The reason I mention this is that Elly usually follows a pattern of sorts when she becomes aware of a concern and it goes something like this:
- Becoming aware of a concern: As I once said long ago, Elly wants to believe that she can drift through life without having to pay attention to her surroundings for a stupid reason I'm about to get to. Since she can't, she's constantly receiving rude, horrifying shocks that only mean people like her mother tell her are way easy to predict.
- Becoming enraged for stupid reasons: Becoming aware of a problem gets Elly all kinds of angry because she thinks a lot of stupid things. She thinks that if she has to pay attention to what her kids are up to, she's magically their slave because she's too stupid to understand what being in charge really means, she's too stupid to understand that 'having a different opinion about a subject' doesn't mean that the person has it wants to beat her down to her knees and she's too stupid to have figured out that kids are people in their own right and not grinning dummies that she can shove in a glass case when she's bored with them. Finally, she's too stupid to admit that they can so pick up her bad traits and not just her good ones.
- Misidentifying the problem: Elly is an astonishingly ignorant, stupid and ill-informed woman at the best of times so it's kind of easy to see that she's going to blame the wrong thing for the wrong problem. In this case, it's not that Mike picked up bad language from her and John , it's that a corrupting outside influence that's to blame for taking her 'good' kid and making him 'bad'. Said influence is the television that has to be why his mouth is a sewer. If it were to go away, someone born stupid would magically become smart.
- Imposing an arbitrary punishment that works against her best interests: Elly isn't especially aware that she looks like the always-angry idiot who hates kids she kind of is so it doesn't occur to someone with her problem with self-awareness that being an inflexible jerk has the lovely side effect of making good things 'bad'. Just as her refusal to sympathize with or encourage Mike in any way "because he'd grow complacent and die in a puddle of his own filth if I gave him the least hint that I actually love him" turned him against trumpet playing, the only thing that this accomplishes is giving him the subconscious desire to make reading a boring and unpleasant chore.
- Sending mixed signals:It is not enough that the punishment be inconsistent with established precedent without it contradicting something else Elly believes in. One cannot seem to declare a war on young adult fiction like she does and expect him to entertain himself by reading appropriate young adult fiction but, as always, Elly "refuses" to argue with you if you point out that he can and cannot dull his mind with the stories of people who never lived.
- Trivializing the blowback: Just as Val Warzone would go on to blithely steamroll over her daughter in the name of 'perspective', Elly doesn't like the idea that her punishments are cruel and unfair so she tends to think that any objections are born out of a need for 'drama'.</li>
- Pulling her punches: As always, Elly wants to have things both ways. She wants to be a disciplinarian they don't dare cross AND her kids' pals so sooner or later, Mike gets the non-punishment Lynn doesn't want to admit he's come to expect. Nothing says "You can take Mom at her word" quite like "Folding at the first sign she's not loved", after all.</li>
The end result of this is that Mike is going to think that reading her kind of 'good' literature is just another dull chore designed to make him say the words he wants to avoid saying: "Mom is right about this, that or the other thing." Lynn and Elly want us to believe that he's being selfish and cruel and wants to turn his back on her great big love. What's really going on is that he wants pointless exercises in futility to come from hatred, ignorance and disrespect.