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Woman Calls Sister A ‘Horrible Mother’ For Taking Sick Son To A Folk Healer Instead Of Hospital

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Tradition means different things to different people.

For some, tradition means white picket fences, others see homeopathic remedies or hand-sewn dresses.

What happens, though, when one person’s tradition puts another in danger?

This was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) aDayinTheLife010 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for clarity.

She asked:

“AITA I called my sister a horrible mother because she took my ill nephew to a folk healer instead of the hospital?”

She set the scene.

“Yesterday was my day off and I visited my older sister in our province.”

“When I arrived I saw my sister washing some leaves, I asked what it’s for and she told me it’s for my nephew (Tom 6 years old).”

She then got into the problem. 

“Tom first had a fever 3 days ago with rashes all over his body.”

“Sharee took my nephew to a folk healer on the second day of his fever instead of going to a doctor.”

“The healer had Tom drink tea from brewed leaves then sent him home. My nephew’s condition didn’t improve and yesterday when I visited them he was convulsing and very weak.”

OP took immediate steps.

“I told my sister to call a cab because we’re taking Tom to the ER.”

“We got to the hospital and to make the long story short, Tom has Dengue. His platelet count is very low he needed a transfusion.”

“I was angry at my sister for endangering my nephew, I called her a horrible mother.”

“She said she did what she thought was right and the folk doctor was known in the province to cure any illnesses.”

“She cried and said I need to stop blaming her and I am being an a**hole for making her feel worse.”

Having had a chance to calm herself, OP had to wonder: 

“AITA? I know blaming her won’t make things better but she needs to be told off because of being ignorant.”

Taking her issue to Reddit, OP asked for advice. 

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: NTA

Perhaps this is a teachable moment?

“NTA hopefully your sister will learn from this.”

“Your nephew could’ve died and it would’ve been her (and the folk healer’s) fault.”

“Being called a horrible mother is honestly small potatoes compared to that.”~Half_Man1

Others were less forgiving. 

“This is exactly the kind of situation where being harsh is warranted. OP, your sister is an unfit mother.”~SexyFoodandFilms

People shared personal stories, 

“It’s a mosquito-borne disease.”

“When I had dengue, as an adult, all they gave me was Tylenol for the fever.”

“It was the first time I’d had it, and the doctor told me ‘don’t worry, basically nobody dies the first time they get this’ but subsequent dengue infections can lead to hemorrhage and death.”

“Bear in mind, though, that my fever was 40C (104F) when I had that conversation, so I was a little delirious.”

“This was also 25 years ago, and maybe that was what doctors knew at the time, and have since learned new information.”

“But, with kids? I have no idea.”

“I do know that all I had the energy for (for 6 days), was to walk to the toilet, or grab pieces of watermelon out of the fridge, then collapse again on the bed.”

“Finally on day 5, someone brought be some clear broth, which I was able to keep down.”

“I had plenty of reserve fat, being a healthy adult, kids have less reserves!”

“It was the sickest I’ve ever been, and wasn’t back to 100% for at least 6 months.”

“OP is NTA, and I hope the kid gets better soon.”~emi_delaguerra

Some pointed out that this wasn’t about choice but responsibility. 


“I don’t believe in crystals and all that nonsense, but if an adult wants to carrying around a rock in a pouch and dab essential oils on their face instead of seeing an actual doctor, that is 100% their own choice and they can do whatever they want.”

“But when their child is clearly very sick and they go to some quack instead of to an actual doctor? That’s f*cking unforgivable.”

“In terms of pain, I’m that stubborn person who won’t even take ibuprofen unless it’s so painful that I don’t want to move (hooray, genetic joint and digestive issues).”

“It’s not because I believe in alternative sh*t, it’s because there’s a fine line between ‘ok this is bad enough for painkillers’ and ‘I don’t want to make my ulcers worse.‘ “~ertrinken

OP was encouraged to open a dialogue and push for change.

“NTA, BUT the fact that she went to the healer and not the hospital is not so foreign in many countries, as weird as it can be for us westerners.”

“My partner comes from a country where this is common, he suffered from it by not receiving proper medical care when he was young and this practice and trust is linked to deeper things.”

“Many people only bring their family to the hospital when it’s too late after much ‘healer’ treatment and then die there, making people think the hospital is the cause and not the delayed treatment for example.”

“You can’t just yell at her but you need to have an open conversation with her about what hospitals can provide (aka save her son in this case) and what makes the healer more valid for her.”

“Has she been ‘healed’ by it before?”

“Is there social pressure to go to this person?”

“Does she have personal beliefs that a condition could not be medical but spiritual?”

“I’m not excusing anything but there are reasons why people pick one over the other and to help her you may need to have this discussion.”

“Good luck and you did the right thing.” ~579red

OP did return with an update. 

“Edit: I would just like to thank you all for your comments and awards.”

“My nephew is doing a lot better now after the transfusion.”

“I apologized to my sister for being harsh but I sat her down and told her what she did wrong.”

“She said she learned from this mistake and will not do it again.”

“We live in Brazil.”

We all want the best for the people we love.

It can be difficult to discern what the “best” is when tradition and modern science differ.

Remember that we’re all learning and we’re all doing what we can.

Written by Frank Geier

Frank Geier (pronouns he/him) is a nerd and father of three who recently moved to Alabama. He is an avid roleplayer and storyteller occasionally masquerading as a rational human.