Rule #61: Discourage Most Forms of Reading

in Rules of Parenting

Jimmy, put that trash away. Don't you know that crap will rot your already tiny brain?

Jimmy, put that trash away. Don't you know that crap will rot your already tiny brain?

Remember that time in junior high when you were so enthralled by Moby Dick that you read deep into the night and barely slept an hour?

And the other times—too numerous to count—that you slept through your high-school morning alarm because you fell madly, passionately in love with the melodious phrasing of Joyce and the intellectual bravado of Bellow?

Oh, wait. That never happened.

It never happened because reading sort of hurts your head (the temporal lobe, if you’re looking for a specific area) and, despite what the well-meaning, NPR-listening crowd says, reading is just a bunch of words and stories that aren’t nearly as interesting as the shit going down in your neighborhood or on TV.

But What if Your Child Digs Reading?

First, don’t panic. Like most socially awkward stages such as being kind to the elderly or raising money for people who don’t actually have money, it’s better just to let your child grow out of reading by seeing the error of his ways.

However, if your son doesn’t grow weary of all those words and of turning countless pages, it’s important to address the issue head on. Notice the “tough love” and “straight talk” in the dialogue below, which will undoubtedly help your child understand how worried you are:

You (invoke casual tone, pointed subject): Son, I notice you’ve been reading a lot.

Brandon (barely looking up from R.L. Stine): Huh, what? Dad, just a sec—I want to finish this chapter.

You (use a firm voice): Brandon, you obviously have a problem, and I think we need to talk about it. Right. Now.

Brandon: Dad, OK, I won’t pee in the carport any more; it’s such a long walk to the bathroom, though.

You (outline what’s acceptable and what isn’t): Hey, I’m fine with you peeing in the carport—it’s this reading habit you’ve formed that has your mother and me worried. Son, you have a problem, and I think it needs to be addressed.

Brandon: But I like to read, dad.

You (use a pointless example): Well, damn it, son, I like to shoot neighborhood cats with my pellet gun, but that doesn’t make it right.

Brandon: But you still do it, dad, like, all the time.

You (drive home the point): Damn it, son, this isn’t about me—this is about you. And you have a problem. We need to get you some help.

Brandon: What?

You (explain that you want him to be just like every other failure-bound kid): We’ll get you help, you know, so you won’t read books any more and be more like normal kids. You, your mom and I are in this together. We’re going to face this thing head on. We’ll even get you a flat-screen high-def for your bedroom – maybe even a hooker – whatever it takes.

Brandon (literally dumbfounded): What?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin November 17, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I definitely remember fumbling my way through an English class test on Moby Dick. I never read the damn book or any of the other “required reading” books, and I got an A in that class. I’m still a better writer than most. Way to go, school.


jason November 17, 2009 at 9:12 pm

I stopped reading Moby Dick the moment I realized it wasn’t a porno. Sadly, it took me like 150 pages to realize that.


SillyDad November 17, 2009 at 10:06 pm

So, I only read enough to know you are opposed to reading. Then I got a headache from reading.

I cured my son from his desire to read by encouraging him to sit as close to the TV and computer screens until he needed glasses. Then I didn’t get them for him. Now he can only read text that is 32 pt. or larger. Problem. Solved.

Writing that was hard. I need to go drink heavily now. Or smoke peyote. I’ll see you in a couple months.


Rachel November 18, 2009 at 7:27 am

I nevre lurnd 2 reed & i am fiine. gud onya!


kitty November 19, 2009 at 5:58 pm

I thought that said carpet.
carpet is much funnier.


MarinkaNYC February 28, 2010 at 11:42 am

very funny, but if your kid is really reading a lot, you should seek professional assistance. Doing it on your own, can just make matters worse.


the mama bird diaries February 28, 2010 at 7:13 pm

I love this. Hilarious.


Creed August 22, 2010 at 2:14 am

I got bored before you told me how to stop a child from reading, I think I’ll just lose his glasses while he is in the shower. He looks like a dweeb in them anyways.


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