Dear Indian moms, love your sons but learn to let go!
Marriage Single
6 minute
Marriage Single
Read Time: 6 minute(s)

As much as I am thrilled to write this article, a part of me is nervous too. Not because of what reactions it will yield from others but how in the best manner I can put my point across.

I will begin with how (most) Indian mothers forget to detach the ‘umbilical cord’ from their sons even in adulthood.

Mom: Son, why don’t you have this dal? (Moving to her daughter-in-law), put some dal in his bowl.

Daughter-in-law: He hasn’t asked for it.

Mom: It’s all right; he will eat it. He likes this dal.

Son (chewing his food): Do as my mom says.

The dal remained untouched in the bowl after dinner.

If you could see something problematic here, I congratulate you for having a developed mindset.

Now, I recounted this incident from my personal life. Things are changed now. And it hasn’t been repeated, thankfully.

What did we see here?

A mother who deeply loves her son and will provide him with everything she can. A son who respects his mother enough not to let her words go to waste. Lastly, a disregarded wife whose words contained no value.

Why is mollycoddling their son often confused with love?

As a mother of two school-going sons, I have ensured that both do things independently.

‘Want to go to the bathroom? Ask the waiter where the loo is and go.’ 

‘Want water? Fetch it yourself.’

‘Want to do that art project? You will do things yourself while I help you.’

If they are doing their things themselves, it doesn’t mean my love for them is any less. I am not a strict parent, but I am working towards making my kids get their shit together from an early age because I will not do it for them. 

I see other moms speaking with their sons, no matter how young or old, in a visibly unwholesome way that adversely impacts their sons’ cognitive and thinking abilities.

Today, I accompanied my kids to their dance class. Going left and right, tapping and twirling to the rhythm – and of course, the instructor’s directions. Another set of instructions caught my attention, this time from a fellow mother – instructing her young one to do the step correctly. While her intention was good that her kid learns the best- she kept directing him to lift his leg as the dance teacher called out the number. If anything, the poor kid was now trying to balance two instructions. Result? He was confused, unfocused, and uncoordinated. 

Signs of how mothers mollycoddle their sons: 

Mollycoddling begins with mothers fighting their sons’ battles for them, protecting them from every possible thing, demanding them to do things a certain way and not leaving room for them to grow on their own. Read on further to learn the signs of mollycoddling: 

  1. The son never has to do anything because the mother does everything for him. Buying his toothpaste, folding his laundry, cleaning after him, bringing food to him- the kid doesn’t lift a finger. It results in the son growing into a manchild, expecting his wife to mother him in adulthood. 
  2. Mollycoddling mothers micromanage their son’s life- from choosing which sport they should play to whom they should engage with- mothers do it for them leaving them inefficient at decision-making and irresponsible.  
  3. When the kid gets hurt, the mollycoddling mothers will move mountains to soothe him, console him, or get overboard with apologising. Everyone gets hurt- they should teach their kids this simple truth and equip them with the necessary skills to manage and combat. 
  4. The mothers who mollycoddle their sons avoid encouraging them to take the hard step or do the difficult thing. They want to take their child’s pain away- understandable. But discouraging them from doing the hard thing will only lead them to be lazy, dependent, and a tantrum-thrower. 
  5. The mollycoddling mothers intervene unhealthily in their son’s life, inadvertently imparting them no sense of healthy boundaries. Barging into his room unannounced, overstaying their visit at his house, giving unsolicited opinions about how he should lead his married life, demanding to be involved in every little event of his life- it is unhealthy and lacks boundaries.

So, when should the mothers learn to ‘let go’ and HOW! 

It begins early on. Ever since the child starts crawling, he can get up himself if he falls. Don’t run up to pick him up; watch how the child picks himself up, uses the strength in his little arms and starts crawling again. Please do the same when he starts walking. Do it again when he starts eating his food himself. Don’t do things for the child that he can do on his own. 

Praise them but don’t overdo it; don’t say ‘wow’, ‘amazing’, or ‘well done’ at every little thing they do. Sometimes, see and nod. We, in adulthood, don’t get ‘wow’ or ‘amazing’ every time we accomplish something. Over-praising makes it meaningless for them, renders the child self-obsessed, and makes him crave others’ opinions. What should matter is their own opinion. If he asks, ‘How does my drawing look?’ Don’t just say, ‘It looks great’; ask him how it looks and what HE thinks of his drawing.

Avoid asking him to do something ‘for you’. “Can you set the table for me?” No.

Just say- Can you set the table, please? The former incites emotional blackmail. You don’t want your adult child to sink into emotional turmoil when his employer commands him to do something. It’s important to learn to do things for no one in particular.

Learn to say NO to your child’s requests. You don’t always have to offer explanations. Sometimes, a simple NO is enough. You don’t owe your child all the information about why you won’t take them to the park this evening or why you won’t yet play with them. It’s not insensitive, trust me.

There’s no need to make a big deal out of everything. Your child falls, and he comes to you crying- cuddle him a little, hug him, empathise, and move on.

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