By doing everything for him, I was holding my son back from growing up to be a kind, respectful, and responsible man.
I gave my son everything he asked for, doted on him night and day, and fulfilled his every need. And that’s when I realized that I was failing as a mother. By doing the things that I thought mothers were meant to do, I was actually holding back my son from growing up to be the man I want him to be.
The day I realized this was when my mother-in-law came home to stay with us for the weekend. The kids love having her over and of course, my husband loves having some time with his mom. But over the two days that she was with us, she could see me spend all my time trying to fulfill my husband’s needs and trying to fulfilling the kids’ needs and trying to do something extra special while she was staying with us, all at the same time.
I noticed her glancing at me constantly as I was whizzing away in the kitchen while my husband would be lying on the couch and enjoying his family time. Before she left us at the end of the weekend, she whispered into my ear and said, “I’m sorry dear, I thought I was raising a gentleman by fulfilling his every need, but I was wrong.” And she picked up her bags and left.
It dawned on me then that I was raising my kids the wrong way. In the past, if my 5-year-old son spoke rudely to me and demanded something, I would immediately give it to him. If he threw his toys around and refused to pick them up when I asked him to, I would end up doing it for him. I rationalized everything he does, making excuses for his behavior, saying, “maybe he’s tired” or “he has time to learn” or “he’s just 5”. But what he does at 5 is certainly going to affect what he does when he’s 25 or 35.
If I want him to be a 'true gentleman' then, I need him to be conscious of his own responsibilities and be understanding of other people as well. By jumping to do everything for my son, I’m making him think that he’s always going to have a woman make him the center of his universe, and I’m failing the woman who’s going to marry my son in the future. I understood that it’s time I let my son know the true meaning of being responsible.
In small ways, he can start looking after himself by putting his stuff away, cleaning up the mess he made, putting his dishes in the sink, and even help me in the kitchen. He will start understanding what it means to be responsible and to respect the people in his life, including his mother. I know that I’m the first woman figure in his life and the relationship he shares with me will define all the other relationships he has with a woman. If I rush to pick up after him all the time, he’s going to expect the same from all the women who walk into his life. And I shouldn’t let him grow up to be that kind of man.
Through small ways, I can finally get him to pick up after himself and show him it’s important to respect everybody’s needs and feelings. As a mother, I want nothing but the very best for both my son and daughter. I imagine them growing up to be happy adults who are kind to everybody around them. I want my son to grow up into a loving and kind man, and my daughter to grow up and accept only a loving and kind man.
And interestingly, ever since the last time my mother-in-law came home to visit us, there’s been a few changes in my husband as well. Maybe the two-hour-long conversation between my mother-in-law and my husband behind my back had something to do with it. He’s finally helping out with the dishes, he made the kids’ lunchboxes for the whole of last week, and even brings me breakfast in bed sometimes.
There is no perfect way to teach my son and daughter how to be strong and kind to others, but there are thousands of ways I can show them. They’re soon going to grow too big for my lap and when that happens, they are going to be responsible adults who can both take care of themselves without having to depend on anyone else to fulfill their needs.
Disclaimer: This article is based on insights from different sources. The views expressed here are those of the writer.