Most of us know the right thing to do. The question is whether or not we’re brave enough to do it.
And when it comes to outing a family member for doing wrong, it can be that much harder to do what’s right.
One teen found this out when they decided to report their own mother, according to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor ReactivationCode-1 struggled with this decision, wondering if they were in the wrong.
The Original Poster (OP) asked the sub:
“AITA for getting us banned from the local food pantry?”
From the beginning, it was clear the situation was complicated.
“Let’s just say my mother has issues. Extreme issues.”
“We’re really struggling financially and she is going well off the deep end in order to compensate.”
“For example, she will spend all her food stamps money in one go. I mean cart fulls of food and food products. Right down to the very last cent.”
“She then stuffs the fridge, freezer, and pantry so full of food that the house is bursting at the [seams]. Then, get this: she will literally touch nothing until everything goes bad.”
“She buys hundreds of dollars worth of food, goes out to eat instead of using anything she bought, and we end up throwing everything out.”
“I tried telling her to ration the food stamp money throughout the month. Not blow it all in one day and not touch anything she bought.”
The OP believes this might be a symptom of hoarding.
“So you have a bit of an idea of what I’m dealing with here.”
“To me, it seems like she packs the house full of stuff in order to ignore the reality of our financial situation. The hoarding is her way of putting up barriers. Veiling herself from the truth.”
“Another aspect of her denial is the local food pantry. She insists on going every week, even if we don’t have room for anything.”
“Guess what happens to that entire car full of food? Waste. Goes in the trash.”
“I tried telling her to stop but she refuses to.”
But then another problem developed.
“Week after week of throwing food out is finally getting to her because now she goes to the pantry, gets the food for free, and re-sells it for money. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is illegal.”
“Not sure if it’s better than throwing all the food out because she’d rather have McDonald’s than a home-cooked meal.”
“Then she found out from her friend that you can go back through the pantry more than once if you’re sneaky about it. So she’s been trying that.”
The OP finally decided to put a stop to it.
“It was at this point I called the pantry and told them what’s going on. I reported my mother anonymously. She has since been banned from the pantry.”
“I know the concept is great and we could benefit from it, but I don’t want my mother taking full advantage of the kindness and compassion of volunteers working for a good cause.”
“Yeah, it was a shot in the foot, but one I feel was necessary.”
Since posting, the OP has also answered some questions from the sub.
“Do I cook the food? Yes. Some of it. I cook what I can.”
“But the problem is that no matter how much we clean out the fridge, she keeps it so stocked that I can’t put anything in there.”
“Not even leftovers. It’s why I’m somewhat discouraged from cooking.”
“What do we do with waste? Unfortunately, we can’t just donate it back or to other places. [The pandemic], for one.”
“We do try to give the food to other people in need but Mom sees that as a wasted opportunity to make money. She doesn’t want us to give away food without having money in return.”
“So she would rather throw out what she can’t sell instead.”
“Where is my Dad in this? He lives with us but he’s given up hope. He simply doesn’t fight her.”
“The thing with him is he hates food. He’s the kind of person who wants a block of blah with your essential nutrients and vitamins.”
“Nothing else. So he really doesn’t care.”
“How old am I? 25. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I still live with [my] parents.”
“Do we eat though? Yes. I do, personally. I try to cook more. Less eating out.”
“How does she afford to eat out when we’re on Food stamps? Mom doesn’t work and she has complete control over my father’s finances.”
“Again, he has completely given up and [lets] her do whatever she wants.”
Fellow Redditors rated the OP’s situation on the following scale:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said OP was NTA, stating the mother was being highly unethical.
“NTA. If there is food that can be used to cook meals, but isn’t being used and instead wasted while abusing a system that is used to alleviate difficulties for profit, then it’s just wrong.”
“You’re preventing food that could be given to someone who needs it from being sold for personal gain.” – 132Sunny
“NTA. What she is doing is just not right. It isn’t ethical. Period.” – advait2701
“NTA. I’m sorry you’re going through tough times, but your mom is exploiting a system made to help people who cannot afford necessities.”
“She’s taking from other people in your shoes and wasting it or worse taking advantage of those same people by having them pay for the food she took. You did the right thing in reporting her, if only to stop the exploitation.” – jonah_sachs
Others agreed the mother was unethical but said there were NAH, pointing out poverty could be impacting the mother’s mental health.
“NAH. Sad situation. My parents hoard food only to end up going out to eat most of the time as well, both are unemployed and I don’t know how they pay for it.”
“But honestly, it’s going to be exhausting to get in between your parents and behaviors like this. Likely your mom will just find another pantry.”
“Hoarding is a serious mental health condition and I recommend you move out as soon as possible, and don’t try to fix it because it will drain you.” – Justanotherhottie
“NAH because it sounds like your mother is mentally unwell, and I find it hard to call someone like that an A-H. (If she weren’t, though, she would be a huge one.) Are there mental services for hoarding available in your area?” – murano84
“While what OPs mom is doing is not good, it’s very clear she doesn’t need to be banned from the food pantry and from using food stamps, she needs long term mental health care.” – FewPosts0
“Heya, I work at a food bank. I’m so sorry for your situation, people don’t realize that poverty can take such a huge toll mentally.”
“I think you did the right thing letting them know, but I would call them and fully explain your situation and see if they have any recommendations.”
“There may be kitchens that you could go to for a cooked meal once a week, for instance, or they may be able to help your mother get care for her mental health.”
“Please believe me that her behaviour, although erratic, is by no means unique. We see people do this a lot as a reaction to scarcity and they will not be surprised or judge you for it. Truth is you both need support. NAH.” – HeyThereJemima
Others agreed with this assessment.
“I have a feeling that the mom also traumatized by her childhood where she barely have anything to eat. But it doesn’t add up with the takeout and exploiting.” – Reigo_Vassal
“NTA try to get your mom some counseling. Hoarding is a really devastating and difficult disorder.” – KatJen76
“Your mum sounds unwell. I’m guessing there’s little chance of getting her treatment if your dad is going along with it.”
“You are definitely NTA and finding ways to curb the worst of her behavior may be all you can do.” – ACatGod
“My first thought was definitely that mom is depressed and probably has grand plans for the food shes buying/getting but ends up not having the mental energy to do any of the work” – Vincent-Mango-gh
“I think it’s more about hoarding. If the pantry is full then she can tell herself they have food and won’t starve and everything will be OK.”
“If she eats the food in the pantry then it’s gone and it might never be back and that’s inducing panic. Hoarding is a notoriously difficult mental illness to treat. I feel bad for both OP and the mom.” – Traveller22
We can probably all agree, the mother was wrong for wasting and reselling the food another family in need could have used.
However, as many Redditors pointed out, there might be an explanation for the mother’s behavior. Hopefully, she and her family get the help they need.