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Dad Doesn’t Want His Teen Son Counting Calories To Gain Weight Due To His Daughter’s Anorexia

Jewel Mahmud / Unsplash

Parenting involves a lot of considerations. When your children experience eating disorders, how would you handle raising and educating them?

When ChestFew4955’s son wanted to put on weight, he started counting his calories to ensure he was meeting his goals. But the original poster (OP)’s husband thinks this might interfere with their daughter, who has her own eating issues.

OP isn’t sure what to do in this situation and decided to ask the “Am I the A**hole” subReddit if she made the right choice.

She questioned which side of the conversation she should be on.

“AITA for saying my daughters ED shouldn’t prevent my son from counting calories”

OP sided with her son, but is that neglecting her daughter?

“My (40f[emale]) son (16) is 6’1 and anywhere from 150-155 pounds (the scale we have at home is pretty old an inaccurate). So as you can see he is quite light and skinny and he chose (on his own) to try and gain weight.”

“Because of this he started using an old fit bit that he had to track calories he was losing and he started looking at calorie labels to make sure he was in a calorie surplus.”

“My daughter (14) was diagnosed with anorexia late last year and is still in recovery.”

“My husband (43) said that this was a bad idea and that if she found out it could make her ED worse. I said that even though he may be right, our son still deserved the chance to try and gain weight. He said that he should wait a little until our daughter has gotten a little better.”

“I said that just because she developed an ED doesn’t mean that he can’t do certain things. He said that we were both being insensitive and told me to really think about what I was saying.”

“I am starting to think he is right and maybe I should hold off and let my daughter get more settled into therapy and wait for her ED to get a little ‘better’ before I let my son start doing something like this, AITA?”

OP didn’t think her daughter’s disorder meant that her son should have to avoid his own eating regimen. But would that hurt her daughter more?

As OP asked, the board judged her by including one of the following in their response:

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

Eating disorders are tricky, and people will react differently. While you can’t expect everyone to walk around on eggshells for the rest of their lives, there is a nuance to the way you treat those around you.

Even on a board where the point is to judge, the commenters didn’t think they had enough information. OP needed to talk with her daughter’s therapist and see where she was at.

In the end, there wasn’t enough information.

“Get the therapists opinion. It could be extremely triggering and further damaging, your son not gaining weight will not kill him. Your daughters anorexia can kill her.” – yellowsteakrocks

“This. I’d love to put a label (NTA/YTA/whatever) on this situation OP but the only one who really knows where your daughter is at is your daughter. Consulting with a therapist or a doctor is probably the best case senecio for this situation” – nothingeatsyou

“Bring a doctor in for both of them. Does his doctor feel like he needs to gain weight? He is technically within a healthy weight even if 150.”

“Skinny yes but not underweight. If doctor thinks he needs to gain weight then having professionals involved is probanly a good idea with what’s going on with daughter” – future_nurse19

“INFO: Has your son spoken to a doctor about his plan and gotten ‘sign off’ from a professional that it’s safe? How obvious is he with the calorie counting (i.e. will it even be noticeable to your daughter)?” – 0biterdicta

“Seconding this. Also adding on that any sort of calorie counting behavior can be indicative of disordered eating, which your son is at greater risk of (due to genetic factors, siblings of a person with an ED are high risk).” – cryingsnails

On top of all of this, people shared their own or observed experiences with teenage boys and their eating.

It’s possible OP’s son doesn’t need to worry that much.

“NTA. But he doesn’t need a fitbit or or technology to gain weight. Just give him a list of the most calorie dense foods he can eat (within the healthy range) and let him go for it.”

“He doesn’t have to talk about weight, calories, or tracking anything in front of her. He just needs to really eat a lot of calories.”

“Most people just eat food and don’t talk about it (other than to say mmm this is good to the person who cooked it).”  – Unit-Healthy


“People are underestimating how hard some young boys and teenage boys have it.”

“This is a tough situation. Your right, your son shouldn’t have to change his lifestyle because of his sister. At the same time, yes, this could be an obvious trigger for your daughter.”

“I think your right not to just push away your son’s concern’s. I have a cousin that is a picky eater and his father is absolutely getting concerned about him being under weight.”

“There is this stereotype that teenage boys are black holes that consume all food around them. And that’s just not true of everyone.”

“If your son is a teenager and already 6 ft tall, and is having trouble keeping weight on, that absolutely is something you should keep your eye on.”

“And it is good that he is trying to count calories and eat healthy options. Not just stuff his face full of McDonald’s and hope to put in weight through empty calories.”

“Your in a tough situation, and I don’t think anyone is the a**hole.” – iamnoking

“Just FYI, Fitbits and the like are not at all accurate when it comes to determining how many calories are burned. He needs to find his total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and work off of that to find the calories he would need to put him in a healthy and safe surplus.”

“I recommend speaking with a dietician (not his regular doctor because they are woefully under educated when it comes to nutrition).”

“But unless he is blatantly rubbing it in your daughter’s face or being overtly vocal about counting calories, you are NTA for thinking it’s okay.” – imafullasshuman

OP doesn’t have enough information to make this choice on her own, but neither does her husband.

They need to see their doctor about this situation and try to figure things out from there.

Written by Ben Acosta

Ben Acosta is an Arizona-based fiction author and freelance writer. In his free time, he critiques media and acts in local stage productions.