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How to mother boys to make them good husbands?

(29 Posts)
Beccaboo2345 Sun 07-Nov-10 17:08:33

There are many posts on the AIBU board about MILs and it often seems the case that sons cannot stand up to their unreasonable mothers and support their wives who do not seem to be unreasonable.

As the mother of 2 young boys, I hope someday to be a MIL and grandparent but I am really keen to get that difficult balance right so my son/future DIL/SIL will value their relationship with me and not be stifled/annoyed/stressed. I would like my sons to be able to tell me if I am crossing a line; just like I can with my own mother.

What should I be aware of now in the way I mother my boys?

Is a difficult MIL relationship inevitable? My own MIL winds me up a lot although compared to some she is great but the relationship certainly isn't easy .... And this is 20 years down the line!

MikaelBlomkvist Sun 07-Nov-10 17:11:05

Or you could ask: how to smother boys to make them not good husbands. grin

These days I think we are more "aware" of psychological issues. And thankfully there are now books on how to be a halfway decent MIL.

GypsyMoth Sun 07-Nov-10 17:17:02

I prefer to bring my boys up to be good partners....... Not assuming they want to be 'husbands' , one read of relationships threads on here would put them off for life!!

inthesticks Sun 07-Nov-10 17:24:36

It's my only sad about having boys.
That some day I will lose them to their DW in a way that mums of girls do not.
My boys are loving and affectionate and I would love to know how to bring them up to retain that relationship with me. Not of course the same thing as teaching them to be good husbands. A good father role model is probably the best thing for that.
My MIL was sweet old lady and DH had a loving relationship with her and yet it was always me who had to nag prompt him to ring or visit her.

rainbowinthesky Sun 07-Nov-10 17:27:46

Role models. Could be a father who is an equal partner in the upbringing and running of household and/or a mother who isnt a door mat and is an independent woman who, if with a partner, expects respect and an equal relationship.

ChickensHaveNoLips Sun 07-Nov-10 17:35:15

I have two boys and am trying to bring them up to be good people. I have given no thought to them as husband's/fathers tbh. I think that you can bring someone up to be a decent human being, but how they behave as an adult is to some degree a choice. Otherwise you're almost saying that if a man is a shitbag it's his mum's fault hmm If my boys grow up to be lousy husbands, I won't be standing at the front of the blame queue, I will be putting them at the front.

JamieLeeCurtis Sun 07-Nov-10 17:51:39

I think that modelling good communication and equality with your own partner is very important, as rainbow says.

encouraging emotional expressiveness, and listening to them...

Making them independent and practical - not doing things for them which they can do themselves. Getting them to do chores

Constance39 Sun 07-Nov-10 17:54:18

Forgive me for the tangent but I was looking at this in AC and thought, would there be a counterpart thread about bringing up girls to make them 'good wives'?

How would that work? (genuine wondering!)

nooka Sun 07-Nov-10 17:58:17

Totally agree with Chickens there. Bring your children up to be happy and giving people and you should be fine. I think it is a total myth that sons are automatically more distant than daughters as soon as they get married. It's an odd sort of idea that mothers have to be in competition with their wives. In my family my brother is far more doting towards my parents (and why just mothers? don't fathers count) than any of us girls. It's personality and relationships that are important, not gender.

There is a difference when your children have children, where there is something about your own child having the same experience as you did when bringing her into the world, but otherwise I think it is unwise to assume that daughters will be more devoted. I think to be honest that's just a bit of societal programming, when it was assumed that daughters woudl be available to look after their parents when they got old. Or perhaps that sons didn't really have any responsibilities because they are men.

Thistledew Sun 07-Nov-10 18:05:15

inthesticks- why would you 'lose' your son to his DW? You are not in competition with her and there is no reason that such a relationship would change his relationship with you.

My DP has a great relationship with his (lovely) mother. I would say that it is a very similar relationship that I have with my own mum. Our relationship has not changed the way he interacts with her.

DP is also a great partner who does his share of the household chores.

inthesticks Sun 07-Nov-10 19:19:33

Not very scientific I know, but it's just my feeling that my women friends retain more contact with their mothers than their partners do.
Also friends with grown up children tell me their sons don't keep in touch as often as their daughters.

Curlybrunette Sun 07-Nov-10 21:18:02

I see what you are saying here inthesticks, I've got 2 little boys and worry about the day when they turn to their partners/wives before they turn to me. I know this is inevitable and I aren't saying I want them to be living at home forever with me doing everything for them but I am very close to my parents (probably closer than dh is to his, although they are fab and I absolutely love them to bits and they think of me as a daughter) but when we got engaged I wanted to tell my parents first, when we got pregnant, again my parents and sister were told first.
I worry that at some point I'm going to be second best. Probably silly I know, but probably true...


booyhoo Sun 07-Nov-10 21:19:51

how about just making them good people?

MadameSin Mon 08-Nov-10 09:10:38

Read 'Raising Boys' by Steve Biddulph .... it takes you right through to teen years explaining how to help make them happy, confident young men - should be plain sailing from there! smile

Snorbs Mon 08-Nov-10 09:24:51

I'm with you constance. There's something slightly icky to me about "making boys good husbands" in the same way that "making girls good wives" feels wrong. And while I can see the point of the OP about what is seen in the relationships threads it's also worth looking at the huge number of "My mother/sister/MIL/SIL are treating me like crap!" threads, too.

I want my DS and my DD to be good, happy people who respect other people as human beings and who have the confidence to value themselves. I have no specific interest in raising either of them to be a good husband or wife.

Guacamole Mon 08-Nov-10 09:28:02

I agree with almost everything said... however on a separate note, my DH can't seem to do anything for himself. He can't cook, can't iron, has only just worked out the washing machine, he can't even drive (he's 33). When he does stuff, as in attempts to fix things, or put up a picture etc... They take him weeks to complete. I put this down to him being overly smothered and to a certain extent fathered. His sister is just as bad, she is 36 and her Dad still takes her for her weekly food shopping (she also cannot drive).
I intend to release my DS into the world with better survival skills, I will try and teach him how to look after himself, how to cook, iron and clean is just for starters!

BeenBeta Mon 08-Nov-10 09:45:37

I actually think the main issue with boys is teaching them not to be lazy.

Before I went to university, I had never cooked a meal, never ironed, used a washing machine or cleaned a house but I do it all now and always have. I have never expected DW to look after me.

I had always been expected to work extremely hard both at school and at home doing chores on the family farm when I was a child/teen. Not to expect someone else to deliver the basic necessities and comforts of life on a plate without any effort on MY part.

A boy that leaves the family home expecting someone else to look after them will carry that through to his adult relationships.

There are other things like respect for other people and not resolving issues with fists but self reliance and not being lazy are really important for us and somethng we demand from our two DSs.

cornonthecob Tue 09-Nov-10 08:42:40

very good post Beenbeta

My dh mother did everything for him, down to paying his car insurance if he kept putting it off! thankfully, he's a changed man now, but its taken a lot of hard work and patience on my part! have to say I have a lot of underlying anger towards my MIL for not teaching my dh to be more self reliant etc and that I had to in no better word "teach" him! imho it wasn't my job, but I loved him... so we do what we do and I don't see my MIL!

DuelingFanjo Tue 09-Nov-10 08:46:17

This would be a great thread for whatsisname...matthew Wright! grin

I think bring them up as people and to respect that women are just people too!

I find it odd when people say their DH can't cook and doesn't know how to use the washing machine! How did that happen? Surely it's not enough to blame their mothers, doesn't the way their wives behave also have an impact?

Snorbs Tue 09-Nov-10 09:22:19

I think if a grown man can't cook or operate a washing machine it's a bit peculiar - and might I venture a little sexist? - to "blame" his mother. Sure, if he's a teenager it's a bit different but by the time he's in his 20s he would have had lots of opportunity to learn if he could be arsed.

Using a washing machine isn't rocket science provided you can read the instructions or simply ask someone for a few tips. Learning to cook isn't hard provided you can read, count and measure.

If an adult man can't be arsed to learn a few basic techniques to look after himself it's no-one's fault but his own, surely.

DuelingFanjo Tue 09-Nov-10 09:54:38

I agree, he's probably doing it on purpose ;)

my work mate says her husband can't cook, bless him!

Whippet Tue 09-Nov-10 10:12:56

I have two boys 10 & 8 and I sometimes wonder if I do too much for them, and therefore don't teach them enough independence.
I've been consciously trying to get them to do more recently - whether it's tidying up after themselves or putting dishwasher on. I also taught DS1 to iron, and the basics of using the washing machine.

I think you need to teach all those things as usual, normal, ordinary things for boys /men to do when the kids are still young. If you leave it until they are older then it will be harder to suddenly train them/change habits.

DH is not too bad at modelling good behaviour, but soemtimes I need to 'pull him up' on it too, for e.g. if he gets up from the table and tries to disappear without clearing up.

I agree with the teaching them to be people rather than DHs etc. It depends a bit on their emotional intelligence - how easily they 'read' other people in social situations. DS2 (8) is great at this, and will notice that 'X upset Y because he said...' DS1 is not so good and won't understand why a friend is being moody with him, until we point out that it might be because he let them down, or was a bit rude (unintentionally). I end up having more conversations with DS1 trying to help him recognise body language/ signs of people's responses etc.

MamaVoo Tue 09-Nov-10 10:19:57

Going off on a tangent a bit, but aren't the women who worry about losing their sons and being second best (and worry about this while their DS's are still small children), the ones who are going to find it harder to accept a new woman into their son's lives when the time comes?

Surely a good relationship with your DIL is the way to stay close to your DS?

As an only child I really hope that DS will have a partner, and a family of his own, who come first to him. I don't want him just to have me!

nooka Wed 10-Nov-10 06:45:50

Curly, have a read through your post again. The things you cite (getting engaged, pregnant) involved your dh before your parents. When you find your life partner they come first, whether you are male or female (or they certainly should) at least until you have children of your own. Surely it is a sign that something is wrong with your relationship if you turn to your parent before your partner?

Otherwise the skills that people are talking about here are exactly the same skills as any parent should teach a daughter. The answer being, treat your boys in the same way as your girls, and you are likley to have similar relationships with them when they grow up (personalities notwithstanding), and also to do a good job in turning out functioning adults ( I expect my children on leaving home to be able to look after themselves otherwise I'd not think that dh and I had done a very good job).

mollycuddles Wed 10-Nov-10 07:00:32

Definitely make sure they're self sufficient. Ds is naturally quite lazy - I'm not saying this is gender related. Dd1 is less so. They are how they are. I push ds hard to get him to do stuff from homework to chores. He does a lot of the family washing (he's 12). His sister will be expected to do more when she's older. She's 9 at the moment. They both keep their rooms tidy or there are sanctions. They have to put their own clothes away once washed. They both help with dd2 - she's 5 months. They have both changed nappies. I think it's really important to encourage self sufficiency so neither of them are ever desperate for a partner. If these skills help them be a better partner when they find someone good enough then that's a bonus but not the reason to teach them these things iyswim.

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