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May 11, 2010

Learning to Empower my Son

Our sonImg5012kh0, Mack, who was born when I was 37, is now a junior in high school. Parenting is more challenging now because it is not about hands-on but hands-off; about how to be there but in the background; to hold a firm boundary but stay out of the space in between.  

Robert Bly wrote that for a mother to support her son in becoming a man, she must let herself be killed off but not die. It’s been a challenging learning curve for me, one which required me to look at myself and other family relationships more closely. Fortunately, I was introduced to the Family Constellation work of Bert Hellinger. In Constellation philosophy, which maps multi-generational family system dynamics and health, an adolescent son must leave Mom and bond with Dad to fully embody his masculinity. This past year, I have seen first-hand the truth and gift of truth.

Mack and I had spent a lot of time alone together due to my husband’s work. Dad was working out of the country often and for weeks at a time. I was doing what single parents do – juggling everything – and I counted on my son a lot – too much. We became pseudo-partners, which in the Constellation view is out of order. Healthy order is Mom and Dad, BIG, holding each other first; children are small and come second. Parents give, children take. Sounds simple, but easy to mess up when there’s no knowledge of systemic order. I knew we were messed up because as Mack got older, he became inexplicable more and more irritated, angry and disrespectful of me. During his puberty, our relationship went from being close and having fun to being painful for both of us. He didn’t understand his rejection and I didn’t understand where I’d gone wrong.

Through my Constellation work, I got an education in the laws of systemic health. I learned where I was out of order with my mother and so was repeating with my son. I saw how I had judged my mother and felt bigger than her. That lack of respect and connection blocked the flow of life and love to me, creating a void. Because I didn’t have my mother in my heart supporting me, my child unconsciously attempted to fill that space. This is just what I had done with her when I was young and then resented her for as I got older. As a young adult, I couldn’t even be around her without feeling ill. I was twisted in knots inside unable to explain it in any other way but that she didn’t like me. I resigned myself to never having a close relationship with my mother and moved across the country so I didn’t have to face it.

So, after integrating my constellation revelations and the new energy flowing with my mother (another story), I set things right with Mack.  I thanked him for all he’d tried to do for me and then fired him.  I told him that I could see how, without knowing it, he had been trying to take care of me and since that was not his job, he was angry and burdened.  I told him it was time to get close to his father and that we weren’t “friends” anymore.  I was his mother and he was just my son.  I showed him how I had my husband and my mother to resource me.  He could relax and receive.  My husband and I are closer, too. I let him be the authority with our son and it is good for their relationship.    Soon after I fired Mack, my mother came to visit.   As I enjoyed her and we shared time together, I could feel and see the relief in Mack.  He was lighter, happier and more affectionate.   We are all back in order now.  Life is more harmonious and love flows in an easy,  abundant way that is new to me and that I am grateful for every day.

This is an original post to 50-Something Moms Blog.

Leah loves supporting others through yoga and constellation work. You can find out more about what she's up to at .