One of the jobs of a parent is to teach their children how to be responsible, contributing adults.
That all starts with giving them responsibilities in the home, which some minors will rebel against, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor aitadirtydishes had created a system in her home for everyone to take turns with the house chores, and her teenage son consistently did not complete his share of tasks.
When her son began to give her an attitude about it, the Original Poster (OP) thought of a unique form of punishment to teach him a lesson.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for making my son eat off of dirty dishes?”
The OP struggled to get her son to participate properly in house chores.
“This happened two months ago, but my son is still furious over it.”
“I (45 Female) love my oldest son, but he’s 17 and acts like it.”
“Our family rotates chores. Cooking, dishes, and cleaning common areas are all done by each family member on different days.”
“My son hates chores and always tries to half-a** it to get out of doing it. It’s been a constant battle.”
“Dishes are the worst. He overpacks the dishwasher so the dish detergent can’t even get on the dishes. It just catches on whatever pan he shoved in front.”
“He also doesn’t rinse the dishes at all, so they come out dirty and caked in food.”
“If we want to eat the day after he does dishes, we end up having to handwash them.”
“He doesn’t care. Any attempt to talk to him is met with a little smirk and he would say, ‘But the dishwasher sanitized it.’ He knows exactly what he’s doing.”
The OP had enough of it.
“The day after his night to do dishes, I went to cook dinner. All the dishes were in the washer still, filthy.”
“I had worked all day. I was exhausted. I honestly teared up seeing this bulls**t.”
“I didn’t have the energy to make dinner, let alone do an entire load of dishes first.”
“I quietly called my husband in, and he offered to handwash the dishes I needed.”
“Lightbulb moment. I told him, ‘Yes please,’ but only enough dishes for preparing the food and serving everyone, except our son.”
“I made dinner and called the kiddos to eat.”
She presented her son with his punishment.
“Our 17-year-old sat down and saw his setting was empty. He asked where his plate and silverware and water cup were.”
“I pointed to the dishwasher and said, ‘Tonight you’ll be eating off of the dishes you did. Go pick them out.'”
“He went pale and started protesting that it was gross.”
“I quickly cut him off and reminded him that the dishwasher sanitized them.”
“My husband backed me up. If he wanted to eat tonight, he would eat off his dishes.”
“He huffed and said he’d wash some.”
“I said, ‘Nope, you had your chance to get them clean last night. Eat off them as they are or don’t eat tonight.'”
“He yelled and said that he’d make his own food, to which I also said no.”
“Eventually, he relented and found the least disgusting dishes and ate his dinner quietly.”
The OP felt conflicted after dinner.
“I felt bad. He looked so sick and grossed out.”
“But I was sick of him wasting time and water and detergent.”
“And it worked! His dishes came out spotless after. Not a speck.”
“But like I said, he’s still furious, and I do feel bad now that it’s over and done with.”
“I’m just sick of the weaponized incompetence. He doesn’t realize that his laziness f**ks over everyone else in the house.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some agreed that the son absolutely knew what he was doing.
“He absolutely knew… If he didn’t know, he wouldn’t even hesitate to eat off from something he ran through the dishwasher.” – LittleThoughtBubbles
“He was doing the bare minimum, knowing the next person has to do more to make up for his lack of care.” – SomethingJayhawks
“NTA, and I think you handled this beautifully.”
“However, I have to disagree with you on the following: ‘He doesn’t realize that his laziness fucks over everyone else in the house.'”
“He knows. He doesn’t care.” – DerTW13
“He definitely knows and doesn’t care. It’s the smirk. My now 18-year-old would do that and it would fly up my a** every time.”
“As if it’s cute to make someone who just worked a 60-hour week of overtime clean up after your selfish a** because, ‘tee hee, ain’t I a stinker?’ Like it’s a funny joke to steal someone else’s hard-earned free time.”
“Ugh, after years of that bulls*t, I swear I am triggered by cheeky little ‘whoopsie’ grins. Being lazy and selfish is not endearing or cute.” – Cloberella
“My brilliant son would try the trick of doing a chore quite poorly, with the hope that he wouldn’t be asked to do that particular chore again.”
“I squashed that, telling him he would do that chore until he did it perfectly. Ruined his fun.”
“I’m sorry OP fell for his shenanigans but he’s learned now. NTA.” – momtotherescue
“This is how things were handled in my house growing up. If you didn’t do a chore right, you weren’t done with it yet.”
“He learned that he can skip most of the work and just throw dirty dishes in the dishwasher however he could, and he’ll be done.”
“If he had to actually complete the cleaning of the dishes every time, this would have stopped a long time ago.” – Laney20
Others appreciated how the OP’s punishment forced her son to directly examine his efforts.
“The fact that OP and her husband have gotten in the habit of cleaning the dishes after their son failed to clean them properly means he was never learning his lesson. What he actually learned is that ‘even when I do something wrong, my parents will have to fix my mistake because they have to eat as well.'”
“What OP did was brilliant, because he’s 17 and it’s time to learn how to do things correctly. The fact that he, ‘somehow,’ figured out how to do dishes correctly overnight shows he knows how to do them, but was being purposefully obtuse about it.”
“Good job, OP!” – numbersthen0987431
“NTA. You probably should have done this long ago. If he doesn’t experience consequences he’s not going to grow up and be less selfish, and he is at an age where this is not going to be typical or understandable behavior very, very soon.” – Temporary_Badger
“NTA. If he thought it was clean enough for you guys, then it should be clean enough for him, too.”
“Way to go, mom! Maybe talk to him and ask why he’s so upset over it. And then discuss how it made you and everyone else feel when he kept doing it?”
“He’s probably p**sed, because you beat him at his own game.” – ConcernedMacaroni912
“He’s mad because his mom called him out on it.”
“OP, NTA. If she hadn’t done something about it, he would have ended up doing that and more to avoid chores in his future marriage or relationships.” – likejackandsally
“My wife’s family used to have everyone help with the dishes after meals. My BIL and SIL (12 and 14 respectively at the time) figured out that they could avoid dishes if they employed a few different strategies.”
“My BIL always had to poop right after eating, and my SIL tried to convince everyone that she was incompetent by claiming that she did not know how to load the dishwasher. My MIL and FIL would end up doing the dishes most nights despite cooking and working.”
“When my wife and I came home for a visit, we caught on to what was happening and took turns dealing with the dishes. I waited until my BIL left the bathroom, and brought him back to scrub the dishes. I would not let him use the dishwasher since he was skipping out on helping.”
“My wife ‘taught’ my SIL how to do the dishes by standing over her and instructing her on each dish. My SIL got frustrated because my wife was talking to her like she was one of my wife’s 3rd-grade students. My wife told her don’t act dumb, and I won’t treat you like you are dumb.” – chop1125
While the OP felt conflicted after seeing how angry her son still was with her, the subReddit reassured her that she had done the right thing.
Not only was this something that her son needed to learn before moving into his own home, but it was also only fair for him to share in the responsibilities of their home.
Also, his response that the dishes were sanitized clearly wasn’t true if he didn’t think the dishes were clean enough for him to eat off of after it was his turn to put them in the dishwasher.