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Mothers Who Do Their Sons' Laundry Should Be Hung Out To Dry

08/04/2016 7:38 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Dusk

For my 13th birthday I got a belly-button piercing and a lesson on how to do laundry.

Officially no longer a child, Mum declared she was relinquishing the responsibility for my washing. I was now the master of my own whites, coloureds and underwear. And I was mortified.

It wasn't until I was a fully grown adult that I realised this wasn't a rite of passage. In fact, for many of my male, Gen Y friends, who are well into their twenties, clothes still magically appear twice weekly at the foot of their bed. White shirts are soaked, flaky bedsheets are scrubbed. If you think this sounds gross, that is because it is. If you're old enough to blow a load, you're old enough to put one on.

One mother I know won't let her sons do their own washing in case they break the washing machine. Another suggested to her adult son, who lives out of home, that he bring his dirty laundry over to her place for her to clean for him. His sister, unsurprisingly, doesn't get the same privilege.

It makes me sad that I'm not exaggerating.

I'm not here to offer parenting advice -- I know nothing about children. I don't care how you breed, feed or read. But I am asking mothers to stop acting like servants for their sons, because the people who are going to have to pick up the pieces of this weird new way of parenting are my generation of women.

Yes, even in 2016 young women are getting the short end of the domestic stick -- despite the fact that we've been told to take our foot off the pedal when it comes to housework. A 2012 study found that girls do 30 percent more domestic duties than boys, and get paid less pocket money for their work. Gen Y women have grown up watching their mothers juggle work, parenting and domestic duties, while our brothers looked up to fathers who worked and put their feet up. It's no surprise we're replicating it in our homes now we're adults.

I've met many a mother who expects their daughters to help in the kitchen while their sons are brushed away for fear they'll massacre the carrots or break a plate. One of my girlfriends, while at her mother-in-law's home, was asked to help cook dinner while her boyfriend played computer games. When she asked her man to come and help, M.I.L said: "Oh no, darling, he doesn't know how to cook." At my own family Christmas, the boys conveniently disappear shortly after dinner and the women are always left with the mess.

The problem is, when young men are used to a certain kind of service, it makes it hard for their girlfriends and wives to manage.

The women are left with three less-than-ideal choices: purposely ignore the dirty towels on the floor and dishes in the sink (which feels kind of mean, especially when you're newly in love), nag him until he does it, or do it for him.

I often find myself congratulating my boyfriend for performing a simple domestic task, like washing the dishes or cooking dinner, despite the fact that I work double the hours he does and get paid half as much. As if our dinner is my job that he has so lovingly taken off my hands.

This is not okay. It is not my job to teach an adult man how to soak his business shirts or clean the oven. Nor should I feel guilty when I ask him if he doesn't mind whipping by the supermarket to pick up milk, or to get dinner started if I'm running late at work.

It really doesn't take much to get your kids to clean their clothes and wash their plates. Just stop doing it. Either teach them the skills, or take a leaf out of my Mum's book and let them work it out for themselves.

They might reek of stinky washing for a few months and have to turn their undies inside out on occasion, but they'll very quickly learn that mixing colours is a bad idea and that people don't like it when you've got pee in your pants.

And if not? Well, it's not your problem anymore.

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