Friday, April 1, 2011


So how do you know if you are a coddle monster? I have drafted up eleven warning signs (largely for the American population). Barring ethnic, regional, and cultural inanities, mothers should avoid the following behaviors for their boys over twelve years of age. If you find that you do one or two of these things, you are probably fine. If you find that you are doing several of them, you want to stop. NOW. 

1. YOU ARE YOUR BOY’S ALARM CLOCK. I hear about this all the time. Mothers remind boys when to go to bed, when to wake up, when to take a shower, when to get ready for school, when to get ready for work. Let him be late a few times and have the discomfort of facing his principal, his coach, his boss. When a mother does not remind her boy to execute a responsibility in a timely manner, he ends up blaming his mother, in which case the mother responds by ridiculing her son’s inability to do things in a timely manner. This cycle continues until he hits a midlife crisis in which case he has a rude awakening or he continues to replicate it until the grave.

2. YOU DO YOUR BOY’S LAUNDRY. I am not sure how I can be any more tactful than to say that a mother has no business touching her boy’s underwear or any other article of clothing that has touched his naked body. A clear barrier is breached when a mother does that (Would a mother allow her boy to fold her underwear and bras?). Or a barrier has not been set up when a young man does NOT care that his mother does that. When a boy has to routinely wash, dry, and put away his clothes, he learns what a dirty person he is and begins to make conscious decisions not to pick his butt or not to use his white t-shirts to wipe the sweat off his face or not to leave his clothes in a dirty pile in the corner. Mothers who do their sons’ laundry well into the teenage years do not understand that they prevent their sons from developing a mature, hygienic awareness. Hygiene is so much more than smelling like AXE or gargling Listerine.

3. YOU SEE YOUR BOY UNCLOTHED. I cannot think of any reason a mother should be in the bathroom when her grown son is taking a shower or soaking in the tub, yet many mothers feel that this is no problem. They come into their boys’ rooms in the morning to wake them up by pulling off his sheets revealing his half-naked body, and they think it’s funny. Or they come into the bedroom when he is half-dressed. Worse yet, they allow him to walk through the house half-dressed or lounge all day in his boxers. This scatological indecency allows young men to be mooks for longer than they should be. They take that same attitude into their romances and marriages, and what do you get? A little boy still.

4. YOU LET YOUR BOY SLEEP IN YOUR BED. This does happen, and it is ridiculous. I knew of a young man at the age of 12 and 13 who slept with his mother every night and had done that since he was very little. Because the father worked night shifts and was virtually never around, the mother was always alone. She needed the comfort of her little boy, and he had never developed the habit of sleeping in his own room. So five or ten or twelve years of age did not matter to him. I was concerned when I first heard about this, and I spoke with the young man about it. He had no conscience whatsoever that he probably should be sleeping in his own room. I did learn that he tried to break himself of the habit. By sleeping in each of his older brothers’ beds. But they soon tired of that, thinking it weird. Perhaps, this point is a rarity, but it bears mentioning.

5. YOU DEFEND YOUR BOY BEFORE HIS FATHER. Fathers can get out of hand, I agree. However, every time a father corrects, yells at, or otherwise gets frustrated with his son, it does not demand that mother come to the rescue. Boys are hardheaded. They really are. Boys respond well to masculine imperatives, because it steels within them the ability to act when they don’t want to act, the ability to follow through when they don’t want to follow through, and the ability to do the thing they hate the most because they want to conquer it: not understand it. They need that man-fear. Mothers do their boys “favors” when they defend them, and  many boys understand exactly what it means. It is mom’s way of saying “I’m sorry son for our last argument. This is me telling you I’m sorry.” Or it is her way of saying “You owe me some respect next time.” This kind of role-playing hampers a boy’s ability to transition into manhood, because he develops a conscience that masculine confrontation is despicable.

6. YOU DO YOUR BOYS’ SCHOOLWORK FOR HIM. Need I say much more? Why does a mother do her boys’ schoolwork while he is sleeping, on an outing with friends, or just hanging out? Coddle monsters will say they do it because they love their boys. However, they really do it because they have not cut the umbilical cord yet. They are so intertwined with their sons personae that their boys’ failures are their very own failures. Mothers like this will do anything to help their boys appear to be successful even to the extent of cheating (which they are already doing) and lying, and stealing for them. Many a mother has spent the night typing up research papers, doing research for research papers, or putting the finishing touches on a project which the young man will not recognize to be his own when he wakes up the next morning.

7. YOU INVADE YOUR BOYS’ PRIVATE SPACE. Coddle monsters are sneaks. They are voyeurs, listening in on phone conversations, putting their ear up against the bedroom door or wall, browsing through their sons’ texts, phone numbers, and Internet history. Looking through his bedroom drawers, going through the pockets of the pants he has discarded on the floor, smelling their sons’ clothing, and checking underneath their blankets for any sort of “clue” that would help them understand their boys’ activities away from mom. The same mothers will talk through the bathroom door while the son is using the restroom or shower or talk his ear off when he is trying to sleep. The mother wants to regulate the experiences of her boy, and ultimately, his growth.

8. YOU MONITOR YOUR BOY'S MONEY. I know of boys who have jobs, but they do not have bank accounts. Or any bank account that they have set up themselves. They turn their checks over to their mothers, hoping that she is going deposit the money, keep track of it, and sometimes make it grow. The same mothers will not allow their sons to withdraw any of their own money, because they have determined that he is “saving up for college” or for a “car” (of her choosing). However, they are willing to “loan” him a fiver or so whenever he needs it, further drawing that boy into her neverending bosom of smotherliness. Also, such mothers will borrow money from their boys’ account whenever they get in a bind. He doesn’t know how much money he has anyway.

9. YOU ARE YOUR BOY'S CHAUFFER. Instead of driving your son everywhere, why not let him get his drivers’ permit, or his license, or buy a car? In addition, why not put the responsibility upon him to get from point A to point B? Why can’t he walk? I am surprised at how many athletic boys who can pump loads of iron or wrestle any opponent in their weight-class are controlled by their mothers in this way. Mom won’t let him walk three miles to a friend’s house or to work. No, he has to wait around for Mom to finish her work around the house before she can drop him off. And he sits there playing video games or watching television when he could already be there and back before his mother is done. This subtle form of control contributes to her son’s mooching off his girlfriend, fiancĂ©, or future wife.

10. YOU ARE THE ONLY PARENT WHO SPEAKS TO YOUR BOY ABOUT SEX. I have had mothers tell me that they have great relationships with their boys in that their boys can tell them "anything." While I am always happy to hear a mother affirm that, I have often learned that I did not quite understand what they meant. What they often meant was that they had very open conversations about sex. I am not talking about sexual morality. I am talking about sex from the pros and cons of methods to the son “confessing” is sexcapades with his girlfriend or any number of girls or with himself or occasionally with another boy. Coddle monsters get really excited when their sons confide in them these kinds of sordid things, because it is the ultimate compliment you could give a coddle monster. I knew a boy who confessed to his mother a particular attraction. To an animal. I am not lying. She thought it was a sign that he was “pouring’ his heart out. I thought it meant that the boy needed professional help.

11.YOU ARE BEST FRIENDS WITH YOUR BOYS’ GIRLFRIEND. While some mothers have the ability to maintain healthy friendships with their boys’ girlfriends, I typically find this kind of three-way relationship unconscionable. Especially with mothers who have to be either best friends with their boy’s girlfriends or completely disapprove of them altogether. Of course, the coddle monster does not want the competition of another female, so it only makes sense to win that female over. Not only does she gain a new friend, but she gets to keep her boy! Such close relationships like these can be crippling, though, because the mother is present "all of the time" while alone at home with her boy or through her close monitoring and interrogating of the girlfriend. Quite honestly, the romance gets mixed up in the mind of the boy with the love for his mother. The girlfriend will eventually go away while the real relationship between mother and son continues.

I could go on, but no, as I am getting nauseated from this subject. If you see yourself in several of these descriptions, then I recommend that you reevaluate your own emotional health. Aside from your boy’s own developmental issues, you have issues, too, the main one being that your vampiric need for the undivided attention of your little boy means that somewhere deep inside you have a voracious appetite. You are starving.


  1. I am guilty of doing laundry, waking him up and protecting him in front of dad. MISTAKES!! BIG MISTAKES!! Very wise council about how to raise a man.

  2. Love this post- have a friend who does almost all of these points and it's creepy!

  3. I've seen these kinds of behaviors replicated by mothers until it's too late. The need for mothers to control does not stop after the boy leaves, and the effects that have formatted their boys's lives do not miraculously go away when they go to college or join the military. These are behaviors at the impulse level. Oftentimes, a boy (and a mother) will have to be broken down and put back together. That requires pressure, proportionate to the hard-headed nature of boys and moms.


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