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Parent Called Out For Overruling Wife Who Tried To Force Their Preteen Son To Eat Blueberries

woman with blueberries
Highwaystarz-Photography/Getty Images

I’m not a picky eater, which is quite unusual for an autistic person. I’m sensitive to chilis or peppers that add heat to food, but as long as it’s not spicy, I’ll try it at least once.

And that was my only rule when I cooked for my family. My Mother hated cooking, so I took over that job fully by the time I was 9 years-old.

As long as my family tasted something before rejecting it, I didn’t mind. But my family was pretty open to trying anything and everyone else is unbothered by spicy things.

But not every parent/family cook agrees with a try it before rejecting it rule. Some enforce an “eat it or starve” mandate.

A parent who clashed with their partner over forcing their children to eat any food they’re given turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

DeleteMeLater4321 asked:

“AITA for not forcing my child to eat blueberries?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“Today my wife gave our 11 year old son some blueberries. My son said that he rather not eat them because he doesn’t really like blueberries.”

“My wife replied ‘but these are really good’ so my son hesitantly tried one blueberry and replied ‘Thanks, but I still don’t like them and rather not eat the rest’. I thought that was the end of it and went to the store to get groceries for dinner.”

“When I came back my son was crying at the table because he was forced to eat the remaining three blueberries. I asked my wife ‘why is he crying?’ and she explained that he had to eat the blueberries because it is healthy.”

“Thinking it was just about eating a piece of fruit I told my son that he didn’t have to eat the blueberries, but he did have to eat another piece of fruit instead like an apple or three strawberries or something similar.”

“My son immediately agreed, spat out the blueberries (in the garbage can) and started eating an apple. This was much to my wife’s dismay.”

“She said I overruled her authority and that my son will never learn to eat healthy. My reply was that it is not OK to force a child (or any other person) to eat something they don’t like (especially after they tasted it).”

“How would she feel if I forced her to eat something she doens’t like? Why is it OK for her to not eat certain foods but not for our son?”

“He likes enough vegetables and fruit in order to get a balanced diet, so I think we should meet him halfway and not focus on forcing him to eat stuff we know he doesn’t like. He is not really a fussy eater, so we have plenty of healthy stuff to choose from.”

“The situation escalated and at one point my son even said ‘I’ll just eat the blueberries’, in an attempt to de-escalate our argument—after which he took three blueberries from the fridge and swallowing them almost whole just to get it over with.”

“Sadly for him, it didn’t really work because we were already too far into the argument, although I did thank him afterwards for trying and apoligized for not being able to let it slide.”

“Am I the a**hole because I didn’t force my son to eat the blueberries and allowed him to take another piece of fruit he does like?”

The OP summed up their situation.

“I allowed my son to not eat blueberries against my wife’s will. I undermined my wife’s authority.”

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 the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“Congrats to your wife for working so hard to mess up your child’s relationship with food. And also starting an argument right in front of him so he would feel wretched and guilty over something that wasn’t his fault.”

“For f*ck’s sake, he even tried the blueberries. He’s allowed to not like things, as any human being is.”

“NTA. Keep an eye on how she treats him going forward, especially when it comes to food. This incident is likely to have him doing things he doesn’t want to do to reduce friction at home.”

“And the next time she starts up with you in front of him? Take it elsewhere. He doesn’t need to see or hear that sh*t.” ~ dryadduinath

“The father’s attitude is perfect. The kid eats a balanced diet of plenty of other fruit and vegetables.”

“He was willing to try it, and he was polite. It’s ridiculous to force him to eat foods he doesn’t like. NTA.” ~ GoNinjaPro

“NTA. It’s not like the son declared he hates all fruit and refuses to eat any. If that were the case, I could understand that he would be partly forced to eat some fruit for health reasons/a better diet.”

“But not only did he try the blueberries before saying he doesn’t like them, he also happily substitutes them by eating another fruit.”

“Nothing else is needed.”

“I can’t stand Brussel sprouts, never could. My parents asked me to try one one single time, I hated it, they never asked me to eat one again, but I happily ate basically any other vegetable and that was enough.”

“Dad did the right thing and mom is extremely wrong. For f*ck’s sake, her kid was crying—just have him eat that damn apple or a strawberry or whatever, what the hell is the matter with her.” ~ SamaireB

“It seems to me that people like the wife forget that even though their kid is a child, they’re still a person. Just because he’s only 11 doesn’t mean he’s stupid.”

“He’s allowed to have likes and dislikes, and as the top comment said, her attitude is gonna set him up for disordered eating soon. NTA, and OP, I think it might be a good idea to try some counseling with your wife, especially with someone with experience dealing with eating disorders.”

“Have it spelled out to her why her behavior was abhorrent and what it will do to your son.” ~ AllegraO

“It’s about power—making him eat what he doesn’t like is a control issue. It’s a ‘do as you’re told’ issue.”

“Nothing to do with blueberries. It’s about listening to mommy and doing what she feels is right for him. At the root of it—power.” ~ OrdinaryMango4008

“NTA. Being able to control your own eating and not eat when you are full or not hungry or you don’t like it an important skill. Your wife is teaching your son to ignore is own body.”

“That’s a bad idea. There is no rational reason why a different kind of fruit should not have been enough.”

“It’s one thing to teach healthy eating and portion control. But forcing him to each foods he hates could teach him that healthy eating means discomfort. And could have very unpleasant out comes.”

“Your wife needs to learn what healthy eating is. And that includes stopping when you are full or don’t want anymore.” ~ WickedJigglyPuff

“NTA. My dad insisted on making fish three times per week for years after I stopped being able to swallow it without gagging. Because fish is healthy! You used to like it!”

“Okay but my throat would close up and my diaphragm would involuntarily spasm when I put fish in my mouth and tried to chew.”

“How many times and how much is enough for your wife to listen to your son when he says he doesn’t like something, OP? What does that teach him about mindlessly respecting authority and ignoring his own mind and body? Nothing good.” ~ OutlandishMiss

“I used to vomit when forced to eat canned asparagus and canned peas. My mom would get up, put another serving on a plate and force me to eat again because ‘it was healthy’. I learned to just keep puking until the pan was empty! NTA.” ~ jfb01

“NTA. Seems like a good way to cement that your son won’t like blueberries. But the bigger issue is that your wife’s actions are really concerning, she seems very controlling.”

“My dad was like this, and it made me fear him. I hated being alone with him. It doesn’t seem like she understands she’s harming her relationship with her son. I think some family therapy is in order.” ~ BiochemKoshka

“NTA. I love fruit. My dad had to hide raspberries from my sisters and I. I’m not a fan of raw blueberries, it’s a texture thing. Never did either of my parents try to make me eat them.”

“Now as an adult I’ll still occasionally try a blueberry when someone tells me that they are particularly good. I still don’t care for them, but am willing to still try because my parents never forced me to eat them.” ~ TheRadHamster

“NTA. This isn’t about your wife teaching your son to eat healthy. That is just a justification. This is about your wife believing that her authority was questioned and she was making sure that your son knew who the boss was.”

“And she is angry at you because you also challenged her authority and she can’t force you to do anything the way she can do to your son. This is why she would not de-escalate the situation.” ~ bamf1701

The OP added some feedback after their judgment. 

“Maybe I’m not the a**hole in this situation, but in the future I will try not to argue with my wife in front of our son.”

Food preferences can be frustrating for parents, but a parent forcing a child to eat something strictly as an exertion of authority is problematic at best.

Hopefully the OP and his wife can come to an understanding on what’s appropriate for their son.

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.