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Sons whose lives are facilitated by their mothers - how to prevent it?

(67 Posts)
fluffyhamster Mon 13-Nov-17 14:09:52

I don't want to derail the other thread, so thought I'd start a different one...
I can't help feeling that the problem with men who expect to have their lives 'facilitated' by women starts at an early age, and as a direct result of the way in which their mothers bring them up, and what is expected from them as they grow up.

I have to hang my head in complete shame here as I have come to the horrifying realisation that I AM GUILTY of this!

Not sure where it all went wrong, but it's a familiar tale - I used to have a high-powered job/ earn the same or more than DH, but then had to scale back when the kids were young to fit in with school responsibilities. Never got 'back into' work as I was then called upon to look after an elderly parent. I therefore fell into the trap I had always told myself to avoid, and made full-time parenting my 'life's work.'

I have two teenage sons, and I am embarrassed to admit that I let them get away without doing cooking/washing/cleaning around the house.
I completely 'facilitate' their lives, by making sure sports kits are clean and lifts are given, food is provided etc.

I am totally and utterly taken for granted sad.

But I don't know how to change it - I've left it too late for a complete regime change - and they have GCSEs/A levels this year anyway, so now is not the right time to start demanding they do all their own washing, for example.

I have failed utterly. And here's me thinking I was a feminist!

CiderwithBuda Mon 13-Nov-17 14:18:56

Me too!

One DS who is 16. And he had a shit year last year with daily migraines and was off school from November. Did his GCSEs at home. Back at school for A levels and it's all started again. So I don't want to put unnecessary pressure on.

Thankfully he does see DH do stuff around the house. DH had to as his mum died when he was eleven and there was just him and his dad so he had to do stuff. And now DH does most of the cooking and does supermarket etc.

I told DS he would have to learn to iron his shirts and was told he would pay someone or use shirt service at dry cleaners.

ArcheryAnnie Mon 13-Nov-17 14:26:15

have GCSEs/A levels this year anyway, so now is not the right time to start demanding they do all their own washing, for example

It really, really is the right time. It won't cause them to fail their exams if they are responsible for loading the washing machine occasionally, or taking their own plates out, or being the person to nip down to the corner shop when you've run out of milk.

"Doing all their own washing" needn't mean quite that, just calling out "have you go clean clothes? No? Then put a wash on!" once in a while.

fluffyhamster Mon 13-Nov-17 14:27:23

Well, I have told DS1 that the minute he finishes his A levels I will be putting him on an intensive 'How to Adult' course at home and he will ne expected to cook/ do his own washing in prep for going to Uni.

Unfortunately I don't think DH is a great role model in some areas - he will cook, but only cleans if it involves a 'power tool' hmm

FurryGiraffe Mon 13-Nov-17 14:32:03

It really, really is the right time. It won't cause them to fail their exams if they are responsible for loading the washing machine occasionally, or taking their own plates out, or being the person to nip down to the corner shop when you've run out of milk.

This. Yes GCSEs and A-levels are important, but they need to learn to juggle academic work and everyday life, as they will later need to juggle paid work and everyday life.

ArcheryAnnie Mon 13-Nov-17 14:33:43

But fluffy, there will never be a good time. if it's not A-levels then it's new jobs, or it's going to university, or it's something else. Part of adulting is fitting in all the boring shit - cleaning the bath, etc, around your real life, the stuff you want to do.

You don't have to make him do everything at once, but if he's old enough to do A-levels, he's old enough to take out the recycling and clean the bath once a week.

grasspigeons Mon 13-Nov-17 14:36:37


Just explain what it is you expect them to do and let them get on with it.

Go and do something fun instead.

claraschu Mon 13-Nov-17 14:37:25

I had two spoiled sons and one spoiled daughter. The boys are now out of the house, and they are extremely considerate, toilet-cleaning, hardworking, laundry-doing, appreciative, feminist young men. My 16 year old daughter still has a way to go-

Summerswallow Mon 13-Nov-17 14:41:18

It's fine to start the regime change from now on in. You don't need to wait the best part of half a year to start!

I have mollycoddled my girls a bit, so it's not just a son thing, plus they used to fuss a lot and make such a palava that I would end up not asking as it was easier to do it myself. I now don't think this and have started getting them to take more responsibility, even just for their own wellbeing in terms of getting drinks, fixing a small snack for themselves (omelette, sandwiches, simple pasta) and not relying on 'Good Old Mum' to step in all the time. Mostly it's working well, I also explained why they have to do it- both to get able to look after themselves when they leave home but also because I am tired and exhausted and leaving me to do everything is the wrong thing to do. Things they can help with that aren't big tasks are unpacking shopping, doing small shops, unstacking/stacking the dishwasher. Start them now!

poooooooop Mon 13-Nov-17 14:46:06

This is interesting for me for the future op. Thanks.

My dh is much better at adulting than I am. He moved away from home at 16 and has lived alone a lot. He’s a good role model for our dc.

My mum always said never live with a man until he’s lived on his own 1st, and I will be telling that to both my dd and ds too, when they’re older. And I expect them to live on their own too (or with a friend, not a substitute parent).

BUT we both do molly coddle them too much! And we need to learn to loosed the apron strings!

CancellyMcChequeface Mon 13-Nov-17 14:47:48

I don't have sons of my own, but as the eldest daughter of a single dad, I did this kind of thing for my brother until he was in his early twenties. It didn't end until he shouted at me for 'making him late for work' by not waking him up on time. I'd called him twice, he'd just decided to go back to sleep. Soon after that I was showing him how to use the washing machine, iron, etc. I was shocked at the time because I had no idea how he didn't know these things - I'd been doing them since age 12/13. But of course, in hindsight, that's exactly why.

He's now living independently on another continent, so no permanent harm was done!

megletthesecond Mon 13-Nov-17 14:53:21

Marking my place so I don't go down this route.

Aderyn17 Mon 13-Nov-17 14:56:16

Hi OP. I am a sahm and like you, have done a lot for my kids. The thing is, they won't appreciate it - they'll go off to uni and blame you for the fact they can't cook or use the washing machine. With that in mind I started asking mine to do a bit more, like making themselves lunch, nipping to the shop for me (or for the household generally), clearing up their rooms, changing their own sheets.
There are things I have always insisted on, like taking plates out to the kitchen after meals, putting dirty clothes in the washing basket. I think clearing up after themselves is basic respect and of yours aren't doing that, then you definitely need to change this. I have always said to mine that I am not staff - I will happily cook and do laundry, but I'm not walking around the house first to locate it!

Teaching your dc how to make simple meals and how to shop and plan meals is a great thibg to do for them before university. As is instilling the idea that cleaning up after thrmselves will help them no end when it comes to house sharing.

I have noticed though, that my dd will ask if she can wash up and I have heard her say to her brothers that she wants to help mummy - her brothers feel no guilt whatsoever at parking their arses in the sofa while me and their dad clear up the kitchen after dinner. So I have been making them help. I don't want them to be taking domestic work for granted.

Recently ds(aged16) got a girlfriend and he has seen how easy he's had it compared to the chore expectation in some families. As a consequence, he's been really appreciative recently.

deydododatdodontdeydo Mon 13-Nov-17 15:11:32

I don't think it's much of a problem unless you are treating boys differently to girls. As you have sons, you should try not to raise them as entitled slobs, but I don't think it's as simple as if you do everything for them they become lazy.
The biggest neat freaks I know (male) had mum's who did everything for them.

fluffyhamster Mon 13-Nov-17 15:18:59

Well, maybe they're not as bad as I make out. I do insist on some things:

- dirty laundry in basket and clean collected from utility room and put away
- plates from rooms and put in dishwasher
- they can both make themselves simple food (Pasta, omelettes etc)

Neither knows how to use the washing machine though blush but that's more because I think it's wasteful to do a small load.

Rufustherenegadereindeer1 Mon 13-Nov-17 15:29:58

I facilitate all my children

But any chores my children do they all do

Ds1 is the only one who makes his bed

Dh makes the bed for ds2 and dd grin

But i don't disagree at all with the premise and will definitely look at how we parent

StormTreader Mon 13-Nov-17 15:57:55

"but that's more because I think it's wasteful to do a small load."

Are there no other clothes in the house that need doing? It wont kill them to start doing loads of washing that also include other peoples clothes.

KickAssAngel Mon 13-Nov-17 16:05:50

Why are you assuming it's the the mother's fault? Where are the dads? what are they doing?

Yes, I can very easily see how families structures themselves like this. It works well for a small group such as a family. It also works well for capitalism to have the opt in/out part of the population as demand/supply changes.

But the only reason why it is women who become the SAHP, and not an equal amount of women & men, is patriarchy. The people who benefit from patriarchy are men. The people who need to change it are men.

If men facilitated women's careers in the same way that women do to men, then this would cease to happen. So - why aren't dads doing this?

littlechous Mon 13-Nov-17 16:11:12

Small steps like (this is what my 13yo does)

Clear away dinner plates, load dishwasher
I tell him what colour wash I’m doing so he will bring down his own dirty clothes
Take the bins out/bring them in
At the weekend he will do his own lunches - simple stuff like pesto pasta

Do you give them money each week? Could their jobs be linked to that’?

Aderyn17 Mon 13-Nov-17 16:13:55

Kick Ass, I think more women than men want to sah when they have just had a baby. I didn't want my dh to be at home with our newborn when I could do it, so it wasn't a case of him refusing to facilitate my career. In all honesty he would have supported whatever I wanted.

ArcheryAnnie Mon 13-Nov-17 16:17:51

Neither knows how to use the washing machine though blush but that's more because I think it's wasteful to do a small load.

We never do a small load, either, but when DS puts the washing machine on (he's 15) he just fills it with his stuff first, then with other appropriate stuff from the laundry basket until it's full. Then when it's time to hang it out to dry, he will hang his own stuff out, and call me to hang mine out! (And sometimes I ask him to hang mine out, sometimes I will hang his out.)

VerticalBlinds Mon 13-Nov-17 16:38:19

lol @ him picking through the basket and only hanging his own things up grin

Still he does more than mine, mine are youngish though.

I do think there is something in the idea that women / mothers run around after boys more, and that boys seem to expect this and feel no guilt. It's probably a society thing as well as an individual household thing. A lot of boys seem to learn quite young that they are superior to girls, even if it's in quite small ways ie that they don't come across as totally horrible or anything, this reflects in behaviour to mothers and of course later in life with partners and how they view other women etc. Shown up I think in the massive differential between boys moving out and girls - boys stay because they are given more freedom + looked after. Girls go because their parents are much more nosey into where they are going and who with etc and they have more responsibilities.

The girls come better out of this I think until they get lumbered with a man who moves from mother to wife and expects her to iron his pants etc

It's all a bit of a nightmare.

I thought men were supposed to be strong, independent, self sufficient etc while women are weak and needy? This is just yet another massive reversal isn't it, whereby men take their own failings and project them onto women. Pah.

MrsJamin Mon 13-Nov-17 16:49:17

I'm determined not to have man-babies as sons, we try and get them to do as much as they can. They're now 7 & 9. They bring down their washing and put it in the washing machine (next step is to teach them to turn it on), they make their own packed lunches. They sometimes make a weekend lunch for us all. I don't do "waitress service" ie bring them something like a drink etc if they are sitting down in the lounge. It's the invisible things too, they expect me to problem solve if they get into difficulty and I try and let them solve it first. This is what's involved in adulting, working something out for yourself, not just following instructions. Any other tips people have are welcome! Sometimes I think other people are mad for letting my 7 year old pack for beaver residential but I do, I don't even check it. They need to learn to plan, think for themselves, and deal with the consequences of not doing so.

Piratesandpants Mon 13-Nov-17 16:52:33

Why isn’t this the mother’s fault? Do you think mothers only facilitate their sons not their daughters?

mymatemax Mon 13-Nov-17 17:04:22

Oh yes, I have a dh who was waited on hand & foot by his mum. It took me a while to retrain himI.have 2 sons. Ds1 cooked dinner yesterday both are capable of being lazy teenagers but they also do household chores when needed. More importantly I am starting to encourage them to manage their own money, make their own phone calls & take responsibility for organising themselves and being reliable. It's thinking for 4 people that I find more exhausting than doing chores the sooner they start thinking more for themselves the better.

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