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Mom sparks debate by forbidding son from giving food to hungry friend at school.

Mom sparks debate by forbidding son from giving food to hungry friend at school.


That a child can be sent to school and spend an entire day hungry is a terrible reality. But if you yourself can't afford to feed an extra child, what do you do?

Reddit's 'Am I the As*hole' usually breaks down conflicts into pretty clear rights and wrongs. In this situation, even the Reddit jury had some nuanced opinions.

'AITA (Am I the As*hole) for sending my son to school with less food and explicitly telling him not to share with his best friend?'

This situation began a year ago and blew up in our faces last week.

My son Gregory is 13 years old. He just began the 8th grade. His friend, Peter, is also 13 and began the 8th grade too.

Gregory and Peter have been friends since elementary school. Last year, I noticed that Gregory would be ravenously hungry after school every day. He would come home and eat a frozen dinner or something, and then help himself to seconds at dinner time. I chalked this up to him being a 12-year-old boy and let it be.

Something about the situation was nagging at me though, and while Gregory wasn't clear about why at first, he eventually came clean. Peter was being sent to school every day with no lunch. It looks to me like a typical case of neglectful and unfit parents.

The one time that Gregory went to their house he came home with comments about it smelling really bad and his Peter's parents locking themselves in the garage for hours.

Feeling bad for Peter, I decided to discretely begin giving Gregory more food every day, just about doubling all his food. Over time I became less discrete and began packing a separate lunch for Peter. I was never thanked for this by anyone, but I knew Peter was eating the food I sent.

This year, things are different. Money is tighter for personal reasons and frankly with how expensive things are, I have decided not to spend exorbitant amounts of money supporting someone else's child. I sat Gregory down and told him that I would be packing him one lunch which is for him and him alone. I made it extremely clear: do not share with anyone, and this includes Peter.

Gregory followed my instructions until one day last week I got a phone call from Peter's mother. She was livid that I had cut Peter off without a single word. I asked her when it became my responsibility to feed her son, and she responded that if she had known I wasn't sending Gregory to school with 'too much food,' she would have handled it herself.

I asked if she remembered why I began sending him to school with two lunches in the first place and she hung up on me.

I feel conflicted. I know I'm having my kindness thrown back in my face, but did I approach this situation incorrectly?

Because you can't really blame the mom for not having the resources to feed both kids, but that cutting off another kid so abruptly is undoubtedly harsh, thousands of opinions rolled into the comments. Here's what the jury of internet strangers had to say:

RhaineMolecule said:

I hate to say YTA in this situation, but you are. Not for how you handled the mother, but because as far as Peter himself knows, you did 'cut him off' without a word. He's the only one who's suffered here.

And while you're correct that it's not technically your responsibility, and your family absolutely needs to come first in terms of tighter finances, for any reason, yes you did handle this incorrectly.

Toadseyegem said:

[Everyone sucks here], except the kids. Children going hungry is everyone's business, and he was relying on you. You make no mention of trying to contact anyone about this, or trying to find another solution, you just cut off his access to food.

If you can't afford it or don't want to feed this child, that's your prerogative, but then you reach out to those who can. You talk to the school district, you talk to the PTA, you talk to whoever you need to, you don't just turn a blind eye to a child going hungry and say 'not my kid, not my problem'.

Major_Barnacle_2212 said:

Why not tell his parents that you can no longer do “spare lunch” but wanted them to know so they could take back over. Maybe calling them out would have helped solve his long-term issue.

Lastly, feeding lunch does not keep a kid alive. Please call CPS. The signs your son saw plus no lunch say that he is in trouble. Help him.

Everyone sucks here, not for stopping the lunches, just for some missteps.

Spallanzani333 said:

YTA for how you handled it. You started packing full daily lunches for him and did it for a year. Nobody forced you to do that, but you chose to, then stopped with no warning.

For a child experiencing neglect and probably feeling a lack of trust in adults, it seems like just another time an adult in his life abandoned him. He could very easily be blaming himself and wondering what he did wrong and thinking that he was a burden.

And that's how the cookie crumbles.

Good on her for feeding the child, bad on her for stopping and abandoning her kid's best friend without a word to an authority.

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