The raising of a child is a deeply personal affair.
Every parent has their own style and their own limitations to fight through.
So, when a relative has luck in an area that you haven’t, it can cause some serious friction at times.
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Gloomy-Sundae-9915 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for giving my nephew food even after she claims he won’t eat it?”
OP began with the setting and a bit of history.
“My (27 Female) nephew (4) and sister (21) have started staying with me recently.”
“She’s been trying to get a job and has picked up a few odd jobs (cleaning, babysitting) while she is gone I usually babysit my nephew.”
“He just kind of hangs out with me or plays with his toys.”
“I feed him dinner if she’s been gone for a while.”
“When she is home all she feeds him is chips, cookies, candy, cereal, or Mac and cheese.”
“She claims the cereal has all the vitamins and minerals he needs since she puts milk in it as well.”
“Nephew is average in height and weight so he’s not starving, but it’s not the healthiest lifestyle for him. She claims he won’t eat anything else.”
OP took it upon herself to broaden the child’s palette.
“While she’s been gone in the evenings I’ve been introducing new foods to him.”
“He loves vegetables such as raw carrots, peas, and green beans.”
“He also really likes fruit. I’ve been making him waffles, eggs, bacon, oatmeal, and cream of wheat as well and he eats everything. He doesn’t seem picky at all.”
Everything was fine, until…
“She came home last night and he was finishing up a grilled cheese with tomato soup and she flipped out on me.”
“Told me that I shouldn’t be feeding him things that he doesn’t like and that I was force-feeding him by not giving him a choice of what he wanted to be fed.”
“I told her she was absolutely ridiculous and that he enjoyed new foods and that she was just too lazy to ever cook for him and used ready-made meals.”
“She blew up on me for calling her a ‘bad mom’ she’s constructed that I’ve been force-feeding her son while she’s gone and told all her friends who have ganged up on me saying I was out of line and that I overstepped the boundary and I wasn’t his mother.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
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
Redditors decided: NTA
Some thought there might be bigger issues here.
“I think a big part might also be her”
“1. Feeling overwhelmed and going for stuff that’s easy.”
“2. Perhaps just literally not knowing how to make a lot of stuff.”
“I eat in a similar pattern to this (OBVIOUSLY not this bad), but it’s because I’ve got severe depression, and better I eat like sh*t than not at all.”
“However, I’m 21 and just feeding myself, not providing for a small child who needs a lot more than just that” ~ em578
“NTA, but curious: What does your sister eat?”
“Does she cook for herself or eat junk as well?”
“I can’t help but notice that she had him when she was 17, so she has been in charge of feeding him since before most young adults figure out how to feed themselves without parental help.”
“It sounds like she could probably benefit from some parenting classes, but you are probably the last person she wants to hear that from right now.” ~ JeepersCreepers74
“This may be financial. That crappy food is very cheap.”
“Talk to her about it without accusing and see if this is the problem.” ~ BeaArt78
“NTA … but….”
“I’m betting this isn’t about him not eating foods – I’m betting this is about the foods she can afford to feed him and the time she has to make food as a struggling single mom.”
“It’s guilt and fears talking I’d bet and maybe sitting her down and really talking about how you love him and you want to do this for them and she’s not imposing by having him hang out with you while she gets back on her feet.”
“She may have to hear it several times. She may not even realize this is what it is…but that’s my bet.”
“ETA: just saw the age difference too – that kind of adds more weight to my assumption for me.” ~ booksycat
Commenters pointed out how individualistic childhood behavior could be.
“I want to also put out there that some kids just do not eat/behave the same way with mom as they do with their aunt, uncle, grandparents, etc.”
“It can vary with age, routine, boundaries, or a million other things.”
“They can be incredibly stubborn. It’s really frustrating trying to get a kid to eat, and if money is tight she may feel safer getting things he’ll definitely eat rather than ‘risky’ foods he may not like (which then go to waste and that’s money in the trash).”
“Hopefully they can talk about it after emotions are a little less high and work it out.” ~ babywitchbabygay
“Yes I was scrolling to see this mentioned.”
“That’s frustrating to get home as a parent and little Frank has eaten a half pound of string beans for Grammy when you know you’ve wasted twelve hours of your life and $45 of string beans trying to get him to eat them before.” ~ jessie_boomboom
Other commenters felt that OP”s sister just needed help.
“I’d add on that I suspect in his toddler years her son boundary pushed by refusing to eat anything that he didn’t want.”
“It’s developmentally appropriate at that stage and most toddlers go through it.”
“The beige stage.”
“The sister should have keep at least offering the healthier stuff alongside the safe foods and she would have seen that eventually he would start eating it again but she just didn’t realize.” ~ Nordic_Nights
“But… many of the things she’s mentioned are cheap and fast. Grilled cheese and tomato soup, eggs (at least near me went up 250% about two weeks ago but cheap prior).”
“Oatmeal, cream of wheat, waffles (presumably from a box). These are all very cheap and fast meals.”
“Mom is young, and I’m sure there’s some guilt and embarrassment at play here, but I think the son’s limited menu stems from a lack of knowledge and/or maturity.”
“Not time or money, as most of what OP mentioned isn’t more time-consuming or expensive than what mom feeds him.”
“Veggies can be a little on the pricier side, but so are potato chips, milk, and cereal.” ~ FinancialHonesty
“You have to know how to cook all of those, except for the oatmeal.”
“Everything she’s giving him involves zero cooking, or bare minimum (add water to mac and cheese, microwave and stir).”
“Thing is, when you’re broke, cooking when you don’t really know how is high risk.”
“If you f*ck it up and it’s inedible, you’ve already spent your money, so you’re going hungry.”
“If you buy fresh-ish produce on the half-off discount section, there’s a fair chance that it’s gone so far that it’s not usable. But even at half off, that’s still money that’s not coming back.”
“Also, eggs are expensive AF right now – pushing $6/dozen for standard eggs (not the organic, free-range or anything, just generic eggs).”
“Good protein source and all, but they’ve jumped from the 99-cent dozen. I wanted to make breakfast sandwiches a few weeks ago and nearly fell over when I saw the prices of eggs and bacon.” ~ MariContrary
Some commenters were concerned about the mom’s choices.
“Poverty mentality is real. It’s one of the things we don’t talk about or teach people out of in school.”
“It doesn’t mean something isn’t true – it means it’s that person’s reality and adds to their stay in poverty.”
“It’s hard to do better and get educated when you’re exhausted in all ways all the time.” ~ booksycat
“Another thing to remember is that stuff like candy, crisps, etc also tend to have very long shelf-lives compared to healthier options like fresh fruit and veg.”
“It makes them far more appealing to pick up in bulk-buy deals, and you don’t have to worry about having to use them up – or make time to cook or prepare them – ASAP.”
“You can get trapped in the cycle of this mindset.”
“I was raised on oven chips and pie because it was something a nine-year-old could put in the oven while the parent was working long shifts.”
“It wasn’t until I was at university that I started to explore food and cooking from scratch, and actually figuring out what I enjoy eating.”
“And I still consider fruit and veg a luxury (but absolutely worth it when I can).” ~ JunebugSeven
“It’s exactly shelf life. And don’t forget effort to prepare as well.”
“Just because you can technically live off of $15 of groceries doesn’t mean you can adequately prepare and keep fresh veggies at that price point.”
“If I forget strawberries in my fridge, it’s a lot to replace them. Not just the cost but I have to run to the store too.” ~ Yaaaassquatch
Every parent has their own style and their own difficulties.
Don’t forget to offer assistance where you can, and to keep the judgments to yourself unless it’s a very serious situation.