Parents

Mom teaches 6-year-old son he isn't 'too manly' to cook, clean

Are cooking, cleaning and other household chores on your kids’ to-do list?

Maybe they should be. It’s a hot topic lately thanks to mom Nikkole Paulun’s viral Facebook post, in which she shared photos of her 6-year-old son, Lyle, cooking, loading the dishwasher and doing laundry.

“My son will never be too ‘manly’ to cook or do chores,” Paulun, a former star of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant,” wrote. “He will be the kind of man who can come inside from changing a tire to check on his pot roast.”

Her post has been shared nearly 60,000 times on Facebook, striking a chord with fellow moms and dads everywhere.

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“There are a lot of guys who think chores are just for women, and cleaning is just for women,” Paulun, 23, told TODAY. “Their moms don’t ever teach them to clean or cook. I want to make sure my son isn’t like that.”

Indeed, Lyle can cook a grilled cheese sandwich — and "we're working on pancakes," she said. He also cleans both his and his sister's rooms, makes his bed and helps gather the trash.

Many readers applauded Paulun’s parenting, while others questioned whether she would make her daughter learn “manly” tasks such as car upkeep and yard work. (Paulun said she absolutely will — her daughter is 1 year old.)

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“As a single mom, I do everything. I mow the lawn,” she said. “I’m going to make sure she’s the same way.”

Her take on chores is a smart one, according to TODAY tastemaker Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a child development expert and family physician. Chores teach children necessary skills, provide valuable challenges outside the school environment, and help kids feel connected to their family and its household, she said. Plus, learning a new skill is a source of pride.

“It does the one thing that parents are striving to do for their children: build confidence and competence,” Gilboa said.

And chores, whether they’re in the kitchen or in the garage, don’t depend on gender.

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“Just as we’re starting to recognize that colors don’t have gender, we should also be recognizing that activities don’t have gender,” Gilboa said. “Part of our job is to prepare our kids for the world they’re growing up in, not the world that maybe we grew up in.”

“I think every kid needs to learn every job,” she added. “It’s up to us to ignore stereotypes, so every child learns every job needed to make a home run smoothly.”

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