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Parent Accused Of ‘Abusing’ Teen Son By Refusing To Let Him Eat ‘3 or 4 Servings’ Of Every Meal

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Keeping a growing teenager properly fed can be a real challenge for any parent.

But for one parent on Reddit, the situation was on another level–their teen son eats several helpings of every meal and snack several times a day.

But when their son and family got angry when they responded by restricting their son’s portions, they weren’t sure they were handling things properly.

So they went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by the username Main-Bat-2458 on the site, asked:

“AITA for limiting how much my son eats?”

They explained:

“Let me start off by saying this is not a weight or health issue. We have been to the doctor over it, the doctor said nothing is medically wrong.”

“My son(16m[ale]) loves to eat. He is a healthy weight and an active kid, he just really likes food.”

“At first it was typical ‘eat you out of a house and home’ teen boy eating but it started to escalate when school let out.”

“He will have 3 or 4 servings every meal and is continually snacking. He will go thru a week’s worth of snacks in one day.”

“I guess I should explain that I cook 3 meals a day. Breakfast is usually a main, sausage or bacon, toast or biscuits, and cereal is always an option.”

“Lunch is a lighter meal with a main, a veggie side or a salad, and occasionally a pasta side. Dinner is always a main, 3 sides and a dessert.”

“For lunch and dinner, if anyone doesn’t want what is prepared there are sandwiches, ramen, or frozen meals, whoever wants any of them just has to make them themselves.”

“On to the problem. I started limiting meals and snacks.”

“You can only have 2 servings of what I make and with snacks, I have all my kids fill a basket with 5 things of their choice and that’s all they can have for the day.”

“The rest of my kids(11, 13, 15) have no problem with this. My son on the other hand threw a fit.”

“He screamed about it and when I wouldn’t just let him keep eating, he took off to his grandparents house and told them I am starving him.”

“He is refusing to come home until I get rid of the rules. My parents are beyond mad. They called me yelling that I’m abusing my son and I need to let him eat.”

“When I explained why I put the rules in place and that my son isn’t being starved, they yelled that they never did that with me or my siblings and said they wouldn’t let my son come home until I got my act together.”

“I’m starting to doubt myself here”

People on Reddit were then asked to judge who is in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:

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

Responses varied widely, but most were in agreement that OP was out of line in restricting their child’s food.

“YTA. You say he is a healthy weight. Maybe he actually needs to eat a lot more for growth/development.” –HalfBear-HalfCat

“I think this is best suited for a professional maybe a Nutritionist and it’s possible his hormones are raging due to a growth spurt.” –Stacity

“I second this. Also OP, you say you’ve discussed this with his doctor, but were any blood tests done?”

“It might be a good idea to have his TSH levels checked just so hyperthyroidism can be ruled out. Any other metabolic disorders as well.” –Abitneurotic

“Could be just growing! Between age 14 and 15 I grew twelve inches in height in the span of a single calendar year. If I didn’t eat for two straight hours I would get dizzy and feel sick.” –Bats_n_Tats

“NTA This is really good advice but to speak specifically to OP’s question I would say NTA.”

“As someone who struggled his whole life with weight issues helping a kid to learn proper eating habits as early as possible is very important.”

“It is one of the things I wish my parents did more for me as a kid. And not even just eating habits, just helping to reinforce good healthy habits all around is one of the most important parts of being a parent.” –insanelyphat

“OP also doesn’t list too many healthy snacks, or maybe food with some fibers. Something filling. They listed lots of starch or frozen food.”

“Why not offering a stack of carottes or other cheap veggies? Why not switching to some sugar free cereals, with lots of oats, that are rich in fibre and protein. Why not letting a youth with a growth spurt eat yheir fill?” –yhaensch

“If someone is a healthy weight and also a literal bottomless pit- they need to see a doctor. That’s not normal. Weight is not the only indicator of health.”

“I’ve been thin and horribly unhealthy, people need to stop equating the two.”

“He is a growing boy and needs food but the amount she’s describing (if she’s being accurate) is obscene. It’s concerning.”

“Edit- hey, maybe he’s just an extremely hungry teen boy. But she’s not the a**hole for trying to prevent a binge eating disorder.”

“She would be the a**hole if she doesn’t take him to a nutritionist/doctor.” –Substantial_Sink5975

“YTA First of all, everyone has a different idea of what a ‘main’ is, so just saying you serve ‘a main and sides’ means nothing.”

“He obviously has a high metabolism, and might have something medically going on that is making him so hungry.”

“If he is eating that much and not gaining weight, it’s a sign there is something happening.”

“If there is something medically wrong, all you are doing is ignoring the problem and torturing your son.”

“If it’s just a high metabolism, you’re depriving him of the nutrients and calories his body NEEDS right now, and torturing him.”

“Don’t expect him to stay ‘a healthy weight and an active kid’ when he’s suddenly trying to survive off a fraction of what he normally eats.” –QuackLikeMe

“Nobody needs 4-5 servings of dinner. Ever. This is coming from a glutton.”

“NTA kid needs to see a nutritionist” –D1rtyL4rry

“Completely agree. YTA. If this isn’t about weight, this sounds like a 16 year old boy who NEEDS food. I don’t see the point in limiting his food if he’s thin and healthy.”

“My two teenage boys both play two sports each, and I couldn’t IMAGINE limiting their food in anyway. They obviously need as much as they can eat.” –ConflictOk8020

“Agreed. Also, what does this OP consider a ‘serving’?? People are SO weird about food. Let the kid eat, especially if it’s balanced!” –Impossible_Scratch12

“Honestly i doubt he’s eating that much because he needs the food, i used to always eat a ton as a kid because i wanted to do the action of eating, not because i was hungry or lacking energy.”

“I think it’s more likely he has some issues to deal with that he’s using food as a coping mechanism for” –Bahlok_Avaritia

“YTA. If he’s a healthy weight he’s probably growing and needs the extra food. He might be about to shoot right up” –No-Raspberry-9684

“Why in the world do you have limits on what the kids can eat? Teenagers eat a ton and as a mom, it would never occur to me to limit their servings as long as it’s not candy, soda, or other junk.” –t_dlane2018

“You know, we had to do the same thing when it comes to soft drinks for our boys…”

“they were going through an insane amount and after an extremely expensive dental visit, we had to limit the soft drinks and we incorporated more water into their daily intakes…”

“So I understand why you’re doing it, but dang your food bill must be insane no lie.”

“I’m probably going to be downvoted for this but I think that you’re NTA”

“Edit to add: go you on the fruit and veggie option 😊” –Educational-Friend47

“the comments seem to suggest that more food is always an option, it’s just other stuff like fruit, veg, sandwiches, noodles, that he has to prep himself if he wants more than is cooked for dinner or is out of snacky snacks.”

“That’s fine. He can eat as much as he wants, it just has to be other foods than the cooked dinner.”

“NTA” –Left-Car6520

“NTA. You’re not being fat phobic and you’re not denying him any food. If he wanted to make himself a sandwich or a snack if he’s that hungry he easily could.”

“You’re just limiting snack food and saying he can’t have THIRDS of a meal, neither of those are unreasonable.”

“And beyond that he’s 16, if he was literally starving as he so claims he could make himself something to eat, but he didn’t do that, he threw a temper tantrum and then ran to his grandparents house for them to feed him.”

“So apparently he’s starving but too lazy to make his own food”

“But I would suggest seeing some kind of nutritionist or getting a second opinion because being this hungry especially if not over weight doesn’t seem normal.”

“We all get days where we’re snacky or hungrier than normal but rarely to this level, so maybe there’s some underlying issue. How long has this been a problem?” –AlternativePea4434

Hopefully OP can learn from this.

Written by Peter Karleby

Peter Karleby is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.