Bad Parent: Mama's Boys. Am I overindulging my sons? By Emily Mendell for


The enormity of my predicament hit me like a Tonka truck last winter as I was navigating the normal morning tumult of getting my boys ready for school. To speed the process of getting dressed along, I had come up with the nifty idea of running their clothes through the dryer for about a minute. It worked brilliantly. The clothes came out all toasty, and the boys couldn’t get that underwear on fast enough! But several weeks into this routine, the dryer was full of wet laundry and the boys had to (gasp) put on room temperature clothing again.

They whined: I can’t wear these pants. My shirt isn’t warm. You have to warm these clothes up.

As I began light-heartedly pulling the soppy clothes out of the dryer so that my boys could have warm socks, I was suddenly crippled by horrific visions of my sweet little sons at age thirty, griping to their wives that they needed their clothes to be warmed each morning because that’s what their mother did for them.

Oh my god, I thought, I’m raising mama’s boys. I had mysteriously grown apron strings, despite the fact that I don’t cook.

Before my husband and I had children, it was assumed by all who knew us that when we became parents, I would be the bad cop. Call central casting for the disciplinarian, and I would be the first sent down. While I was a Type A, stick-to-the-rules, eat-what-you-kill kind of gal, my husband was incredibly laid back. Nothing seemed to bother him. Ever. Even I was certain that our future children would figure out quickly that when Mommy says “no,” Daddy will say “yes.” But it didn’t turn out that way at all.

Within twenty-six months, I gave birth to two little boys, and transformed into a completely different person. I became extremely proficient at nurturing my sons and fairly impotent at disciplining them. To this day, I am the first to cave on punishments and the last to say no to double dessert.

Don’t like what we are having for dinner? No problemo! I’ll fix you something special.

You just earned a thirty-minute time out, mister! Okay, maybe fifteen minutes. Alright, six, but that is it!

I see that Lego set costs $49.99. How much do you have? Alright, I’ll make up the extra $42.

Even worse, I actually enjoy doing things for the boys that they should clearly be doing for themselves. Somewhere deep inside, fixing snacks, making beds, packing schoolbags, combing hair, and picking out clothes makes me feel happy and motherly. Meanwhile, my husband, Mr. Mellow, has slipped easily into the role of authoritarian. He used to just roll his eyes at my indulgences, but lately he’s been pushing back.

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