It's exhausting, but I think it's working.

By Katie Bingham-Smith
Photo by Getty Images

My sons love nothing more than to sit on the sofa together and indulge in a Walking Dead marathon. Despite the show they are watching, the vision is endearing. They have their heads pressed together, they are snuggling, swaddled with blankets, and are truly enjoying each other.

Despite the fact they know how I operate, they still do things that make my skin crawl like ask me to get them a drink because they "are busy."

I always tell them “no” because watching grotesque marathons of flesh-eating zombies doesn't mean they are busy. It means they are being lazy and want someone to wait on them.

They are sick of my reminders and lectures, but it's clear they need them. Or maybe they just secretly like them—it’s a mystery to me.

What I'm doing/not doing

I will not wait on my sons. I will not make their life easy. I will not spoil them. And no, I will never say they are "my babies and deserve the best," and mean I want them to find a woman who waits on them and makes their life easy.

Why, you ask, am I saying this?

First of all, it’s 2018. And second, I want to raise men who are aware of others’ need besides theirs, are self-sufficient, and who believe in equal partnerships with whomever they settle down with.

I don't want them to ever feel like they deserve to have their meal plated or take a timeout when they get home every evening because they worked hard and their partner "got to stay at home with the kids."

My boys won't be above scrubbing a toilet or doing the laundry or running the vacuum.

Like most things with raising teens, it's exhausting.

But holy cow, this takes a lot of work. I mean, it will all be worth it. At least that's what I keep telling myself when I have to talk them into brushing their teeth and wipe out all the toothpaste and bits of food they leave behind.

I remind myself as I'm standing over them instructing them how to wipe pee off the toilet seat, there will be a woman out there one day who will thank me for this.

And I also know I'll appreciate it myself when they are grown and move out and don't come home and expect I'll do their laundry because I've done it for so many years or think wiping up milk with their sleeve is an acceptable way to clean to countertops.

I'll be relieved when they take a look around and ask if they can help with anything instead of lounging on the sofa thinking I am going to be waiting on them for the afternoon.

The way I teach my sons to act and behave and be self-sufficient will better them. It will better my quality of life. And it will benefit the partner they decide to shack up with because they won't have preconceived notions about the way they should be treated because their mother showed them they are too precious to get their own darn glass of milk, or they've never had to care or do nice things for others because their whole life, it's been all about them.

It's taking almost all of my strength as well as my physical and mental energy, but I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and reap the benefits myself and there is no way I'm going to give up at this point.

So, for now, I'll remind them about the toothpaste and opening doors for other people. I keep telling them they are capable of getting themselves a drink and a snack when they are "busy."

I'll keep showing them how you treat a partner and just because you ask for something doesn't mean it is owed to you or you will get it. You must be willing to help yourself and do nice things for someone if you want them to do nice things for you as well.

And that means we will have days when I will yell and get frustrated and tell them they are not the king of this castle and they can get up and take care of their needs themselves.

It's working, I think. I'm a bit hoarse and have more gray hair, but it is working.

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