The Tyrant Mother

Muslim Matters

The Tyrant Mother

By Elder George

The tyrant mother—an issue that reached major proportion in the 20th century—has affected human relationships throughout the Westernized world. The tyrant mother has existed since the earliest of times, however, the proliferation of this condition has resulted in a modern phenomenon that needs to be addressed and corrected. And soon!

The dictionary defines tyrant as an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or constitution. The tyrant mother has absolute authority in a home devoid of the masculine influence. Put another way, an ordinary woman who raises children without the presence of an effective masculine figure becomes a tyrant mother. The word effective is stressed, for a weak or ineffective man is worse than no man at all. Many women have come to this realization and have opted to raise children without living with their fathers. Unfortunately, they most likely have become tyrant mothers.

It is easy to spot the tyrant mother; she will berate her children in public, smack them around, and scream at them, or she might have them under such control that they won’t make a move without her permission. Tyrant mothers have been depicted in African-American films such as; Boyz N The Hood, Mo Betta Blues, and Do the Right Thing. In Boyz, Ice Cube’s mother kicks his butt and yells at him frequently. Was she a bad woman? No. She had made an outdoor barbecue for the teenagers in the neighborhood. She did what most women do – nurture the race. But she wasn’t designed to discipline two teenage boys in a tough neighborhood; that’s what men are supposed to do. In Mo Betta Blues, Denzel Washington’s father was a nice guy, a dandy. He was also ineffective. Mom had to be the disciplinarian. In Do the Right Thing the tyrant mother smacked her son all over the street. As these films accurately depicted, children of the tyrant mother rarely do well.

In his novel, Portnoy’s Complaint, author Philip Roth described the negative effects of being raised by a tyrant mother, but the critics and society didn’t recognize it as such. They thought the problems resulted from the influence of dominant Jewish mothers. The issue of the tyrant mother is no more Jewish than it is African-American, or Latin, or Asian. Tyrant mothers come in all flavors, religions and ethnicities. They have one thing in common—the absence of a competent masculine presence in the home.

One of the many meanings of the story of Adam and Eve is that Eve paid the price of Adam not fulfilling his responsibilities. Women always pay the price when men do not fulfill their responsibilities. The failure of Western man to recognize his function as the head of the family has resulted in the frustration of mothers, the neglect and abuse of children, and the dissolution of the family.

The first massive wave of tyrant mothers came into being early last century, when men working long hours and gone from the home 12 to 14 hours a day six days a week, didn’t live at home; they just ate and slept there. Mom did everything else. She also became a tyrant. However, the major development of the tyrant mother was in the last third of the century, when the government’s “Great Society” legislation emasculated the male by removing him outright from the home or leaving him with no authority in it. The results have been devastating to society.

Elder George’s website:; Phone: 212-874-7900 ext. 1329.


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