Dad Refused To 'Beg' His 8-Year-Old To Eat While Wife Was Away & She Says He 'Starved' Their Son

Picky eating is about more than just food, it's about emotions and relationships.

man and woman arguing over sad boy at dinner table Ann in the uk and VGstockstudio via Shutterstock

A father discovered just how complex the issues around food, health, and family can be when his wife went away for a weekend, leaving him in charge of caring for their 8-year-old son. The father wrote to the r/parenting subreddit seeking outside perspectives on whether he managed his son’s picky eating habits incorrectly.

According to the dad’s account, he resigned to ‘beg’ his 8-year-old to eat meals while his wife was away, and she believes that he ‘starved’ their son.

The dad explained that his wife “usually ‘takes care’ of his food, and she is always complaining that he won’t eat any vegetables or meat. She fights him for hours and then caves and makes him chicken nuggets or macaroni.”


The dad mentioned, “I'm not allowed to feed him because I don't ‘try hard enough,’ even though she barely gets any real food into him.”

little boy eating a grilled cheese sandwichPhoto: Anna Shvets / Pexels

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When the mom left for a weekend trip, the dad took it as an opportunity to see if he could shift his son’s picky eating patterns. He made eggs, bacon, and toast for breakfast, which his son refused to eat. He made turkey sandwiches for lunch, which his son again refused to eat. The dad made meatloaf for dinner, and this time, when his son wouldn’t eat, the dad sent him to bed.

His son spent the next day begging for Oreos and macaroni, but the dad maintained his rigid rules, telling his son that “he can eat the food I make or just not eat.”

'I will not beg him to eat his food,' the dad stated. 'I will not bargain with a child to eat what his body needs to survive.'

Yet his son’s refusal to eat continued. The dad reported, “I took away his electronics and cooked corn beef hash and eggs, a salad, and some tacos. He refused to eat and so I sent him to bed.”

When his wife came home from her trip, their son “cried to her that I starved him for two days.”


The wife grew angry, yelling at her husband; he showed her all of the uneaten meals he’d saved in the fridge. 

“Now, I’m kicked out of the bedroom, and she's consoling our son and ‘feeding him,’” The dad said. “She says I starved him, but I made sure he had stuff to eat.”

The dad edited his original post, clarifying, “There were other things to eat available like yogurt, apples, bananas, [peanut butter and jelly] stuff. He knows how to get himself food. I refused to cook anything other than stuff I knew he'd eaten before. He is not autistic, and the only sensory issues he has is overstimulation and loud noises.”

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The responses that the dad received varied wildly. Some people believed that he was too strict with his son.

Others expressed their belief that his wife seems too lenient. Most people came to the shared conclusion that the core issue of this family’s struggle around picky eating was about more than just food.

Many people suggested that they take their son to see the pediatrician, in order to have him properly assessed for nutritional needs, sensory issues, and beyond. One person noted that the dad and his wife need to have a serious conversation about how meals are approached in their family. As they said, “Parenting is trial and error — What works for one child will not work for another and what works at one point in time may not work in another… You both want a happy healthy child, start the conversation there.”

“Food should never be a battleground,” commented another person. Someone else said, “You both feel like your approaches are coming from a place of love, but I am sure you can find a middle ground that will help solve this problem.”


little boy holding spoon Photo : Ron Lach / Pexels

A different person acknowledged the importance of the parents taking a unified approach to their son’s picky eating, saying, “If you can't get on the same page, you are both going to hand down your own issues with food insecurity to your son and that's an inheritance he doesn't deserve.” 

Another comment came from a registered dietitian, who expressed just how complex the challenges of feeding children can be, stating, “As you can see in the comments and in your own home, it is a very emotional topic.”


“You have very different parenting approaches with the food, and this has caused you to become polarized from each other,” they explained. In their response, the dietitian urged the parents to seek professional support to navigate what’s become a conflicted issue in their household. 

Everyone needs to eat to survive, yet as this dad’s post shows, eating and being fed are tied up in our emotional worlds, and in the ways we relate to one another. The dad made it clear that he understood that something beyond picky eating was happening with his son, and planned to seek out support and care. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers parenting issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.