We’ve all been bullied by someone, whether it was frequently or a one-time incident. No matter how frequently, or for what reason, we received negative attention, it was still hurtful.
Receiving an apology or discovering that the person had since worked on themselves after being a bully could make all the difference, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor throwawaymomlunch was surprised when a fellow mom reached out to her and told her how her daughter had begun to feel self-conscious at lunchtime.
But when she realized the mom was accusing her son of bullying her daughter, the Original Poster (OP) refused to talk to her son about his behavior.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for refusing to punish my son for calling his classmate’s food weird?”
The OP recently received a tough message from a fellow mom.
“I (32 Female) got a private text this morning from the mother of my son’s (7 Male) classmate.”
“She told me that apparently, my son has been calling her daughter’s traditional lunch weird and things as such and apparently that is making her daughter feel uncomfortable and insecure.”
“She asked me to please talk to my son about being more sensitive and respectful, so her daughter doesn’t feel excluded.”
The OP had mixed feelings about the message.
“Now, I feel for this woman as a fellow mother. No one wants to see their child feeling sad, but overcoming insecurities is a big part of growing up.”
“Additionally, I thought it was ridiculous of her to criticize my son, a seven-year-old, for making relatively innocuous and curious comments about food that is not familiar to him.”
“He’s at a curious age and is discovering the world, and I refuse to try and limit him and shut him down for not having the emotional sensitivity of an adult.”
The fellow mom was frustrated by the OP’s reaction.
“Politely, I told that mother that I was sorry her daughter was struggling with insecurities, and I found some online parenting articles about building your child’s confidence to send to her so she could use some tips to help her daughter out.”
“She replied and said I was acting completely shamelessly and disgracefully, and I am not able to text her anymore.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some were concerned about the racist undertones of the OP’s son’s bully tactics.
“YTA. Your kid is bullying another student in a racist manner. Are you trying to raise a racist?” – idontcare8587
“There’s a little something racist (or at least xenophobic) in there too. Her ‘traditional’ foods are weird? Hmm.” – Beebeemp
“I hope the poor girl’s mom had a talk with their classroom teacher as well. I’m also a K teacher, and if I found out about this, we would have a whole class talk about how everyone eats different foods because they come from different cultures.”
“OP is missing out on a great opportunity to help their son explore new cultures and cuisine.”
“If it were me, I would take my son to an Indian/Korean/Mexican/whatever type of restaurant and show him that the food is delicious and enjoyed by many people. And we would also have a talk about kindness and showing respect to others. It doesn’t have to be a “punishment” to teach a child about empathy and kindness.” – cuentaderana
“The OP is like, ‘This is America. How ’bout you pack your kid a good ol’ American ham sandwich instead of that weird yakisoba stuff, okay? Here are some articles on how to accommodate my child, so he doesn’t have to be bothered by learning your culture exists…'” – FunstarPrime
“To a lot of people, ‘weird’ means ‘different in a bad way.’ He’s not open to this new thing. He’s criticizing it.”
“Kids who are different are often bullied for being ‘weird.’ It isn’t a positive for most people. It isn’t neutral. He’s not open to it.” – 3MPR355
“YTA, OP. When my child was in elementary school, her teacher organized a special day where each child brought 27 servings/samples (enough for each student as well as the teacher) of food from their culture.”
“Throughout the day, each student was asked to talk about their heritage, where their food was from, a special memory involving the food (ie. my grandma always makes rice pudding when…), and then everyone would try the food.”
“It was a hit with the kids, and each of them was sent home with the recipe for each of the foods. Such a great and fun way to teach and experience diversity and inclusion.” – HarbourJK
Others agreed and pointed out how much victim-blaming was happening here.
“Isn’t it interesting that ‘overcoming insecurities is a big part of growing up,’ but when it’s her kid, it’s ‘ridiculous to criticize.’ And, of course, the female child should have the emotional maturity to put up with being harassed by the male; ‘boys will be boys’ after all.”
“Being respectful is also part of growing up, looks like OP skipped those lessons in her own schooling. Maybe she should join her son in primary school to revisit basic courtesy.” – Lilitu9Tails
“Boys will be boys (well into their 30s). Seven-year-old girls, on the other hand, need to learn to manage their emotions and manage the insecurities of boys (and men).” – Trini1113
“I am starting to believe that the reason girls mature earlier is the expectation that they will behave in a ladylike manner from the moment they can walk and talk, while boys are allowed to be as childish as they want for as long as they want.”
“What we call maturity is not the real thing in most cases, that comes much later on. We just are told to act our age, no matter what age, not a concern for most men outside a professional environment. When women are having fun, they are acting crazy or have loose morals. If men are having fun, they are just ‘fun guys.'”
“Over the next several years, this little boy will be allowed to be insensitive and childish whenever he wishes, all while having his mother support this behavior. Meanwhile, little girls everywhere will be told they need to grow up and not be oversensitive whenever their feelings are legitimately hurt.” – almostradamus
“This was me as a child too which makes these comments all the more anger-inducing, the boys in primary school made me feel like absolute sh*t, day in and day out, whether it was physically attacking me or just sitting next to me in class telling me I was ugly/stupid, etc.”
“When I complained to any adult, it was, ‘You’re such a sensible well-behaved girl, you have to just ignore them because you are more mature than them, they can’t be like you so they act like this.’ They never had to stop. It was just accepted that boys do this and girls must weather the storm.” – cifala
“It is always the girls’ fault. Whatever happens to the girl in the future is always her fault.”
“Boys will be boys. They can never take responsibility for their actions. It is always the girl who asks for it.”
“Rage against this OP for how she is raising her son. RAGE.” – Ms-Wunderlich
Some accused the OP of just not properly parenting her child.
“I’m also astounded that OP’s calling this ‘curiosity,’ because it’s literally her child being closed-minded (which makes sense for a seven-year-old). Curiosity would be asking about the food or asking to try it, not labeling it as ‘weird,’ and making a classmate uncomfortable about their own food.” – Arstinos
“OP wouldn’t be ‘punishing’ her kid. She would be teaching him that some behaviors and actions are unacceptable. That ’emotional sensitivity’ doesn’t just come out of nowhere.”
“A seven-year-old girl doesn’t tell her mom about something that happened hours ago unless it made an impression. Her boy’s ‘innocent curiosity’ is more likely rudeness at best and bullying at worst.”
“She followed it up with actions that are also rude at best and bullying at worst. With just a dash of misogyny to keep things interesting.”
“My parents believe in what I call the ‘Here, try this’ method. It goes: ‘Here, try this’ ‘What is it?’ ‘I’ll tell you after.’ They always served off their own plates, and never offered something they knew I would hate.”
“I trusted them, so always tried at least two bites. They threw every kind of food they could at me and have for as long as I can remember.”
“Now, as an adult, I’m willing to try almost anything and have an eclectic bunch of favorites. I go out to eat raw squid with fish eggs and grilled eel on my birthday. I am eating tripe, raw beef, and beef tendon while I write this. Stuff nearly anything in a roasted, then deep fried jalapeño, and I’m all over it. I occasionally eat pickled herring because I like it! With sour cream!”
“So my food mantra is ‘Don’t yuck my yum!'” – Shibaspots
“This is worrisome, actually, that she understood punish immediately.”
“It seems that to OP, the only way to correct an undesirable behavior is to punish.”
“Talking, guiding, teaching isn’t even in consideration for her son.” – Marawhal
“When I was five, I said a rude thing (which I had heard from someone, obviously) about one of my best friends’ religion (he was Roman Catholic, and I was some form of protestant). I said this rude thing because I was mad at him, and never mind ‘said.’ I shouted it, loudly, in front of his house, under the kitchen window.”
“Needless to say, his mom talked to my mom… And what did my mom do? Sent me to Catholic church with some other neighbor the next Sunday, so I could see what ‘their’ service was all about. I came home, all excited about THEY HAVE HOLY WATER!!! and THEY GET LITTLE COOKIES!!! and IT SMELLS SO GOOD WHEN THEY WAVE THE SMOKE.”
“POOF went that prejudice… and turned into envy… that we weren’t Catholic. (I’m agnostic now, but I still remember that day and that lesson.)” – marvel_nut
“This is literally the moment where kids learn their emotional sensitivity and intelligence…or don’t, in this case. Such a great opportunity for teaching and growth. Learn about the food, try takeout from new places, read some books, and learn why it’s important to be kind and respectful of differences. Ugh.” – RobinhoodCove830
Not only was the subReddit concerned about what the little girl at school was going through because of the OP’s son, but they were also overwhelmingly disappointed by the way the OP skipped out on the opportunity to teach her son about emotional intelligence and sensitivity, as well as about someone else’s culture.