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Dad Makes 12-Year-Old Do Laundry, Cook Meals & Care For Younger Brother While Mom Is Away — Asks If He's Being 'Cruel'

Photo: Karolina Grabowska, Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels
Son doing chores, dad relaxing

A father decided to punish his son after the preteen complained about his mother not cleaning his clothes correctly.

Posting to the subreddit "r/AmItheA--hole" (AITA) — a forum where users try to figure out if they were wrong or not in an argument that has been bothering them — he explained that his son wasn't showing appreciation for his mother doing the chores around the house, and decided to have him do them instead.

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A dad made his 12-year-old son do laundry, cook meals, and care for his younger brother while his wife was away.

In his Reddit post, he wrote that he had come home one day to hear his son yelling at his mom about his clothes not being clean.

His son had been berating his mother, telling her that it wasn't hard to make sure he had clean clothes to wear. In response, the boy's father decided to punish him accordingly.

"I took him to the laundry room and made him do laundry for the family. I taught him what clothes could go together and what should not," he recalled.

He explained that his wife works as a teacher and that despite having a full-time job, she always makes sure their home is clean and works really hard to maintain all of the chores around the house.

"She tells me what she needs me to do and I take care of it. Beyond my share of the housework, I mean."

He recently decided to send his wife to Mexico with some of her school friends so she could relax and have a vacation, but while she was gone, he opted to continue punishing his son by having him do the chores that were usually hers to do.

"I'm going to work from home that week and keep an eye on the kids. It won't be difficult because I'm putting the older one in charge of the younger one."

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On top of watching his younger sibling, he will also make his son do the laundry, make breakfast and lunch for both him and his sibling, and make sure the kitchen and dining room are cleaned often.

According to Diane N. Quintana, a certified professional organizer, kids learn vital life skills by doing household chores and grow up to be more responsible in their adult lives as a result.

"When you start teaching children to help around the house at a young age, they learn how to be responsible for their living space. They also learn that when everyone living in the home helps with maintaining in the home — it's just part of life. Doing chores and helping around the house is not a punishment," she told YourTango in 2020.

After hearing about all the chores he was tasked to do, the 12-year-old boy complained to his father about having to work over spring break.

"I asked him if he thought it was a full-time job to do all that I was expecting of him. He said yes it was a full-time job. I pointed out that his mother and I both have full-time jobs and still manage to do everything that he is whining about."

He immediately called his grandmother, his father's mom, and asked if he would be able to stay with her for spring break instead. After hearing about the incident, she called out her son for punishing the young boy.

"She tried to tell me I was being cruel to her poor baby," he continued, telling her that when he was his son's age, his father would've given him the same punishment if he had yelled at her over the way she did the chores around the house.

She rebutted, telling him that it was a "different time" when he was a child, but he wouldn't budge, giving her an ultimatum if she wanted to take in her grandson for spring break.

"I said he could stay with her if she was willing to tell him, in front of me, all the punishment I endured when I lived at home," he concluded, noting that she ended up refusing in the end to take him.

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Most Reddit users agreed that he was NTA (Not The A-hole) for giving his son a list of chores to do.

"I do think that you should consider approaching this in a more educational manner than a punitive one, and to treat it as a genuine and earnest learning experience for your son, rather than simply a punishment," one Reddit user wrote.

"That might mean that you need to be patient and make sure he understands what the expectations are with the laundry; how it should be treated and taken care of."

Another user added, "This is brilliant! He's going to learn a lot and be much better for it. This is what good parenting looks like."

"Nothing like walking a week in mom's shoes to gain some much-needed empathy!"

A third user chimed in, "Not only did you stand up against [his grandma], but you're showing your son that his mother is to be respected. At 12, he can do a lot of things without expecting [his] mom to do them."

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics.