It's hard to watch a sibling raise their kids poorly. When this woman is conflicted about her sister's parenting, she asks the popular Reddit forum:
WBITA if I tried to talk to my sister about her kids’ diet? My sister has two girls, 9 and 3. I’ve been concerned about the way she feeds them for YEARS and every time I visit her I think about trying to talk to her about it, but I never do. I don’t have kids and therefore don’t know what it’s like to be a parent, and thus feel like I am not entitled to an opinion.
That said, the kids can’t advocate for themselves, and I don’t know that anyone else has tried to advocate for them.
To be completely fair to my sister, she adores her kids and is generally a great Mom, and has a REALLY tough go of it. Her husband is an airline pilot and in the Army Reserves, so he’s home for about 5-6 days per month on average. She owns a business and goes to school part time and is otherwise 100% responsible for the kids.
But ALL THEY EAT is shitty processed food. Breakfast: white bread with butter and sugar, or microwaveable “breakfast corn dogs”, or sugary cereal Lunch: Lunchables; a bag of cookies or Cosmic Brownies; chips; sugary juice. Maybe grapes if they’re lucky.
Dinner: This one’s a crapshoot. She does cook quite often but it’s typically Southern food that’s heavy in canned condensed soups, high in sodium and fat, and focused primarily on meat and simple carbs.
If there’s a vegetable in sight, it’s broccoli that’s been microwaved to death or canned green beans that have been boiled to gray mush. If she doesn’t cook, the kids will make a ham and American cheese sandwich on white bread, or fend for themselves with Slim Jim’s and other garbage snacks from the pantry.
The youngest one (L) asks for water frequently saying she’s thirsty, and I don’t think I have ever seen my sister get up and get her sippy cup to fill with water. She hands her the soda that’s nearest to her or tells L to go get a juice from the pantry. She’s not tall enough to get water from the fridge dispenser herself.
Both kids seem to be sick constantly with all kinds of sinus issues and allergies. All the women have yeast infections regularly, especially L. My sister is overweight; both kids are very slim and physically active.
The worst part of all of this is that my sister KNOWS BETTER. She recently had a “food revolution” and switched to a vegan diet because it turns out both girls and she are dairy intolerant. That lasted about 3-4 months and now it’s back to the usual terrible diet, with some non-dairy substitutions.
WIBTA if I tried to express my concerns to her, or should I just keep my trap shut because I don’t have kids and don’t know how hard it is, and therefore this is the only way she can do it?
NTA if you handled it correctly. Like don't attack her, maybe just start by sending her some easy, healthy recipes and be like 'Hey I tried this and thought you'd like it' or something. Slowly ease into it. However, if you are unable to take an active role in trying to help her, it does seem like it'd just come across poorly. Just ease into it and hopefully she'll listen but in all honesty, I wouldn't be hopefully of change.
YWBTA. This is a conversation for her pediatrician to have with her, not you. I understand that you have good intentions, and your concerns are valid and you love your sister and her kids, but you can't swoop in a few times a year and criticize how she's parenting.
It sounds like she has zero help since her husband is gone most of the month, and she's probably doing the best that she can. Maybe you can buy her a Hello Fresh/Blue Apron style subscription to help her and the kids eat healthier.
NTA. Those poor kids. But be prepared for your sister to be defensive and angry. It sounds like she struggles to have a healthy concept of diet for herself, and is passing that on to her kids.
Fad elimination diets are attractive to people like that because it’s a “quick cure” to their unhealthy behaviors.
Of course it’s not the cure and it needs to be applied consistently, but she doesn’t seem capable of that.
I am horrified that a child too small to reach the water dispenser on the fridge is having YEAST INFECTIONS. Omg that is so not normal.