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Mom Forces Older Son To Eat Dinner In His Bedroom Due To Younger Brother’s Phobia Of Hiccups

Boy sitting on his bed and eating alone.
Carol Yepes/Getty Images

Everyone has a fear or phobia of some sort.

Some people have slightly more serious ones, such as worrying for the safety of their children and families, while others might seem a bit more minor to others, such as fish, birds, or clowns.

While it might be easy enough to laugh at someone with a phobia that might seem silly to us, it is always best to reserve judgment, as we don’t know where this particular phobia might stem from or what exactly these people go through when faced with it.

Redditor throwmylifeaway2911‘s younger son had a very unusual and very problematic phobia.

As he was afraid of something just about everyone on earth does.

This included the original poster (OP)’s older son, who was rather chronically dealing with the very thing that terrified her younger son.

As this made it difficult to the point of impossible for the OP’s younger son to enjoy a peaceful dinner together, the OP came up with what she thought was a fair solution to this problem.

Until her sister accused her of being a bad mother for doing so.

Having doubts about her decision, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for sending my son upstairs to eat because of his brother’s phobia?”

The OP explained how her solution to ensuring her younger son could enjoy a peaceful dinner did not sit well with her sister.

“This is a bit of an odd situation, so I figured I’d come to Reddit for some fresh perspectives.”

“So, for the past, I’d say three months, my older son Rex (15) always, and I mean always, gets hiccups midway through dinner.”

“I’m not sure what kind of glitch is going on, I’ve had him checked out, and apparently nothing is wrong except maybe eating too fast (he has tried slowing down but no luck).”

“Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be much of a problem, except my younger son Marshall (13) has a phobia of hiccups (yes, it’s a real thing).”

“He’s been totally freaked out and usually had his hands clamped over his ears every time we sat down to dinner.”

“I felt really bad. His anxiety’s terrible, and it was beyond just him being annoyed.”

“I’ve tried a lot of things, from hiccup remedies for Rex and some therapy for Marshall, but it just doesn’t seem to be working.”

“Last week I decided Rex should just eat upstairs.”

“I think he’s old enough to not care as much about sitting at the table, plus the hiccups are embarrassing to him, so I figured he’d enjoy the privacy.”

“Well my sister is a big-time busybody. She’s always asking my kids all kinds of invasive questions.”

“I was on the phone with her the other day, and guess who’s telling me I’m a bad mother for daring to consider my child with a phobia.”

“I defended my position by acknowledging that yes, Rex might be feeling a slight amount of extra embarrassment because he has to eat upstairs, but honestly, that’s nothing compared to the terror his brother was experiencing when he was downstairs.”

“I don’t think my sister understands the gravity of a phobia. She just thinks Marshall ‘doesn’t like hiccups’ and that’s it, but then again, she’s always been dismissive of mental issues.”

“That said, I guess her words did have an effect on me because I’m still thinking about it now.”

“AITA here for how I’m handling things?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

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

The OP found little to no support from the Reddit community, who largely agreed that the OP was indeed the a**hole for making Rex eat his dinner alone in his room.

While everyone agreed that the OP was indeed thinking of Marshall’s best interests, they also felt that she didn’t come up with an equitable solution, feeling that she was showing favoritism to Marshall and was feeding into his phobia rather than helping it.

“I’d have probably suggested alternating who eats upstairs or (not sure if there’s more than you three) why don’t 2 of you eat together in one room and the others at the normal table.”

“Definitely need help for the kid with the phobia.”

“You may not yet know the cause of the hiccups in the other kid, but phobias can definitely be treated.”

“I’m not sure feeding into his phobia is the long-term solution – but I get you are just trying to balance the situation.”- Arstanoth

“I am sorry, but YTA.”

“This is not a solution to send your other son to eat alone in his room while you all have family time.”

“Frankly, I am appalled.”

“The obvious solution is to have one of your sons eat with you while the other eats with the other parent and alternate each other day until the hiccup stops.”

“Eating slowly, chewing for a longer time, drinking water during meals.”

“It can help. Hiding your son in his room doesn’t do anything else than making your son feel like a second-class citizen.”- Ryuloulou

“Why aren’t you banishing Marshall too?”

“You’re telling one son he doesn’t matter because of the irrational fear of the other.”

“Why not stagger it so they rotate who eats with the family?”

“Instead, you completely locked one kid out for your golden child.”

“YTA.”- YourGirlRio


“I’m sorry that Marshall has a phobia, but that doesn’t mean that gets to dictate where his brother can eat.”

“All that tells Rex is that you care more about his younger brother’s feelings than his.”-Old_Inevitable8553

“YTA You are punishing your son for something he can’t control.”

“Perhaps stagger meal times.”

“So you sit with one child while he eats, then with the other while he eats.”

“If it is a two-parent household, then have one parent eat with each until it can be addressed.”-ghjkl098

“The suggestion to stagger eating meals so that they both have time with you makes the most sense until the issue is solved.”

“If you have not taken your oldest to a GI doctor and only to his family Dr., I recommend seeking a referral.”

“I have a type of esophagitis that cause spasms, and prior to diagnosis hiccuping was something I experienced regularly.”

“After an endoscopy and proper medicine, my esophagitis is managed, and I rarely experience hiccups.”

“Prior to being diagnosed, I thought it was just a weird thing that happened to me, then the specialist told me it was a symptom.”

“Good Luck!”- Odd-Ad-9472


“Poor Rex.”

“He being locked away for something he can’t control.”

“I agree with your sister.”

“You have taught Rex that he isn’t important as his brother.”- Dixie-Says

“YTA, how dare your sister take an interest in your kids and their lives when you obviously don’t.”

“Why can’t the 13 yr old put on headphones or HIM leave the room?”

“You need to do better about hiding the fact the 13 yr old is the favorite.”

“Jesus, banning your oldest from the room for something he can’t control because it upsets the other one that can’t control being upset.”

“You suck.”

“Give the 13 yr old headphones and STOP pushing the oldest away.”- PatchEnd

“Well done on coming to Reddit and being open to considering other people’s views on this matter.”

“However, if you’re going to actually consider other people’s views, you have to actually try and think about them and be open to the possibility that those other people might be right.”

“I was on the phone with her the other day, and guess who’s telling me I’m a bad mother for daring to consider my child with a phobia.”

“‘Daring to consider…?!'”

“No. Just no.”

“I can absolutely f*cking guarantee your sister was not calling you a bad mother for ‘daring to consider’ your other son.”


“YT massive a**hole for that comment alone.”

“If you were ‘considering’ both of your sons as any good mother would, then there is absolutely zero chance that the ideal solution to this problem would be for one of the two sons to be banished from dinner.”

“This is an awful solution, essentially punishing one of your sons for something out of his control.”

“It is one of the nastiest and most inconsiderate solutions possible to envisage.”

“I don’t know whether your sister called you a bad mother or not because you’re clearly an unreliable narrator at relaying what she said.”

“But if she did, she was right.”- Vernacian

One can appreciate how the OP wants Marshall to be able to eat his dinner in peace.

That being said, making Rex eat alone in his room every night must not make him feel particularly good.

Especially owing to something he has no control over.

One can only hope that the OP can find a solution to both cure Rex’s hiccups and ease Marshall’s phobia in a timely manner and that the whole family can enjoy a conflict-free meal sooner rather than later.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.