Would you stop making healthy meals for your kid so they could buy lunch at school, and potentially feel more accepted by their peers?
One dad on Reddit refused to budge, and now he’s taken to the internet forum for advice on whether he ended up making the right call.
In the subreddit AmItheAsshole (AITA), the father, who goes by the username eatthebananas, explained that despite making “healthy, nutritious” lunches for his 12-year-old daughter, since the end of last year and up until now, she’s “basically throwing a fit once a week about how she’s tired of having her own lunch and she wants to buy lunch.”
The dad said he considered signing her up for an existing school lunch program that was diverse and healthy, but nutrition wasn’t what she had in mind.
“She wants to have some extra money so she can buy junk and she claims that there is a huge culture of trading food and no one wants hers and she feels left out when everyone else has pizza,” the dad wrote. “The school has little separate kiosks for junk food that are open at various points in the week, and I know if I gave her money for the whole week, she’d just eat that stuff or get candy from the school shop.” He also added, “It’s also worth noting that my daughter does not LIKE fast food for the most part, and so this is very socially motivated for her and not food motivated for her. Since she is younger than her peers, we are careful to not indulge in peer pressure requests too freely as she is VERY susceptible to it and this is the primary issue, not what specifically she is eating (though yes, I do not want her eating fast food for lunch every day and don’t think she’s old enough to have total reign there).”
His compromise: To give her extra money, which she can use to buy junk food once or twice a week, if she does more around the house, but “if she does that we probably won’t go out as a family for fast food on the weekends (not that we do much now already).” That money is in addition to the funds she already gets for grade improvements, anytime she learns a new skill, and her “snack allowance” for accompanying either of her parents to the grocery store and being useful.
The dad, however, felt uncertain about his decision, and admitted even his wife disagrees with him and is worried he would give their daughter an “eating disorder.” He wrote, “I feel like if the only eating disorder I give my kid is one where she knows how to make healthy, nutritious meals, then I’m fine with that. Even if she pushes back and eats unhealthily in college or something, at least she’ll have good habits and the know how to get it back if she needs.” Concluding the post, he asked the internet community if he was, indeed, the asshole in this situation.
There were over 500 responses to the thread. Here’s what some of the commenters said:
User SarahlovesChar felt the OP was right to do what he did: “She’s incredibly lucky and privileged to have parents who not only make her a lunch every day but also make sure it’s healthy. I remember I used to be a little ungrateful shit teenager who was annoyed my mom would pack me a smelly tuna fish sandwich with carrots sticks and an apple while the other kids got to order pizza and chicken fingers. But I look back now and think how amazing it was my mom managed to do anything about lunch with four kids in the house, a full time job, etc. This is just another life lesson for your kid to learn that we don’t get every single thing we want when we want it.”
Meanwhile, user km89 felt that overall, the dad was wrong. “Eating isn’t just about nutrition—it’s a social thing too. Your keeping her lunches healthy is admirable, and you are not the asshole for that. But she’s 12. She’s starting to form independent social relationships—meaning she’s starting to rely less on her parents to handle the logistics of play dates and such. She’s complained directly to you, but about her being left out of social interactions, not of being bullied. She needs a little bit of autonomy. That doesn’t mean buying lunch every day—but maybe once a week, or twice a week. And yes, she could use her own money to do so—but she’s a child, for crying out loud—it’s admirable that you’re trying to instill an attitude of having to work for what you want, but lunch? It sounds like you’re trying your best to raise your kid right and doing a good job of it—but you’re coming down a little too strict in this case.”
Redditor PassGoMF said both parties are wrong: that the dad is being controlling, and that the daughter is “kind of selfish” to ask her dad to stop making her lunches completely. “But overall I think her views are fair that she should be able to trade snacks. Even though it’s not the best decision to eat junk food what she spends the money she earns should be her choice.”
As for the Reddit verdict? It looks like the internet community saw the merits of both arguments, labeling the post No A-holes here. Perhaps user VanhaVihtahousu summed it up best, writing, “You as a parent are responsible of your child eating healthy, and she is not old enough to decide that for herself in my opinion. I assume your wife is her mother and as such she has a say in this too. I think you did the right thing when you offered to sign her up for the healthy program. The child is also not an asshole, because she’s just a child. Of course she wants to eat junk.”