For those of us who studied Freud’s Oedipus complex in a far distant psychology class, the coming of this developmental phase may make you cringe or worry as a mother. Will my son really want to kill his own father so that he can marry me and possess me? Fortunately, as with most of Freud’s theories, the Oedipus phase was blown way out of proportion. Parents of the world, you can relax!
For the past few months my oldest son, who’s now four and a half, has often mentioned that he wants to marry me. He seems to understand that I can’t be married to two people at once (at least that’s what we’re teaching him!) so he’s requested that I not be married to his dad anymore. Very cute. And very harmless. Last Thanksgiving we found out that he “married” one of his girl classmates, but now he’s apparently ready for someone a little more mature. Alright, a LOT more mature. And he doesn’t seem to take no for an answer.
Together we recently read a very cute book called “Mad at Mommy” by Komako Sakai, and the illustrations below are a lovely interpretation of the phase every four-year-old-something boy goes through.
We tend to say no to our kids so many times a day, it has to be depressing for them. When it comes to the subject of marriage, I always let him down easy. I explain he just can’t marry me and that he’s too young to get married anyway. I remind him how much growing and learning he still has to do, until he’s old enough to marry someone closer to his own age. It doesn’t stop him from stating he wants to marry me on a weekly basis, and I actually admire his determination.
As for his need for physical affection, that’s the part I like best about being a parent. Physical affection is such a crucial part of a child’s development, so I make sure my son gets his daily dose of hugs and kisses. He’s also getting to be more affectionate with his younger brother, hugging him out of the blue, and holding his hand or putting his arm around his shoulder as they’re walking out and about. I get to witness best friends in the making.
As for his dad, he’s still alive and unhurt (except for the occasional kick in the groin). My son loves to do boy things with him, and I know his dad will get to play a bigger role as he grows up. As his mother, I’m not looking forward to the end of this phase, because I know what’s coming next. The day when I’ll take him to school and he’ll politely ask me not hug and kiss him in public. It’s hard being a mom.
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