Parenting siblings when they don’t get along can be a challenge, especially as they reach the teen years. One dad recently found himself in the unenviable position of playing referee between his son and daughter. Having recently switched to a vegan diet, the man’s 14-year-old daughter was copping some flak from her 16-year-old brother, who took things too far when he hid her food and pretended he’d thrown it in the bin. Was this good-natured banter that got out of hand, or was he bullying his sister as his father suggests? Was the father’s decision to teach his son a lesson by making him eat vegan food for a month a just punishment or was it compounding the problem?
My family and friends are all calling me abusive, but I cannot see how any of this is abusive or assholish in any way.
So, I have 2 kids (16 M and 14 F.) Last year, my daughter decided to go vegan. I didn’t have any problem with this one bit. I give her the money that I would spend on food for her anyway, she buys her own food and cooks it herself if what her mom is making isn’t vegan. It has been the tiniest change we have ever had to go through.
For some reason though, my son has taken this change as an opportunity to bully his sister. I’ve made it clear to him that this is not ok at all, and have punished him sever times for his bullying, but it has never gotten through to him.
Last week, this all came to a head when my son took all of the food my daughter had bought for the week and hid it pretending he threw it away on garbage day. I got a call in the middle of the day at work from my daughter crying saying that he had thrown all her food away. I had to rush home only to discover it was just a prank. I was livid. I was ready to make him eat nothing but rice for the rest of his time under my roof but my wife calmed me down and came up with a better plan. For the next 30 days, we are going to eat nothing but vegan food. We will make nothing but vegan food and buy nothing but vegan products.
I told my son this, and that if he wants anything else he will be paying for it. He lost his mind, but for the past 5 days, we have been a vegan family. Well, my son called my parents and they rang me up furious. Telling me that I was abusing him. I ended up hanging up on them. The rest of my family followed suit, and some friends have now joined in saying that this is assholish of me.
My son is miserable, but I really don’t care. He brought this upon himself. He still has food to eat, and can spend what little pocket money he has to buy meat for the next 25 days if he wants.
Many commenters came out in support of the father’s creative punishment choice and praised his parenting.
This is honestly more of a learning opportunity than a punishment. And it’s definitely not abusive. He’s only being limited to vegan-only foods that you buy for home. He can buy/cook his own food for home and eat what he wants anywhere else. Maybe now he’ll learn to stop being a shit to his sister (Arctic_Puppet)
NTA. My parents made us eat a vegetarian diet for much of my childhood. Stuff like tofu broccoli pie. My SO and I joke that it was borderline child abuse but the truth is, I was getting well-balanced nutritional meals 3x a day (plus healthy snacks between meals). Yeah some of the food was gross imo (back then vegetarian options weren’t great or as common as now) but it still had the nutrients I needed. So yeah it’s perfectly fine to feed him a vegan diet for a month, you’re not starving him.
And good for you sticking up for your daughter and supporting her decision to be vegan. And good for your daughter for planning, buying and cooking her own meals! Good life skills! (f-u-c-k-usernames)
NTA. If your son thinks this is abuse he must have a great life. “Oh no! My parents are making me eat healthy food, enough to sustain me. I must call my grandparents and tell them about this abuse!”
You sound like amazing parents. (Poekienijn)
NTA. You aren’t starving him, and you aren’t even singling him out. You are all eating vegan as a family. You haven’t even disallowed him from eating non vegan in the house, he just has to pay for it if he wants it. Being an asshole has consequences, and I think you handled it well. (FlukeArts)
NTA. My brother once threw a beef sausage at me when I went vego. I wish my mother had stuck up for me like this. (greensky_mj21)
Nice parenting job! Your daughter was cooking her own food because she preferred something different from the rest of the family. Your son bullied her for her food choices. Now, if he prefers something different from the rest of the family, he has to buy and cook his own food. Poetic justice. NTA (Global-Flounder-2748)
But not everyone agreed that the father had done a ‘nice parenting job’. Many people were concerned about him using food as a punishment.
Punishing your kids with food is never a good idea. A vegan diet is a very specific diet, and some people spin off from that into an eating disorder. You shouldn’t be playing around with this or pushing your diet views on him. let your son eat food that he enjoys eating and move on (Yourbubblestink)
Sorry but YTA! Never use food as a reward or punishment it can cause unforeseen damage. (hocusxpocusx)
Other people thought that the father’s dramatic response to the prank signalled a deeper issue within the family dynamic
I mean, I hate pranks, but it wasn’t one of those that ended up with someone getting hurt, someone’s property being destroyed, someone being humiliated. And she’s 14, not 5. The whole phone call in tears, dad leaving work to rush home and his initial plan to put his other child on prison rations until his wife calmed him down over a stupid and pretty harmless prank is telling. Golden child has daddy wrapped around her finger. (anon)
You’re both A-holes.
Him for bullying his sister and you for weaponizing food as punishment like a bully.
Is there a reason he is bullying his sister over this? Are you showing her favoritism and he’s lashing out? The fact your wife has to calm you down from weaponizing food against him over a prank is concerning and a red flag. There’s other things you can do for thirty days that doesn’t deprive someone of a certain diet such as barring him from TV.
You may want to talk to him with a therapist and actually solve this problem before it gets worse, because it will. (msw0915)
What do you think? Did the son get the punishment he deserved or did the Dad overreact to the prank?