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AIBU to ignore parents dietary wishes for their che(289 Posts)
(For background, I’m in a country where things have reopened)
I am currently spending a lot of time with my brother’s 2 DC, giving him and his wife a few hours break from the kids each day (they were going batty in lockdown). The DC are on extremely strict diets for ethical/environmental reasons - v limited grain/carbs, no milk, no sugar, 1 small piece a fruit per day. We were recently at the park where some other parents expressed surprise at the small frame of one of the DC.
This DC (3yrs) is always asking me for food when we are alone together. We planned to have a picnic in the park (prepared/approved snacks from home) and were joined by a friend who brought homemade banana bread and butter. Before I could stop DC, she reached for the butter and popped the entire thing in her mouth. I was silently laughing to myself, but decided not to react to DC.
DC asks me for milk for her doll (which I put into a little toy bottle and she subsequently drinks herself / pretends to feed it to the doll if within eyesight of the parents), we also sometimes sneak in a natural yogurt on our trips together and grain crackers.
I am not a parent, but can imagine feeling frustrated if someone I trusted my children’s care to was defying my groundrules. At the same time, this child is underweight, and when I enquired with my brother about whether she eats all of her dinner (worried perhaps I was creating dinner time issues for them later at home) he said the DC always eats everything she is given. AIBU to continue this little eating charade when DC is in my care?
What do the parents feed their child? Children should not be on a restricted diet and need lots of fruit and veg. It is hard but can you try and tackle it with her parents? If a child is hungry and under weight then it is neglect. If the child is thriving on diet then none of your business and yes should keep to it. If they are not then you should intervene.
Jeez. From the initial title I was going to say YANVVVVU. But then I read your story and gosh I changed my mind. I'm not sure I could do anything different to you to be honest, but I'm also not sure that this is the right way of dealing with it. (Although you're clearly coming from a great place). Are the kids ok otherwise? Can you speak to your brother?
The problem you have is that at some point the kids will tell on you, and then you've lost trust, and you won't be able to help them. Better to deal with it upfront rather than when found out, but I'm not sure how! 😣
I’m not a parent but I’m currently on a very restricted diet for a health issue and I am still allowed unlimited fruit so that diet for children seems insane.
Poor child that sounds incredibly cruel and as a pp mentioned if the child is obviously underweight surely that is considered neglect?
Why are they on such a restricted diet, what are they ethical/environmental issues?
The adults can restrict their diet as much as they want but as a parent you are responsible for encouraging your child to thrive, that includes making sure they get all the food groups and essential fats etc a growing child needs.
If you genuinely believe this child is underweight and neglected, report to the appropriate services.
I used to babysit for 2 girls that were on restricted diets like you mention above (parents were very strict health/fitness fanatics) and as soon as they were out of sight of the parents they would stuff their faces with anything and everything.
Both girls are grown up now and are obese. I think that the overly restrictive diet gave them food issues and as soon as they were in control of their own nutrition they just went mad on it.
They might think they are giving their kids the best start but could be lining them up for severe food issues later in life.
I would definitely say something to your brother in the first instance.
What’s the reason for the diet? It doesn’t sound like the child is getting everything they need but at the same time my very well fed toddler is always saying “I’m still hungry” even if she’s just eaten loads, so I think it might be something toddlers just say to get a reaction.
Why is it ethical/environmental to restrict grains and fruit?
Speak to your brother and say DC always seems hungry and you're not comfortable refusing them food (albeit healthy food) when they're clearly hungry and seem underweight. Ask him what's going on and why he is continuing to restrict their diet even though they're underweight (if of course they are actually underweight). If it continues contact the relevant authorities.
It does sound very restrictive but is she definitely underweight? Many children are overweight so a normal weight child might appear to be underweight. Especially to parents of children who are slightly overweight. It is normal to be able to see their ribs for example. Having said that young children need fats to grow more than adults so it is not unreasonable to be concerned.
Just beware it will probably come out. My little boy was friends with a little girl in our street. She used to come round and play and she would ask for food.
Her mum said she had a sugar allergy (yes, an allergy to sugar), dairy allergy and a wheat allergy despite giving her all those things herself. I really had seen this with my own eyes and they weren't special allergy or "free from" versions of the food, so much so I had to stop myself on several occasions from saying, "I thought you said she had x allergies? Isn't that prohibited?".
Mum popped in for daughter and caught the little girl with one of those chocolate pre wrapped pancake things and eyebrows were raised. The mum didn't go mad and was polite, but the little girl cowered and cringed and I knew I'd been unreasonable (very) for putting the little girl in that situation.
Giving food is giving love and you obviously love your little nieces/nephews, OP. They do seem to need the food but the kids have a way of getting you found out.
I know of a child who is extremely ill after her mother’s diet paranoias. I would be very concerned about this.
Presumably they have been seen by a doctor/ health visitor ? Do the parents have eating issues ?
I'd really struggle tbh but I'm a feeder 😢
Thank you for your thoughtful answers. The DC is incredibly loved and has a happy disposition. I don’t think she is neglected, she’s just very small and very hungry. I guess you could describe the diet as Paleo.
Try talking to your brother first.
It's disordered eating by proxy, and a total abandonment of parental responsibility.
Some parents starve their children. If you genuinely think this is happening (maybe try to get a better picture of food intake over a whole day) you shouldn't just be feeding them extras when you have them, you need to report them. I have heard of a child starved by his mother, no financial reasons they were just not fed properly. The child died. You may find out the children get loads to eat - just maybe more healthy stuff then they would like - but the restriction on fruit makes this sounds a bit more serious than that.
Oh gosh, this is awful to read.
My view is that it's neglect...and I wouldn't participate in that neglect.
How completely hideous...ethical reasons.. wtf
It is hard to say whether the child is underweight or not because being overweight is normalised so much. Having said that, if a child is hungry, they should be fed so I would say to your brother that you are giving them food as she is hungry.
They are starving their child. Is there anything like the NSPCC where you are, I'd call and ask advice.
he said the DC always eats everything she is given
Of course she does...hungry people will eat everything they're given
Where are they getting their calcium from if they're not having milk etc?
Sounds like neglect to me.
Dietary restrictions that may suit a sedentary middle aged person have no place for a child.
It is hard to say whether the child is underweight or not because being overweight is normalised so much
Let's not get into this nonsense...did you not read the part about the girl drinking milk from the dolls bottle when the parents aren't looking?
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