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Dad feeds 2 yo son 'harmful' foods amidst messy custody battle. AITA? UPDATED 3X

Dad feeds 2 yo son 'harmful' foods amidst messy custody battle. AITA? UPDATED 3X


When this dad is upset with his ex for how intense she is about feeding their son, he asks Reddit:

"Am I wrong for feeding my son foods I eat?"

I (29m) have a 2.5 year old son that I have for one night on the weekends (so far, trying to get him for a couple nights in a row) and I have been allowing him to eat what I eat and try new foods.

His mother (24f) has been, since his birth, very strict with him being a vegan. That means nothing that may have animal products, so no meat, dairy or anything made with dairy, anything that may have anything in the ingredients that sounds like alcohol was used (vanilla extract) or anything that is not marked organic on the packaging.

While we lived together (separated Oct 5th, I moved out November 8th) I was not allowed to eat anything I liked that was non vegan near our son.

We live in New Hampshire. Never married. I just want fair parenting of my son and not to have to do everything to his mom's rules and demands like before.

Which ment I usually had to wait until he went to bed at 8-9 to be able to eat anything non vegan. I personally was not a fan of eating very similar meals for lunches and dinners.

A compromise was allowing vegan chicken nuggets and sandwiches patties to be eaten with him so he could feel included in eating foods similar to me on occasion when I wanted neat. After a while she stopped that necause of fear he may want to actually eat meat.

After she broke up with me, I have been allowing my son to try anything reasonable that he sees me eating. Naturally he tells him mom about the new foods he tries and she gets upset about how I'm not following her rules.

Am I wrong for feeding my son similar foods I eat? Should I be adhering to her strict rules in my home?

Then, OP provides his first update, which has details about his son's doctor's visit:

At his one year visit, the doctor said he should try meat in his diet, his mom got pissed off at the doctor, and me because I sided with the professional.

He wants to try everything that others have around him. I hated saying no to him when we went places before th breakup. Now I give him the same food I eat, we eat together every meal now, something I didn't get to enjoy previously.

I AM careful! I keep track of what he throws up and for now I won't let him have it until he's eaten more diverse foods. My ex says this is abusive? Give me a break.(milk chocolate and ice cream cake are it so far for foods he immediately throws up).

Whatever he tries new, I only give him about half a bite and let him know he doesn't have to eat it all if he doesn't like far he liked everything but some beans at one point.

Then, OP provides his second update, which has more information about his custody battle:

I am in the process of going to court for shared custody. She is still a sahm. I have a job. Because I have a job, she won't let me take him on nights that I would work the next morning. I do have a big support system that can watch him on my days if I do work. I can also put him in daycare.

From day one I had told her I did not think being vegan for him was the best idea. I wanted him to eat foods I liked as well and feel included when I ate them instead of having to exclude him from things his dad enjoyed.

I eventually caved to vegan options of what i liked just to enjoy having the same meals with him

If he chooses to be vegan on his own terms, then I will 100% accept that when the time comes. Sorry if I can't answer everything. I'll try to update more if I forgot anything.

Then, OP provides another update about his history with his ex:

I got a lawyer in November to take my ex to court so I could have my son for the weekend. She made things very difficult in the beginning. Originally I was not allowed to take him overnights at all.

And she had demanded that I take him every single day when I was free. Which for an hour travel time, was wiping me out faster. Especially the weekends, I was driving 8 hours a weekend just to have him at my house Originally.

Paternity hearing is this Friday to confirm he's mine before mediation. Her dad has lots of money, so he's paying her bills now.

Originally after the breakup she wanted me to keep living with them paying for everything because "I was the dad and that it's my job to provide" I stayed one month longer before I was able to leave.

I couldn't mentally handle her going on dates and sleeping with others while I stayed home taking care of things after work.

His doctor told her he needs to eat meat. She got pissed at the doctor for it, then at me because I took the doctor side. I'm in th eorks for court, she keeps asking me to drop it and that I'm wasting my time and money because the court will side with her because she's a sahm.

I obviously have a job so I work. And because of that she only let's me take him one night a week and only when I'm not working, so I take him after work on Tuesday and Thursdays for 1.5 hours and Saturday from 2pm to 7:30 pm Sunday.

I live an hour away, it is so much driving picking him up and dropping him off. I just want him from Friday night to Monday morning or Monday night.

Let's take a look at some of the top responses:

hairyhoodclam writes:

NW I am a vegan and my kids are exposed to everything. Do I cook meat for them? No. But my husband does and we order normal kid foods for them at restaurants. They do also eat vegan food but nothing over the top: vegan burgers, beans and rice, fries, fresh fruit, normal stuff.

Veganism, like religion, should be a choice. Your kids should know all their options before making their choice.

blueavole writes:

Along with the people who said that vegan diets can be harmful for babies and toddlers- Isn’t it good to develop a micorbiome that can handle a wide range of foods?

There have been studies with peanuts that an absolute restriction against them in young babies actually increases the likelihood of serious allergic reactions later on.

Shouldn’t your kid be introduced to these foods so their system can handle it? Plenty of people have sensitivity to nuts or soy. What if they can’t get protein from those sources?

equalbrilliant writes:

Veganism is hard enough at the best of times for adults. And extremely difficult for children. Make sure you talk with his doctor and let him know that mom is trying to be vegan with so they can talk with her to make sure she’s doing it right and isn’t just a “salad” vegan.

Good news/bad news is you feeding him meat will offset any deficiencies in his diet which will make it harder to prove if she’s doing it wrong.

And even if you did follow her diet, what’s she gonna do when he gets older and wants to eat meat like his classmates? Deny him that? To me it sounds like her being vegan, forcing her son to be one and you to be one is about control, which is a form of abuse.

Being vegan doesn’t make you a better person, being vegan is harmful to environment, being vegan also harms animals.

formerad0 writes:

It’s perfectly 100% normal for a 2 1/2-year-old to be eating whatever his parents are eating obviously everybody’s idea of health varies from household household. But I certainly wasn’t making separate meals for my toddlers or anything like that.

Your situation is a little bit different but I will say that she is in the wrong here. She can have her beliefs and eat the way she chooses to eat and she can certainly teach your son about that and he will eat the way she eats when he is at her house.

It’s unfortunate that you have separated but the fact is if you have an ex husband who is the father of your child lives in a separate house and has his own arrangements of custody with his own son he can feed him whatever he wants to.

She cannot control that anymore than she will be able to control what he feels like eating when he learns a variety of things about food and nutrition as an older child or as a teenager.

You absolutely do not have to feed him the way she says. It’s a little bit different then let’s say your son ate strictly vegan at home and then went to grandmas house for the weekend I think it would be OK to remind your parents of how your family eats and to feed your son accordingly but you are his child’s father! She can’t control that.

YNW, but you should consult with a lawyer and get things hammered out better. Her requesting son not to be fed too much junk food is fine, demanding you not feed him normal nutritious food is not.

And keep in mind, children raised strictly vegan/vegetarian will struggle to eat animal proteins as an adult, and may not be able to digest them at all. Which to me is a form of abuse as you are forcing a child to stick to a diet they make not wish to maintain once they are older. Good luck.

ladyxochi writes:

I'm divorced and remarried. Me and my husband both have kids from our previous relationships. I've spoken to multiple coaches/councillors about how to parent with your ex AND how to parent in a house with someone else's kids.

All councillors say this: "Under my roof" Vs "under your roof". This means that it's good to teach your kids the same values, but rules that go for one parent/household (roof) aren't necessarily valid at the other house/parent. It IS good to let each other know, but don't expect your ex to follow your rules.

In your case: I'd tell your ex you're not going to raise your son a vegan, but that you're going to let him decide. But tell her this once. Don't tell her every time you give him something non-vegan. I'd tell your son that his mother is vegan and that's a good choice... for her.

And that you're not vegan and that's a good choice too. Maybe you can tell your son you DO see where his mother is coming from and that you do understand her choice. Most importantly, that you respect her choice.

And then tell your son that if he wants to eat only vegan food when he's okay, you can facilitate that. But if he wants to eat the same as you, that's okay too. Okay, maybe simplify that for a 2.5 year old, but you get the point, right?

Whatever you do, never tell your son his mother is wrong in her choices. I can only hope she's doing the same. In the end, kids know who's controlling and who's supportive.

dimgrund7 writes:

NTA. It is one thing if you were both vegan number following a nutrition plan set up by a doctor or license nutritionist. Sounds like she went vegan after he was born. Now that is implied because you never stated if she was a vegan before she had a child and he only stated that she was feeding the child a vegan diet.

So the information missing is, is she a vegan and how long has she been following this path? One thing that concerns me is that she forced you to stop eating meat substitutes because your son might be attracted to eating meat later in life when he's able to make his own choices.

Just how long exactly is she planning on forcing this diet on your son? At what point does he get to decide for himself?

If you don't have a written custody agreement, you better get one now. She has no right to force you to feed him your son only what she wants.

Start off and making the appointment with a doctor and a nutritionist for the next time that you have custody and get them to sign off on a letter stating that her vegan diet is not necessary for your son.

You can afford a lawyer get one to draft a custody agreement that blocks her from dictating your diet or that diet of your son.

Looks like OP is mostly NTA here. Do you agree with his parenting tactics? Or does his ex have a point?

Sources: Reddit
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