‘Boy moms’ called out for dubious logic behind cooking lessons

Many people are calling out mothers of sons, referred to by some as “boy moms”, for their dubious logic behind teaching their offspring to cook.

The TikTok trend first began when user Laura Elizabeth Graham shared a video of herself cooking in the kitchen with her young son, as she wrote over the clip: “Making sure my son can cook so he’s not impressed by your daughter’s [Stouffer’s] lasagna.”

She continued to write in the video’s caption that her son would need a “home-cooked meal” from his future wife. Meanwhile, fellow “boy moms” also hopped on the trend, as one shared a similar video how she was teaching her son cooking skills so “he’s not impressed by your frozen pizza daughter”.

The videos have since sparked a debate, as many users replied that they were teaching their sons to cook “because it’s a necessary life skill for independence.”

“Teaching my son to cook because it’s a basic necessity,” one person commented under Graham’s video. Another person proclaimed they were “team daughter-in-law,” while one viewer added that the trend was “screaming red flags”.

In response to the TikTok trend, some mothers took the opportunity to point out that showing young boys how to cook, just so that he’s not “impressed” by someone else’s cuisine, only teaches him to expect a higher level of household labour from his future partner.

In fact, TikTok user Payal Desai posted a series of videos showing the ways in which she was teaching her sons how to take care of themselves – emotionally and physically – as they grow older. In one video, Desai showed her sons how to clean the dishes and explained why she does it: “So your daughter doesn’t have to deal with a man who was catered to his whole life.”

Many mothers of young boys also joined in, showing the ways in which they were empowering their sons to be more self-sufficient and responsible. Meanwhile, psychologist and mother Amber Wardell reacted to the TikTok trend, saying in a video: “I’m teaching my son to cook so that he will show up for his future wife as though she’s his partner and not his servant.”

The ongoing trend to categorise parents as a “boy mom” or “girl dad” reportedly perpetuates gender stereotypes. “The gendering process then continues through quite literally every aspect of that child’s life: the pink or blue newborn hospital beanie, the princess or football player clothing gifted at the baby shower, the jungle or fairyland nursery room decor, and of course, the toy trucks or baby dolls,” Dr Jessica N Pabón-Colón – an associate professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at SUNY New Paltz – explained to Refinery29 in 2021.

Pabón-Colón emphasised that juxtaposing opposite genders, in hashtags like #BoyMom, also reinforces supposed gender differences. Speaking to the outlet, she explained that both the #GirlDad and #BoyMom trend “announces the ‘feminine’ mother’s ability to parent a child whose ‘masculine’ gender is different from hers,” and ultimately suggests that parents of the opposite gender have to try harder to relate to their girls and boys.

Although seemingly innocuous, she suggested that this mentality does more harm than good. While the hashtags themselves aren’t harmful, Pabón-Colón emphasised that their stereotypes are limiting.

She argued that “the label ‘boy’ cannot possibly contain [a child’s] personality traits,” and that there’s more to any one person than their sex or gender. “Having a vulva does not explain a child’s desire to have a tea party with their dad any more than having a penis explains a child’s desire to climb a tree with their mom,” Pabón-Colón said.

The Independent has contacted Laura Elizabeth Graham for comment.

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