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Dad Balks After Ex-Wife Insists He Enforce 2-Hour Reading Rule While Teen Son Is At His House

Teenage boy reading a book in school hallway.
Eva-Katalin/Getty Images

Many parents believe that the only way their children will ever learn certain things is to enforce certain rules on them.

Unlucky for these children, whenever they have friends who come over to visit, they too will likely find themselves beholden to these rules.

But when they are in a house different from their own, they might, at last, be free of all the annoying household rules inflicted on them by their parents.

Or, are they?

The ex-wife of Redditor CapableCutlery recently enforced a rule on their son, as well as her two children from her second marriage.

When their son was at the home of the original poster (OP), his ex-wife assumed he would still enforce this rule.

Having trouble making sense of this rule, however, the OP flat out refused to enforce it on his son, much to the horror of his ex-wife.

Wondering if he was doing the right thing, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for refusing to enforce my ex’s ‘reading rule’ on my 15 year old son?”

The OP shed some light on his ex-wife’s reading rule, and why he refused to enforce it when their son stayed at his house.

“So I (45 M[ale]) have a son Callum (15) with my ex wife Amanda.”

“We had an amicable divorce when Callum was two, and so far we’ve been coparenting quite well.”

“Now, I could say a lot of things about Amanda’s parenting, but the long and short of it is that she and her new husband cater their parenting style to their two younger kids together (11 F[emale] and 8m).”

“Because of this, he’s decreased his time at their house ever since he got the choice, and now spends every other weekend at their house.”

“Around a month ago, Amanda and her husband made a ‘reading rule’ for the kids.”

“The 8 year old has to read 30mins a day, the 11 year old has to read for an hour, and Callum has to read for two hours.”

“I have no idea why they did this, I think it’s because the 8 year old is falling behind in his reading level and they wanted to keep things ‘fair’ between the kids.”

“I think that this is ridiculous, as Callum is a very smart kid already, and he needs that time for homework and relaxing since he doesn’t have that much free time to begin with.”

“Amanda let me know that she expected me to enforce the ‘reading rule’ when Callum is at my house.”

“I told her that I would not.”

“She said that it was unfair to Callum’s half siblings that he could just leave for my house and not have to follow the rule, while they had to follow the rule no matter what.”

“I told her tough luck, it’s my house and I make the rules, not her.”

“Well now, Callum is thinking about not staying with her at all anymore due to the increasing strictness of her and her husband’s rules.”

“She told me that it’s all my fault that he doesn’t want to be around her anymore because I was so lax with the rules.”

“I’m pretty sure I’m in the right here, but I though it might be a good idea to get some perspective, so AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation, by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community wholeheartedly agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for refusing to enforce Amanda’s “reading rule” when their son stayed at his house.

Everyone agreed that the OP was absolutely correct in deciding which rules he could and couldn’t enforce in his own home, with many also finding Amanda’s “reading rule” confusing, and possibly counterproductive.


“So how many hours a day are she and her husband reading?”

“They should lead by example and being full grown adults, they probably should be reading for 4 hours/day.”

“Y’know, to keep it fair.”- Viligans


“Requiring your kid to read two hours a day on top of required textbook reading and assigned English class reading seems like a good way to inspire dislike for the hobby.”- 4games1


“That’s a stupid rule. 2 hours a day is a LOT for a 15 yo who has to balance school, chores, friends, homework and hormones.”

“If he WANTS to read that’s fine.”

“But forcing it seems excessive.”

“Especially at that length of time.”

“I get it for the younger kids, it’s a skill they need to develop.”

“As to her ‘it’s not fair’ argument.”

“Neither is having rules forced on him for no legitimate reason.”

“Life sucks, it’s never fair.”

“She can deal.”

“Totally NTA.”- Demented-Alpaca


“This is RIDICULOUS. 2 hours of reading on top of potentially hours of homework?”


“She is damaging her relationship with him and pushing him away and that’s sad but on her.”

“Funny she’s talking about fairness, but the 8 year old has to read for 30 minutes and the 15 year old has to read for 2 hours, despite a 15 year old no doubt having more homework and often more school commitments and other things drawing on their time.”

“If it was 30 minutes as part of his homework I could perhaps understand it, but making him read for 4x more than the 8 year old who actually needs the practice as part of homework, when he doesn’t, is not fair.”- AdrenalineAnxiety


“If she thinks that it’s so unfair, she can get rid of the rule herself.”

“I hate the type of parents who are so hyper focused on making things ‘fair’ that they end up screwing over their kids anyway.”

“It’s no surprise that he wants to stay with the reasonable parent.”- Chaos-in-a-CookieJar

“NTA your co-parent can’t unilaterally decide a rule for both homes.”- Takeme2yourrleader


“She wants him to read for 2 hours EVERY DAY??”

“I’m guessing he’s a sophomore in high school, and has homework and other stuff that goes along with a high school boy, how is he reasonably supposed to do this?”

“I’d say that the time he spends on his homework should count towards that time.”

“Granted, that won’t help over the summer though.”

“I’d encourage him to keep going, but his mom needs to back off on that rule.”

“Especially if he’s reading at/above grade level.”

“He should probably talk to her about it (with you present) so that she can hear what his concerns are directly from him.”- DisneyBuckeye

“There are ways for your wife to have justified asking you to enforce her rules that might create some sympathy.”

“But ‘the other kids think it’s unfair that Callum’s parents are divorced and you share custody’ is not one of them.”

“NTA.”- stannenb


“I am an avid reader.”

“A 2-hour daily reading mandate is absolutely absurd!”

“The ONLY thing this will lead to is your son will hate reading!”- Unable_Ad5655


“If the youngest starts falling behind in math is Callum going to have to do two hours of math worksheets to make things ‘fair’ between them?”- areyoukiddingmern


“That rule is ridiculous and really should only apply to the child having trouble in school.”

“Also the rule isn’t fair at all.”

“The person who has to read the least is the one that needs it the most.”- RLIntellectualpotato

“NTA what does she think he’s doing at school all day and while doing his homework?”

“Fairness isn’t bringing everyone down or holding everyone back to the lowest performers level.”

“Blanket restrictions for the sake of one child are lazy and favoritism.”

“Her rule is completely arbitrary.”

“She’s not teaching her kids anything useful except to resent their younger sibling for being the reason they have extra rules.”

“Good parenting would be explaining to the kid struggling with reading that everyone has different talents and has different areas where they have to work harder.”

“She should be the one taking on extra reading time alongside the struggling child and helping them cope with their struggle.”

“She should be encouraging the older siblings to read with him, but not punishing them in hopes it makes one child feel better.”- 1568314


“What that hell??”

“2 hours of reading?”

“That’s insane!”

“Just because one child is falling behind doesn’t mean you punish the other ones what kind of ridiculous logic is that.”

“The only one if you son decided to move in with you full time is herself.”- ariesgal11

“My ex did the opposite.”

“He actively discouraged reading.”

“Told our son that ‘reading is only for women and [F-word]s’.”

“Our son wanted to please his father, and grew to hate reading.”

“Required reading only made him dislike reading even more.”

“Fast forward to son turning 10.”

“My fiance and I combined households, and my fiance had a plan.”

“He had my son help him unpack boxes, and the third box was quite heavy.”

“They opened it up, and it was full to the brim with comic books.”

“My son loves superheroes.”

“His eyes lit up, and he looked at those comics the way a dragon looks at gold.”

“He asked – hesitantly – could he borrow a couple?”

“My fiancé ‘thought’ about it, then said, in a serious tone, ‘You know, I think you are mature enough to take care of them. You can borrow three at a time’.”


“It was adorable to watch him sift through the comics, with studious attention to titles and characters.”

“His reading speed and comprehension increased.”

“His reading enjoyment grew.”

“But my fiancé wasn’t done with his plan.”

“After a few months, he took my son to the library to ‘check out some comics’.”

“He introduced him to thick, hardcover graphic novels.”

“That night, my son broke the rules and stayed up past bedtime, reading.”

“I’ve never been more happy to see him break the rules!”

“I guess my point is that no one can be forced to enjoy reading (or any other activity).”

“I get having a reading time for younger children, especially if they get to read something they enjoy.”

“But older kids, especially high schoolers, are already reading textbooks, online research, and other written format – as well as assigned reading in English class.”

“Dad is NTA.”

“His house rules are different and that’s okay!”

“If his son has to visit Mom and follow her rules, help him pick out a book that will interest him.”

“That will make the reading time feel more pleasurable and less onerous.”- DameLibrio

All parents should do what they can to get their children away from screens for at least a few hours a day.

Forcing them to read, however, likely won’t instill a love of reading in them.

The fact that Amanda’s rule seems to even require Callum to read before he finished his homework and chores, makes her enforcing it all the more confusing.

Leaving one to think that the OP saw the flaws in her plan.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.