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Dad At Odds With Indian Wife After Swapping Out Daughter’s Lunches So She Won’t Get Teased

An Indian woman, in a kitchen, offers a lunch bag
India Pix/India Picture/Getty Images

Middle school is not for the faint of heart.

That’s the time kids are coming into their own personalities and problems.

It can be arduous to be yourself and fit in.

And sometimes it’s all about what you eat.

Case in point…

Redditor throwawayy029482 wanted to discuss his experience and get some feedback. So naturally, he came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

He asked:

“AITA for switching out my daughter’s school lunches behind my wife’s back?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“My wife Sara (36 F[emale]) and I (35 M[ale]) have an 11-year-old daughter named Lily.”

“Lily had begun attending 6th grade in September, but this problem only recently became a major issue.”

“Sara is Indian and makes great dishes that the whole family enjoys, and tends to pack these lunches for Lily as well.”

“She typically packs Lily rice with dal in a container or something similar, which she had no issues with an elementary school.”

“However, recently Lily came sobbing to her mom and me about the lunches she took.”

“The kids at school had been making fun of her food, which absolutely made my heart break.”

“I had struggled with the same thing at her age (I come from a Chinese family and would always take homemade food to school too).”

“And when I asked her if she wanted us to report the problem, she begged us not to so she wouldn’t be called a ‘snitch’ or worse.”

“When Sara heard this, she simply contacted the principal, which I didn’t want to resort to at first, and left the issue, telling Lily she wouldn’t be buying school lunch and to just ignore the other kids.”

“The same problem occurred every day.”

“Lily would be coming home feeling extremely upset and there were even times Sara would yell at Lily for not even touching her school lunch.”

“We both had talks with Lily about her culture and how she should be proud.”

“We have contacted the schools, but the school is ignorant of the issue (they simply had a talk with the parents, and ended it there) and Lily isn’t budging.”

“I don’t want her to starve, because so many days she doesn’t even eat her lunch.”

“I know how brutal middle schoolers can be, and I didn’t want Lily to feel insecure or upset even if it meant making her take other lunches, but Sara refuses to make other lunches.”

“I began to make other lunches for Lily, like sandwiches, or sometimes mac n’ cheese, so she’d feel more comfortable eating it in school in front of her classmates as a final resort when nothing else worked.”

“I would take Lily’s lunch for myself at work and pack her own lunch early in the morning, which she finished and seemed happier when coming home daily after.”

“However, this only worked for about 2 weeks until Sara found out and was infuriated.”

“She said I was denying Lily her culture and she needed to learn to stop being insulted by other kids.”

“Telling me I’m raising Lily to get whatever she wants.”

“Is Sara right?”

The OP was left to wonder…


Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA:

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

Many Redditors declared OP was NOT the A**hole.

“NTA. Middle school is a time when kids are merciless to each other.”

“It is also a time when children want to fit in and when they start to exert control over those things that their parents used to do for them.”

“Your wife is not helping your daughter exert agency and make choices.”

“Her dismissal of your daughter’s concerns and wishes are bound to create resentment and will result in a massive blow-up when your daughter is older.”

“Worse yet, it almost guarantees that she will reject all things related to her ancestral culture because she’ll associate that culture with conflict on all sides.”

“Discuss compromises such as keeping the home foods for after-school snacks.”

“But even more importantly, encourage your wife to listen to your daughter’s concerns and to take her wishes seriously.”  ~ Individual_Ad_9213

“I think I’m gonna go with this comment as the best one.”

“I do want to add that OP definitely needs to talk to the child’s mother and NOT go behind her back. Parents /need/ to be on the same page. It really, really, really affects the kid.”

“Plus, two parents going to the principal to push for changes—double whammy.”

“Holy crap, you all need to stop responding to my comment about the mother and father. Good lord.”

“I’m here for the kid and their well-being, and at the end of the day, going behind another parent’s back is NOT setting a good example, and it’ll lead to more chaos in the child’s home. Muting this comment, goodness gracious.” ~ Widdlebuggo

“NTA, I’m Indian, and you say you’re denying Lilly’s culture is bulls**t.”

“Because her food is food and she needs her energy from somewhere, it’s better for her to give her relatively western food than she doesn’t eat at all.” ~ neglected_maria19

“This whole issue is rooted in forced assimilation.”

“Yes, it is – on a tiny scale in one home.”

“OP’s wife is using her dominant authority position as a parent to force their daughter to assimilate mom’s culture, telling her she has to be Indian instead of letting her express her natural identity as an American with Indian and Chinese heritage.”

“If it were only that mom prefers to cook cultural foods or felt that certain options are unhealthy, then that would be different, but that’s not the problem.”

“She’s not happy even when dad is making the lunches, and she hasn’t raised any health concerns.”

“Her problem is that the food is not Indian and that Lily shouldn’t be denying her Indian culture by eating non-Indian food.”

“She has to accept that a kid raised in America is sometimes going to want to eat the same food she sees other American kids eating.”

“Kids want to fit in, so put them in the environment you want them to emulate.” ~ MediumSympathy

“Yes, you both needed to have a united front on this from the beginning.”

“Your easy acceptance of just doing whatever your child wanted and avoiding conflict by not discussing it with your wife was not an okay way to handle things.”

“While mom had a bit of an overreaction, you had an opposite underreaction.”

“This absolutely needed to be reported to the school by both of you.”

“I wouldn’t have allowed myself to be brushed off with a phone call.”

“All schools in the US supposedly have zero-tolerance antibully policies.”

“I can’t believe we’re the progressive country in this.”

“I’d demand a meeting with the principal in person.”

“Talking to the parents will do no good, but they probably ought to be called again.”

“The administration needs to talk to the mean little sh*ts who did it.”

“See if that could make some progress?”

“Does the school do any cultural awareness classes?”

“They usually have these near the beginning of the school year to help make kids less nasty to each other.”

“Frankly, this is also pretty overtly racist.”

“Regardless, you need to support your wife in making whatever inroads they can.”

“Then, do what this above fellow human suggested, let your daughter take foods she is comfortable with.”

“You and your wife were unable to ‘make people stop being (racist) bullies’ at that age any better than your daughter is.”

“That’s OK. She’s 12.”

“She’s coming to grips with the ugly fact that there are cruel people who thrive on being cruel.”

“The fact that they found a victim and continued to allow herself to be a victim all that time means she may find things difficult for a while, even without changing foods.”

“I’d be checking in with her daily about how she’s managing.”

“Another thought is about eating disorders.”

“Forcing kids to eat food and make food a battlefront is prime set up for disordered eating.”

“Make sure you guys are supportive instead of reactive at home.”

“I hope things get better for your daughter.”

“Most of my bullies live in trailer parks with crappy boyfriends now, if it’s any comfort to her.” ~ PlanningMyEscape

“I think OP is NTA.”

“I do think the school is a bit of an A, though.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if they incorporated food from different cultures in the cafeteria, taught kids how to cook a range of cuisines, did some actual cross-cultural teaching, and so on?”

“I grew up as a migrant in a small country school, and that’s what the school did to help everyone learn about each other’s cultures and to help us all get along.”

“Not saying the place was perfect or that it totally abolished the isms our world is plagued with, but it was brilliant.” ~ Puskarella

“The mother wants to fight on the children’s backs.”

“No, actually, her child should fight for something that is important for the mother.”

“But it is a child.”

“She can cherish her culture in so many ways.”

“And the child lives in this country; it is also her home.”

“It is not wrong to adapt to the lifestyle of the country they live in. It isn’t a betrayal of the culture.”

“The mother must accept that this country is her home, and so the daughter will also want to adapt. NTA.” ~ EvilFinch

Well, OP, sounds like Reddit is with you.

Your intentions are good.

This is a problem that needs addressing.

The school needs to do some stepping up around meal time and bullying.