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Parent Scolded For Not Feeding Grandkids Gluten-Free Food Since Son And DIL Didn’t Buy Any

grandmother and granddaughter eating toast
skynesher/Getty Images

There are people with food allergies, food sensitivities and medical disorders or diseases that affect their bodies ability to digest certain foods.

For example, people of the global majority are often lactose intolerant because for millennia cow’s milk wasn’t part of our diets. Some human populations have consumed some form of animal milk for about 10,000 years and as a baby food for about 8,000 years.

But for Indigenous Americans like me, dairy products were first introduced to our diets between 500 to 100 years ago.

Our biology still hasn’t fully adapted to digest cow’s milk without some often odorous side effects.


But I don’t have an allergy to dairy products—lactose intolerance is a food sensitivity.

My gastrointestinal tract might protest my love affair with Ben & Jerry, but my immune system doesn’t try to assassinate me for it.

A cow’s milk allergy can cause anaphylaxis—an immune reaction that can be as mild as an itchy rash or hives or as serious as swelling and narrowing of the airways leading to asphyxiation and death.

Milk is the third most common food allergy to cause anaphylaxis. Tree nuts are second and the legume peanuts are first making them the deadliest.

Food allergies and sensitivities have near immediate effects on the body, but little to no longterm impact if treated immediately.

However diseases or disorders like phenylketonuria, celiac and lupus may not always show an immediate reaction to certain foods, but repeated consumption can cause life altering complications and even death.

Understanding whether a person has a sensitivity, an allergy or a disease or disorder is important when choosing menu items.

A grandmother who is still trying to understand her daughter-in-law’s recent celiac diagnosis and how to eat gluten-free turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

HarlotteHoehansson asked:

“AITA for not buying special groceries?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“My son (30) and his wife decided to live the ‘van life’. In my opinion they are homeless, but it is by choice.”

“Their long term plan is (was?) to move into a campground and live out of the van and a tent. They are already on food stamps and she gets disability from the Army.”

“This idea lasted about 2 weeks, then my husband got a call around 10:30pm Saturday from my son.”

“They were in California, and he said the baby—3 years-old—was ‘in the hospital’ and they had no food and no money.”

“They live off of her military disability. My son’s entire adult life has been one stupid decision after another.”

“I have 2 other children that turned out to be responsible adults. Our son and his wife still talk to our family.”

“But she cut her parents and family out of her life because her parents fed the kids McDonald’s.”

“I wish I was kidding.”

“We sent them $500 to get home. By midnight they were on the road here. They got here Sunday morning about 8am.”

“Later we found out the baby developed a fever of 103°, so they took her to the ‘hospital’ which turned out to be a walk-in clinic that mainly treats addicts. The clinic basically gave her Tylenol then sent her home.”

“They drove all night to get here. They showed up with no food, no money and the van was on ‘E’.”

“The mom walked once around my house—including the kitchen—without raising any issues. My son and his wife went to bed the morning they arrived and left the girls without any instructions or requests.”

“They didn’t even give the 3-year-old Tylenol or check her temperature before they went to bed.”

“So we fed our granddaughters—3 years-old and 6 years-old—breakfast. We made them what they asked for—like we always have—and they didn’t get sick.”

“The girls begged for scrambled eggs and toast. We figured the 6-year-old knows if she can eat toast or not, but maybe they miss toast and fibbed to us or they thought it was gluten-free toast.”

“Anyway, they never got sick. But my son got irate—when he got out of bed—because toast is gluten.”

“This is all new to us.”

“Their mom assumes the kids are ‘allergic’—her word—because she was diagnosed with celiac a few months ago. But neither girl has been tested or diagnosed.”

“Mother was told to cut gluten from her diet because she has issues with it. She assumes that because celiac is genetic the girls definitely both have the same issues.”

“I’m just relaying what she told me about her diagnosis. They have all eaten gluten their whole lives until now.”

“We hadn’t seen them since the diagnosis. We were just told they were going gluten-free and to try not to feed them gluten. No list, no examples of what they could or couldn’t eat.”

“When DIL was diagnosed, I did a lot of reading about what celiac is. But the research doesn’t tell you what to buy.”

“I’ve seen things marked gluten-free in the store and some of it is bread. My bread packaging warns it ‘contains soy and may contain traces of milk, eggs and sesame’. It doesn’t say it contains gluten.”

“We didn’t go shopping between when they called at 10:30 pm Saturday night and when they arrived at 8 am Sunday morning. All-night convenience stores don’t specialize in gluten-free groceries.”

“But our son expected us to go to the store while they slept and buy gluten-free food for them all. I said we just sent them $500 and couldn’t afford to go buy a bunch of food that we don’t know anything about.”

“They should provide that when they visit someone’s home on such short notice. Had we not just given them $500, we would have bought the proper food when one of them could go to the store with us.”

“A huge fight ensued.”

“They left yesterday and, according to text messages, won’t ever be back.”

“AITA for not providing that food?”

The OP summed up their situation.

“I might be the a**hole because they are my grandchildren, and I should provide what they need to eat while their parents are crashing here.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

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

Some Redditors couldn’t decide if the OP was an a**hole, opting for a request for more information (INFO). 

“INFO: is there a diagnosed medical reason the children are gluten-free?” ~ TheDrunkScientist

“INFO: Did they decide to ‘live the van life’ or are they just broke and homeless? Cause this makes it sound like they are homeless.” ~ Icy_Sky_7521

“INFO: do any of the other family members mentioned have a diagnosed gluten intolerance, sensitivity, allergy or celiac?” ~ Upper_Release_7850

“INFO: Has anyone called CPS to report the parents for willfully putting their children in harm’s way by choosing to be homeless and live in a van? The baby was hospitalized with a high fever after living out of a van, but it wasn’t a real hospital?”

“Gluten is the least of the issues here. Call the police.” ~ tippychino

But some had no problem passing judgment. 

“I don’t need extra info. If you are traveling with kids with dietary needs, you are responsible for keeping those foods on hand. Period.”

“You should never expect anyone else to accommodate your or your children’s restricted diet. That’s on the children’s parents. The parents need to be proactive about the diet, not anyone else.” ~ Mysterious_Glass622

“Does your son often do stupid sh*t like this? Where did the $500 go if they drove home and brought no food? Do these people have jobs?” ~ stinkyundercarriage

“The parents have voluntarily made their children homeless. Do we really think they’re making any good choices for their children? NTA.” ~ CatlinM

“NTA. I can’t have gluten, pork nor dairy, but I wouldn’t expect my in-laws to get me my special food for lots of reasons.”

“But I can think of 5 reasons related directly to your situation:”

“1 – they were in your house—a house of people that are OK to eat gluten and therefore have gluten food—with very short notice”

“2 – you just gave them a lot of money”

“3 – they are adults and should be able to provide their own food, but they were already failing at providing basics for themselves and their kids”

“4 – they’re a bunch of people avoiding gluten, which is already expensive for one person to do, but doing it as a whole family would skyrocket the cost of groceries”

“5 – they are visiting family, not an all-inclusive resort!”

“They can cook their own food and should be grateful you tried to feed the kids so they could rest even when you aren’t as informed on gluten specifics.”

“What you did wasn’t done with malice, and if the kids asked for toast and they were OK after eating it, then it isn’t as severe for the kids.”

“With all that in consideration, they should not be acting as angry and entitled to the point of saying they aren’t coming back and that you should have bought them gluten-free food.”

“But I honestly believe that won’t be true. They’re gonna be back the next time they want your money, your housing, and your food for free.” ~ Bubbly-Guitar-8053

“NTA. Why is everyone coming at the grandma with the celiac disease bullsh*t? She did more than most.”

“Sent her son $500 to drive back home because he chose a dumb** lifestyle he can’t afford with a family, and then she fed her grandbabies that don’t have an actual gluten-related diagnosis.”

“Even if the babies did, that’s on the parents to make sure what they need is available, not on the grandparent who naturally will feed their grandchildren anything the kids want.” ~ Imaginary-Local-948

“NTA. Whether the gluten issue is real or not is irrelevant. Your son & daughter-in-law should have been more understanding of the mistake rather than cause a ruckus.”

“And expecting that you will be the one to provide the special food without any prior agreement or list of foods is entitled. They should be thanking you for helping them.” ~ possiblycrazy79

“NTA because math and medicine.”

“8 hours of driving, even at a steady speed of 75 miles per hour, is about 600 miles. Even if their ‘life van’ gets only 15 miles per gallon, that’s 40 gallons of gas. Even if they only bought Premium gas which is averaging $5.48 per gallon in California, that’s $220.00 for gas.”

“They had at least $280 to get gluten-free food in California, en route or when they arrived. Or they could have returned what’s left of the $500 with a list of gluten-free food they wanted and ASKED if you could go to the store.”

“They’re the ones who are choosing a complete gluten-free diet for their whole family because of mom’s celiac diagnosis, so they’re supposed to be the experts on what that means.”

“You’re correct that some products without gluten say ‘gluten-free,’ but unlike soy, dairy, eggs, or nut warnings, not everything that contains gluten says it contains gluten on the label.”

“If they wanted or needed specific things, they could have asked for it like adults. Instead, they announced their choice to abstain from gluten-containing foods and expected you to figure it out without input or guidance from them.”

“I notice they had no trouble asking for money, so why was writing a freaking shopping list and asking you to go shopping so hard? They could have written the list during the 8 hour drive or the time they were inspecting your home.

“They won’t be gone long. They just want you to apologize for their irresponsible parenting and beg them to come back to mooch off you some more. They’ll scurry back as soon as they want money.” ~ LakotaGrl

Hopefully the OP gets a chance to enjoy their vacation from their son’s life choices.

It probably won’t last long.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.