Why Do Indian Women ‘Mother’ Their Men?

Last updated 12 Jun 2018 . 1 min read

being a mother being a mother

Why do we want to care till we cure a man? This is something which entices a lot of us. In those moments, nurturing a man seems to make us more of a woman. I fell for it too.

I was conditioned to believe it is part of a woman’s biological need, to play mother to, and take care of, the man. That is what makes us great and is part of the eternal love brouhaha. To play this predestined role of a nurturer and caregiver is our thing.  

In my relationships, and an erstwhile marriage, I have mothered my boyfriends, lovers and husband.

There was this one time where I told the man, “I can’t take it anymore, I am not your mother.” The guy retorted, “Why can’t you be like my mother, right now?” I fell silent when I heard those words.

That night, I had an epiphany.

Affection, compassion, love and giving are essentials of all relationships, true. But every time I have crossed that line and given into mothering a man in my life uncontrollably, it has totally blown in my face. That is when I have had to deal with tantrums, disrespect, being taken for granted and faced physical violence. This mothering left me exhausted. Giving at the cost my own sanity and peace, my needs were mitigated completely.  My desires were no more a priority. Suppressing my emotions to accommodate my partner’s moods was the norm. Knowingly, I was taken for a ride and played around.   

I stopped that day. I refrained from wanting to raise my man like a little boy.

In a relationship, if nurturing means the woman’s back is rammed against a wall till she loses herself, there is no space left and she is owned. She is devoid of any air to breathe and self-preservation has gone for a toss. It is time to stop and become aware. Can a person take care of anyone else under these conditions? Did she sign up for this?

Women cross that line and can’t comprehend when it becomes toxic.

As I contemplated, I perceived the reasons why we fall prey to mothering men, and how we need to watch out for them.

Here are some poignant ones:

“Mommy” is my favorite toy.

Most Indian boys are raised to be alpha males. Boys don’t cry, or show signs of emotion; they suppress feelings or sentiments. However, there is one equation where they are allowed to be vulnerable--with their mothers. “Mama-ing is serious business; because mama will always remain his favorite toy,” says Arundhuti Bhattacharya, a gourmet baker.

Playing mommy is perceived as a window or chance to win the man’s heart. Women fight and work to occupy this space in their man’s life. This is her way to receive and be showered with similar unadulterated and authentic love.

Haggling for love won’t last you long. Next time when you pick a partner, go for someone who is emotionally available and not scared of loving you.

Power play

Relationships bring out a lot of power play. One wants their love to keep the other overpowered. That gives power.

Historically, women have been bereft of real power and essentially kept insecure, vulnerable and deprived. So this power in relationships is their only real chance of sorts for any prudence, jurisdiction or control over their own life. Mothers have a lot of power over their sons. History, science and epics can vouch for that as a truth.  

"Motherhood is still considered the epitome of femininity. Mothering the man of her life means supreme femininity, which gives some the ultimate power," says Aparna Ghosh, a homemaker.

Yes, it may buy you power in your relationship momentarily, but don’t forget--it can backfire where your man becomes overtly demanding, needy, possessive and cantankerous.  A constantly bawling child (aka, your man) won’t remain in your control for long and will not be so much fun then.

Fix you.

Self esteem or worth is a grey area for a lot of Indian women. They only get amplified or established when it comes from external factors like people, society and material things. “We want to be closer to our guy and we do like to fix things,” says Nneha Biswas, a fashion designer

“I think we are natural givers and we love to give. It gives us immense satisfaction to take on other people's stress and baggage. We need to not do it for our own sanity. It’s time we invest in ourselves; be compassionate, yet a certain detachment is essential. We think we can fix everything, but that’s not our job,” adds Kamayani Bandhu Kaul, an alternative healing practitioner

There is an inherent need to prove one’s own worth to others, especially men. When women fix things, take care of, feed and tend to the needs of a man, this develops their own value in the man’s life. We need to put an end to this right away.

The ultimate way to love

“Women mother their men because men innately are first connected and treated like babies by their mothers. The lady in their life always likes to replace the man's mother. A lot of men like this supervision. Sometimes they want to be loved and pampered like their mothers do. They always expect someone to pull them up when they fall, and their ladies are always the first to do that,” says Ankita Chakravorty, an associate vice president at an MNC bank.

“Women find themselves mothering their husbands because of societal pressures to be the ultimate woman. We've been taught that the way to show love is to do for others,” says Pepper Schwartz, a sociology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. And, according to Schwartz, some women believe that the more they nurture, the better a woman they are.

It’s all good, warm, fuzzy and a sure relationship builder, till it is not just one person who is the giver and other a taker. It is all good if it is not at the cost of one’s own self, and where both equally put their own self first, time to time.

So ask yourself, do you have boundaries? Will you resist playing mommy to your partner, boyfriend or husband? What are your reasons for playing mommy?

I stopped, and it is remarkably great to date real grown up men and not little brats.  

image not our own

Piyali Dasgupta
A writer and an educator with expertise in experiential learning,capacity building, counselling & content development. A feminist, wit addict and time/life traveler. She loves trees, water bodies, vintage,cooking and arts

Share the Article :