishing the offending father or husband.

With this devotion comes elevated expectations and responsibilities. The son is required to be responsible for his mother’s emotional well-being like a husband should be, and has little opportunity to explore relationships with members of the opposite sex.

His mother may find fault with every woman he brings home. There may be nothing essentially wrong with the women; it is just that she would be afraid of losing her exclusive place in her son’s life. If he does marry, she may want to continue controlling vital areas of his life.

Let’s get talking on this topic and send your feedback to rmapimhidze@newsday.co.zw

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