About ninety percent of my coaching clients are young men in their twenties. Their adult lives up to this point have followed a very predictable script: They did well in high school. After that, they spent countless hours pouring over University brochures and websites until they secured admission to one of their liking. They then racked up tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, in order to learn gobs of useless academic garbage and left-wing socialist crap. Befuddled and confused, these young men had no other option other than to crash-land back at their parents’ house with a pile of debt and no career or any marketable skills. The University system offers many degrees and “career paths,” unfortunately only a very small number of them bear fruit in the form of real, paying careers.
I know this story well because it was also my story. Please do yourself a favor and, whatever step in the process you’re on, take a moment and learn from my own mistakes. If you graduated from a University with zero marketable skills to show for it, then that system has failed you. Period. The federal government has taken upon itself, under the auspices that “all education is good education,” to ensure guaranteed student loans to any American that wants one. University students live out their wildest partying fantasies, indulging in alcoholism, noncommittal sexual behavior and enmeshing themselves in immature and ultimately doomed relationships with scatterbrained college-age girls.
In any prior civilization, the age of twenty-two would be the hallmark of becoming an adult and of manhood. It would be expected that you would be the head of a household by that age, that you would already be skilled in a craft or trade, that you would know the basics of finance and be responsible with money, that you would know how to fight in defense of your society, and that you would have selected a suitable wife.
Alas, today is the age of the Lost Boys.
As with most issues in life, the problem of nonexistent manhood in our culture has multiple causes. Many of us grew up with absent fathers. I use the term “absent fathers” loosely, because whether your father was absent physically, mentally or emotionally, the results are quite often the same. When the natural, nurturing bonds of mother and child remain unbroken, the result is the continual sabotaging of the child’s development. A boy learns to be physically, emotionally and mentally dependent rather than independent and competent.
Freud called this problem “The Oedipus Complex.” The Oedipus Complex is THE quintessential male wound. I believe that most of the issues relating to stunted masculinity has the latent Oedipus Complex at its heart. I wrote an extensive blog post on the Oedipus Complex, entitled How the Oedipus Complex Destroys Men. It remains my most popular post by far and has been used by professional psychotherapists in their practices.
It is important to mention the Oedipus Complex in this “educated with no job” life-script, because it plays an insidious role in the whole thing. Why is returning home to live with your parent(s) for years on end even a viable option, if not for the nurturing, smothering, “I’ll always take care of you” influence of your caretaking and Oedipal mother?
It doesn’t really matter if your father was present in the household or not. What matters is whether you received the input of masculine energies as-required for your own initiation into manhood. What does that mean? It simply means that a proper father-figure is meant to give you “tough love,” to give you a nudge out of the door. Fathers that tell their sons that they must move out by a certain timeframe are doing their sons a world of good.
I could write an entire book on the Oedipus Complex and the harm that it does to men, but my goal in this book is to keep it focused and immediately useable. The Oedipus Complex is nothing more than the nurturing and protective actions and impulses that a mother does to protect her children. This is, of course, vitally necessary when you were an infant, as you were literally defenseless at that tender age. As you grew and developed, however, defensiveness becomes a serious impediment to your autonomy and growth. Children need to be able to exercise and explore their autonomy at a young age, and progressively more so at each developmental stage.
Ancient wisdom surrounding the issues with the Oedipus Complex dates back to the earliest tribal societies. These societies knew that the motherly caretaking relationship must be severed otherwise it would be continued well into physical adulthood. The women of early tribal cultures were wise enough to be aware of this. Often times, at around the age of six, the boy would be “kidnapped” by the men of the village in an elaborate “shock and awe” ritual. He was taken and inducted into the male tribe, where he was challenged to learn things and ultimately act to on his own.
We can’t have a civilization comprised entirely of dependent man-children. It is little wonder why false and harmful ideologies like socialism and communism are enjoying a revitalized popularity. As Dr. Jordan Peterson has stated, we are taught to see the government as the caretaking Oedipal Mother. “It’s not your fault or responsibility, you’re a little baby – a victim. Let me take care of you forever.”
I have had dozens of coaching clients. It never fails to amaze me at how consistent and common their stories are. We have young men who, perhaps by no fault of their own, believed in the phony University-as-preparation-for-life script. They crash-landed back at their mommy’s home, where they are ready to be taken care of, fed, have their privacy violated and their underwear washed by somebody else.
There always seems to be an elaborate system of excuses and rewards that keep these guys stuck. “I’m doing it to save money,” they say, “it’s the wise thing to do.” Their Oedipal Mother wants nothing more than to indulge her own feelings of loneliness and depression, so she participates in the brainwashing and further stunting of her own son’s development. “You don’t want to move out, that’s dangerous,” she says. “That’s not a good idea to move away,” she says. “What if you run out of money,” she says. “Take my advice, I’m older and wiser,” she says.
I often find in my coaching that I run up against a wall when dealing with my clients. In some manner, they feel that trading their already-stunted manhood for a rent-free existence and mom-cooked meals is somehow a good deal. I always tell them the same thing, there is nothing in the world more precious to me than my manhood and independence. I would rather go dumpster-diving and live out of my car than move in with my parents again. It’s not that my parents are monsters, although yes, they are damaged and dysfunctional. It is difficult for me to convince these guys that it is worth it to work two or three jobs and get roommates if that means they can move out and live their own lives on their terms.
Yes, living on your own without a solid career is difficult. The jobs that you’ll be working when you’re just starting out aren’t fun, but that’s the whole point of initiation. Initiation isn’t supposed to be fun and it isn’t comfortable - it is trial by fire. You are learning how to be independent by doing it. You are not hiding behind your mother’s apron-strings, thereby deluding yourself that you will, as Dr. Robert Glover says in his book No More Mr. Nice Guy, do everything right and live a problem-free life.”
It is disgusting to me that people believe in such a lie as “doing everything right and living a problem-free life.” It is even more heinous that there are parents that perpetuate this lie, when their motivations are simply to control their children, stunt their son’s growth and sabotage their development into men.
I had one coaching client who had a very close-knit family. He had a life-script handed to him directly from his parents. “Stay home and save money, it’s the smart thing to do.” He was twenty-four years old, highly intelligent and capable. He seemed perplexed and guilty that he was prone to having rage and anxiety attacks. I suggested that this repressed rage was actually the healthy part of him trying to set itself free. His manhood was the eight-hundred-pound gorilla locked in a cage. It’s no wonder to me why he felt the way that he did. His mother would burst into his bedroom without knocking (mine did this too), planned his entire life out for him, and would obligate him in to doing this thing or that thing. Everything he wanted to do in life warranted a “discussion” or a “debate,” and sure-as-shit, his mother was full of rationalizations as to why any thought of independence was “unwise” and had to be discouraged and squashed immediately.
Let me ask you a question: How much would you be willing to accept in money if I could cut off your right leg? Obviously, your ability to walk, run, hike and swim and otherwise enjoy life as a bipedal human being hasn’t got a price attached to it. It’s life, and life is priceless.
Manhood is much like that. It is a priceless quality. Men who give this up in exchange for saving some money and living rent-free don’t know what they are giving up. They end up being spiritually deflated, psycho-emotionally castrated, sick and angry.
There is no running away from manhood – either you express it and do what it bids you to do with your life, or you repress it and live with the shameful consequences. All too often, I hear young men resulting to self-blame for their own “negative” emotions. They run to new-age bookstores and convince themselves that they are “enlightened.” They try to “meditate the anger away.” They convince themselves that they don’t ever need to lose their virginity or move out of mommy’s house after all.
Bullshit. Avoidance. Excuses.
You didn’t have a father-figure with enough wisdom or caring to usher you out of the nest. Your father didn’t tell you that you had to take the necessary steps to live on your own. So, it is now time for responsibility to kick in. You have to do it by yourself, to yourself. My clients often hit a sticking-point here because they are met with heavy resistance from their parent(s), as well as the internalized resistance and fear that comes with a lifetime of Oedipal brainwashing.
The whole point of manhood is that you don’t have to ask anybody for permission. I don’t share my plans about anything with anyone if they are going to respond with discouraging comments or negativity.
Your enabling, overbearing, boundary-violating Oedipal Mother has a vested interest in keeping you at home. The first step to leaving the roost is to leave. If you feel guilty about it, or are met with guilt-laden resistance or shaming tactics, that is only further evidence of your family’s dysfunction.
Young adults should be encouraged to be independent and move the fuck out. If there’s one thing I can’t fucking stand, it is a twenty-something that is working away on some “business idea” while living at home with his fucking mother. Who the hell are these parents that would indulge their children in such schemes?! Of course, all of this is Oedipal, as the Oedipus Complex also has a kind of flattery to it. “You’re so special,” your mother says, “you’re my little genius,” she says, “you’re too smart to get a regular job,” she says.
I call these young men “Oedipeneurs,” which is my own portmanteau of “Oedipus” and “entrepreneur.” I don’t want to hear about the exceptional cases about the eighteen-year-old “wonder boy” who made a million dollars on Shopify from of his parents’ basement. I’ve known people like this, and million dollars or not, they’re still zit-faced underdeveloped fucking asshole human beings. They never act like men because they never learned how to be men. Remember what I said about manhood not having a price?
Oedipeneurs think they can skip steps, never work a regular day in their lives, and go from zero to billionaire without ever enduring a single hardship in life. Avoidance of hardship is anti-masculine. It is weak pussy-talk. It is avoidance of growth and initiation. Any male who actively avoids hardship and difficulty is doomed to be stuck in boyhood forever until he takes the proper steps to correct his false lifestyle.
A danger of being an Oedipeneur is that you may never grow out of it. The Oedipus Complex does not relate strictly to the relationship between mother and son. Most men simply find parity in their relationships with women, meaning they look for women who will nurture and take care of them as their mothers once did.
Here’s a personal example. My father is nearly eighty years old. When he was in high school, he was an intelligent and gifted young man who liked to invent things and tinker with electronics in his parents’ garage. His mother was a narcissistic monster, and my father really got both sides of the Oedipal coin. When his mother wasn’t lambasting him and calling him “worthless” she was also smothering him and stroking his ego. Narcissistic Oedipal mothers do this so as to strengthen the bonds of enmeshment and control that they have with their sons. “You’re my little genius,” she would say, “you’re way too smart for any regular job.” Today he’s approaching eighty years old and has been married five times. All of his failed marriages followed the same pattern: he looked for women with stable jobs so that he could hide in their garages (or spare bedrooms, kitchens, whatever) and tinker away on one random project or another. He calls himself an “entrepreneur” although he has never read a single book on business theory or management. He has failed to reach any degree of success or financial stability. “I’m too smart for all that” he thinks, “I’m too good to learn anything or take any advice.”
Of course, there is nothing wrong with being business-minded and entrepreneurial. All of the successful businessmen that you have heard of have worked jobs and have had real careers. From these experiences, they learned how businesses operate from the inside-out. Most importantly of all, they didn’t live off of their parents in the meanwhile. They worked because they had to work. Will your parents be around forever?
Move out! This advice is not just for stay-at-home twenty-somethings. Men in dead-end marriages should also move out. Men who have accepted lives of mediocrity, or realized that they are living with a controlling, narcissistic or Oedipal woman should also nut-up and move out.
Manhood is empowering. Manhood is independent. You are not a man unless you have the freedom to say “no” to things, enjoy your life on your terms and forge your own path in life without having to debate or argue with anyone.
Make a change for your own growth, it will make a MAN out of you!