This mom only wants what’s best for her son. So, even if he didn’t like being in the kitchen, she asked him to cook dinner once a week. Was she “punishing” him or teaching him?
A Mother of Two
OP (Original Poster) is a 43-year-old woman who has 2 sons: Adam, who is 17, and James, who is 15.
Though her kids are close in age, they couldn’t be more different, especially when it comes to cooking.
A Chef in the Making
Since he was young, Adam has shown an interest in cooking; he’s also extremely talented in the kitchen. Because of how much he enjoyed it, Adam cooked dinner for their family two to three times a week.
Aside from this, Adam takes it as an opportunity to try out new recipes. For the rest of the week, OP’s the one who cooks—unless it’s summer, and her husband insists on grilling every day.
Rushed Eating Habits
On the other hand, James isn’t interested in learning how to cook. Despite that, OP tried to teach him kitchen basics, and he surely knew how to make a sandwich.
However, instead of making himself a hearty meal or a sandwich, he’d grab an apple and go.
His Own Personal Chef
A few months before OP posted this story, James started asking Adam to make him a homemade snack in the afternoons. Adam would do it if he’s in the mood, but most of the time, he’s bothered by his brother’s daily requests.
A Variety of Snacks
OP asked James why he couldn’t make a sandwich or a snack since they always have food like hummus, yogurt, pita, sliced vegetables, salsa, and chips. She also often makes baked goods and a good array of decent snacks.
She added, “He could make a smoothie. There’s always frozen fruit. But he said Adam is just better at it, and he doesn’t know how to make it as good.”
Their Home’s New Cook
OP saw it as a sign that things could be improved, so she decided that James would be cooking for their family dinner once a week. It didn’t necessarily have to be fancy, but it had to be at least somewhat balanced and would fill their stomachs.
She noted, “For example, yesterday, he made grilled cheese sandwiches, a salad, tomato soup, and a side of cut strawberries. A very simple but good meal. Packaged soups and things are fine as long as that’s not all.”
Mom’s Helping Hand
To avoid James being overwhelmed, she’d help him with meal planning. Then, she would work at the dining room table so that she’d be nearby in case he required help.
A Much-Needed Life Skill
Even though James doesn’t enjoy it, OP still pushes for it since it’s an important life skill. She said, “Feeding yourself isn’t optional.”
Not a Want but a Need
Sadly, James had been complaining to OP’s mother, who told her she’d been “punishing” her son for too long. However, in no way did she mean for it to be a punishment.
OP wrote, “It’s life skill training, and I was very clear with James that this was a permanent change, not a temporary punishment.”
I’ve Learned From Your Mistakes!
Despite OP’s belief, her mother made her feel like she’s an “absolutely terrible mother” who’s forcing “unpleasant chores” on her kids. OP even pointed out that her brother is a grown man who lives on takeout since she never taught him to cook.
OP added, “I didn’t want that to be James one day. She hung up on me.”
Is She a Bad Mom?
OP’s husband fully supports their new dinner routine. However, it didn’t eliminate the negative feelings she’s been fostering since her mom yelled at her.
Now she’s asking, “Is it really that bad?”
The Community’s Suggestions
People agreed that OP is teaching her son an essential skill because it will be helpful in the future.
A Redditor said, “Not the a**hole. You’re helping James develop an important life skill and teaching him that weaponized incompetence is not acceptable. When he grows up and has a partner, they’ll be very glad that you taught him this lesson.”
Another one wrote, “Not the a**hole! I think all children should know the basics of cooking; there’s nothing sadder than seeing grown people who can’t even fry an egg.”
It’s a Necessity
Some Redditors shared their opinion on household chores and the like and how they are glad they’ve learned basic cooking skills and can now care for themselves.
A commenter wrote, “Not the a**hole. I didn’t like being ‘forced’ to learn how to cook a meal as a kid, but it’s the one thing my parents did for me that genuinely helped me. Chores aren’t always supposed to be fun, but they are important for one’s everyday life.”
The same person added, “I also think that making a habit of it now is a good thing. When college or the time to move out happens, he’s going to snap into junk food for a while, but after that fad ends, he’ll want those filling meals that don’t make you feel gross for eating afterward, and he won’t have to teach himself and build the habits from scratch.”
The Real Bad Mother
Many people believe that OP’s mom got mad at her for bringing to light the mistake she made with her own son. So, for them, OP’s right to go in a different direction.
“Not the a**hole. She yelled at you as a defense mechanism because she dropped the ball by not teaching your brother to cook. I taught my kids as teens to do laundry, and when he got to college, my son thanked me because he was the only one in his dorm who knew how to do it,” someone wrote.
Another one said, “It sounds like your mother feels like it’s okay to raise incompetent children. I don’t know if it’s only with her son or if she didn’t teach you how to cook either, but you’re setting up your kids for success by making them learn to cook.”
Is OP a bad mom? Are you someone who has the same thoughts as her?
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This post first appeared as Her Mom Chewed Her Out for “Punishing” Her 15-Year-Old Son by Making Him Cook Dinner Once a Week. It’s an Important Life Skill, but She Feels Like a “Terrible Mother!” on Quote Ambition.