I think that most of us would agree that when you’re in charge of someone else’s kids during limited periods of time, you follow their rules. It’s generally not our place to question how other people raise their kids, right?
What if those kids are family, though? And what if you believe, after spending a good amount of time with them, that they are being criminally mistreated?
Those are the questions this woman is having to answer after looking after her cousins for several weeks while their mother (her aunt) searched for a new job.
Her aunt has some very particular ideas about how to raise kids, including no medical interventions and a strict diet. At first, OP figured she should follow the rules her aunt laid out, but as time went on, she noticed the kids were not thriving.
I (18F) have two cousins (12M&5F) that live with my aunt (34F).
My aunt is a self proclaimed hippie, she doesn’t believe in modern medicine, vaccines and even denied my cousin needed glasses despite his complains over the years. She however does believe that everything we eat should be naturally grown, fat free and organic. This will be important later on.
Half a year ago my aunt lost her job due to her refusing to get the vaccine and moved in with us. I was put in charge of taking care of my cousins while she job hunts, which I don’t mind doing since they are very well behaved.
When I started taking care of them my aunt sat me down in front of a long list of what they cannot eat which said: no fat, no spices, no sugar, no carbs, no dairy among many other requests I found ridiculous.
I should state this, both of my cousins are skinny to the point some would consider them malnourished so the fact that they had to diet on top of that was ridiculous.
At first I obeyed her rules, they’re her kids not mine after all. But after a while I started noticing how the diet affected the kids. They never had enough energy to do anything, didn’t want to run or play like most kids their age and just looked miserable in general.
Once she started adding more calories to their diets their energy and happiness improved, and when she took the older one to the eye doctor and bought him the glasses he badly needed, he thanked her for finally making school a bit easier.
It was then that I decided to start putting forbidden food in their meals, after a while of me doing so they both gained some healthy weight and began playing like most kids their age.
My aunt didn’t notice anything so I got bold and took my cousin to the optometrist to get his eyesight checked, turns out he was -1.25 on both eyes.
I bought him glasses and told him to wear them whenever my aunt wasn’t around and he thanked me later saying he can finally see the chalkboard at school.
Of course, nothing good lasts forever, and it wasn’t long until the kids were busted eating sugar and, you know, seeing properly. The aunt took them to stay with someone else and the kids are right back where they started.
Last week we were playing at a park and I gave my youngest cousin some mini oreos to share with her friends on the play ground. I later heard crying only to see my aunt dragging the 5 y/o towards my direction, apparently she was walking by the park when she saw her eating the oreos.
Then she noticed the 12 y/o wearing glasses and absolutely lost it on me.
Berating me on how I could go behind her back and feed her children trash food and cripple them by making them wear unnecessary things (glasses).
She confiscated the glasses and now moved temporarily to my other aunt’s house while I’m grounded till further notice.
The family is torn on whether or not OP did the right thing – but what does Reddit think?
My grandma is the only one supporting me on this issue saying that my aunt borderline abused those kids by depriving them of food and medical assistance and that I did the right thing by trying to put a stop to it.
My friends are conflicted, some say it’s not my place to dictate how others raise their children and some say they would’ve done the same.
Read through some comments, and then we’ve got some doozies when it comes to updates at the bottom of the post!
Several social workers chimed in stating that OP should report the case to CPS – they even offered to help her through the process.
And several people pointed out that CPS are the experts; if OP is worried about their health and well-being, she should call.
Everyone agrees that, when it comes to the glasses at least, the aunt is being downright cruel.
It doesn’t seem like a healthy lifestyle choice, or one that’s been well-researched at all.
They thought she should let the father know what’s going on, at the very least.
But wait! There’s more!
OP provided these updates, and a lot has happened.
Edit: wow I didn’t expect this to blow up so quickly, thank you all for your advice on the matter.
I’m currently trying to get in contact with my cousins father and inform him of the situation, if I fail to do so I will probably try and reach out to my aunt one last time. I’m trying to take the most peaceful route since I don’t want my cousins to go through the process of CPS investigation.
But if neither of those things work and nothing changes I will be definitely contacting CPS. Does anyone know how much evidence I need to make a case? The kids have been in a healthy weight range ever since I started feeding them so I don’t think they will show any signs of malnourishment in an investigation.
Also, is it true they don’t take the kids away from the parent right away? I’m very scared they might end up in the care system upon report and I don’t want to put them in this situation.
The father will be getting involved and OP has done everything she can on her end to get the ball rolling and documentation started.
Update: I THINK WE FOUND THE DAD!! You guys are insane! It’s honestly scary how fast the internet works and how accessible our digital footprint is. This feels surreal, I didn’t think I would be able to find him so quickly. Thank you so much for reaching out in the massages and recommending the right places to check for him, I don’t think I would’ve figured it out without you all.
Since I couldn’t get ahold of his phone number I’ve sent him and who I presume to be his new wife an email explaining the situation and how I found them, I also sent some old pictures of him and I along side my phone number asking for him to call me when possible.
I’ll keep you updated on how it goes and if he answers! I really hope I massaged the right guy and he replies.
Last update for a while: I did get in contact with the dad and I’ve spoken with both him and his new wife, a lot of things are starting to make sense now.
For those asking why he wasn’t a part of their lives after he left the story is really complicated so I’ll sum it up in some points:
A) the court almost always gives mom custody B) going to court is expensive and he couldn’t afford a decent lawyer after the divorce C) got arrested for a crime at 19 (smoking you know what) so he got ruled out almost immediately as an incompetent father D) some personal issues I won’t go into E) my aunt is batshit crazy
On the bright side after hearing out what’s happening with the kids he is rushing back to the city. From what I’ve gathered he has some money saved up and his new FIL agreed to give him more money for a really good lawyer
I’m currently packing a suitcase, they should be in town in 4-5 days and by that time I’ll move in with a good friend of mine. I didn’t tell anyone besides grandma he’s coming, once he gets here we would contact CPS together while his lawyer hopefully contacts my aunt with the custody case. The idea is to attack the issue from as many directions as possible so she’ll have no loophole to escape with.
My only concern is I don’t know how 12y/o will react to his dad returning, over the years his feeling towards him constantly changed from hate to love and back again which is understandable considering the circumstances.
Today I contacted 12y/o school counselor like some of you suggested, she agreed to write a report regarding the glasses but refused to address the dietary restrictions. I don’t understand why but considering she will be writing a report I feel like I can’t complain too much.
The past week has been insane and I don’t know how I feel regarding anything at this point, I have a feeling that this is only the beginning and the real battle will start once their dad arrives here.
I don’t know if I’ll update again but know this, I’m going to get my cousins out of this one way or another. Thank you for all the legal advice and emotional support, I really appreciate it.
Wish me luck!
I wish there were more updates, but maybe in the future!
Would you have done the same thing in this situation or would you have stayed in your lane?
Tell us in the comments because this one is tough!