You be the Judge: Man Kicks Sister Out Over Gluten Rule

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“The other night I ate at a real nice family restaurant. Every table had an argument going” — George Carlin

Family can be the bedrock of life or the bane of existence, and those two are not mutually exclusive. Support can sometimes lead to conflict, and that’s where this installment of “You be the Judge” comes in.

A man posting on reddit relays the story of taking in his sister, then kicking her out after she ignores the house rule multiple times.

The story, entitled “AITA for kicking my sister out for bringing gluten into our gluten-free kitchen?” by poster u/poorunfortunatgluten starts with a description of the man’s young daughter who is coping with celiac disease and the accommodations they’ve made for her. He takes in her sister and her kids for an unspecified personal reason, and then trouble ensues.

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We’ve referred to the “AITA” subreddit (i.e. group) before where this story is posted. AITA is short for “Am I the A-Hole” and it provides a medium where people question their own behavior and the readers vote.

Here is u/poorunfortunatgluten’s story with a warning for a bit of strong language:

My daughter is on the more severe end of celiac. ANY cross-contamination would set her back for weeks. It has taken us years to get her properly diagnosed and treated, and at 10 years old she now is underweight and has severe anxiety about food. She will not eat if she feels it’s unsafe, and it’s hard for me to blame her.

Our house has both a kitchen and a kitchenette in the basement, complete with full sets of pans and utensils. Our main rule for the house is that there is absolutely no dairy, gluten, or seafood to be kept or cooked in the kitchen (our older son is allergic to seafood and my wife is lactose intolerant). The kitchenette is for items containing those ingredients.

My sister and her kids have had to move in with us for personal reasons. They live in the basement bedrooms, and when they moved in, we very clearly explained this rule to them and why. It took less than a week for us to find a box of pasta in the kitchen. We explained the rule and moved it, and she was apologetic. A month later, my daughter comes to us in a panic because my sister was making fried chicken in the kitchen. My sister was apologetic, but insisted she needed to because the kitchenette was “too small”.

It felt harsh, but we moved all of the food to the basement, threw out every single pan and utensil she may have used, and deep cleaned the kitchen. These incidents making the kitchen no longer 100% guaranteed safe has made her regress in therapy. We’re working on it, but unfortunately right now, it is so bad again that we have to feed her exclusively takeout from the one gluten-free restaurant around unless we want her in inpatient care.

Which takes us to last Sunday. I get home, and my daughter is having the worst panic attack I have ever seen. My mom and sister were in the kitchen making an entire Sunday dinner. Spaghetti, mozzarella sticks, garlic bread, the works. I lost it.

I ended up absolutely screaming at them that they were ruining my life and had threatened my daughter’s life for the last time, and I had had it. I threw all of the food out into the yard, and told my sister that if she really cared that little about her own niece’s life, she could get the fuck out of my house. Now my mom is mad at me for kicking out my sister and her kids when they’re vulnerable over “a food allergy” but I don’t care. She can even leave the kids here if she absolutely needs to, but I’m done with her. We have ONE rule. ONE. My wife agrees with me but thinks I should give one last chance and just not allow sister to bring ANY food into the house. My mom can’t take her in and she can’t afford rent anywhere, so she would be homeless if we didn’t let her stay. I’m not sure I’m in the wrong here.

Edit:

The possibility of inpatient care has come up before, and been fully investigated by her medical team. If she went into inpatient care, she would be eating takeout from the same restaurant there as well as they would also not be able to safely cook for her in their facilities. The only true differences would be more monitoring and not being at home.

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The post has garnered over 17,000 “upvotes” to date, meaning readers think the topic is interesting and thought-provoking, but not that they necessarily agree with his actions.

Now we turn to you, our readers — who know a thing or two about food restrictions and cross-contact — and ask you to be the judge. Was the poster justified in booting his sister and her family out, or did he overreact? How would you have handled the situation?

Sound off below and let us know what you think.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of SnackSafely.com.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Completely justified. Any immediate family member who shows so little regard for the health and safety of other family members is either negligent or malicious. Neither have a place in the home when it comes to severe food allergies. They were notified of the rules before moving in, broke them once, got another chance, then blatantly broke them again. It’s not OP’s fault that his sister “can’t afford rent anywhere else”. She should have thought of that before she introduced gluten into the house twice after explicitly being told that is unacceptable.

  2. Nick has already summarized the most valid and clear moral stand in this case.

    Only thing I’ll add is the more general confusion that often exists in the “my rights” crowd (in this case and in most cases, rights being moral rather than legal). The simple clear stand is that you have a right to do anything you want right up to the point that it adversely affects someone else. And the practical reality of that is that there are very very few selfish things that you can do that don’t affect someone else. Consequences are a thing, no need for bleeding hearts over that. Move that family out of your house and your life.

  3. 100% agree with him. Get out if you can’t follow the rules. -I love you, but I love my daughter more.- He’s a dad and that’s how it should be. Protect your children. Way to go!

  4. If they stayed in your house I will not allow them to do any cooking upstsirs. If need to they can eat outside the house.

  5. Really, when you remove the emotions, family connections and drama, this is a clear cut case that a judge would have no problem deciding on. The father is first and foremost responsible in keeping his daughter and his own family safe. This includes keeping the home safe. There is no other option for his household. Period.

    The sister will never respect the rules, and she and her mother are looking to prove that no one in that home has an issue with any foods. They are deadly and dangerous to the family, and should be treated as such. Kick them out and NEVER let them step foot in the home or they will sabotage the home. Do not accept gifts, they will be laced with hidden gluten and shellfish products. Never ever ever ever trust anything to do with them, in the home or outside the home. Period. They will sprinkle flour on your coat when you’re not looking. Zero trust.

    Case closed. Put your responsibilities first. The other grownups like to stir trouble and deserve figuring out how to live with each other if homelessnessis their issue. If or when the sister loses custody of any of her kids, consider taking them in ONLY if there is a court order restraining the sister and mother from giving the kids anything that will harm that household. If they break the court order, have them arrested. Do not budge on this.

    Sorry, but if these were strangers, the sister and mother would be treated differently, so why treat them so forgivable to the point of killing a child? That is the only fault of the father and his wife – they are giving the sister and mother extra chances to kill their daughter or son, because they are trying to help extended family and care. They must be strong for their kids, and stop risking their children.

    I know. It’s easier said than done. But when CPS gets involved and takes that little girl, or she dies, how are they going the live with knowing they failed their own child?

    Let this be a deep, hard lesson for all of us. We must be strong and never let others stop us from doing our most important job: protecting our kids.

    Everyone at this site surely agrees with me, why would we be here otherwise? You & I, WE ARE the parents who do anything and everything for our children ❤️

  6. I can’t even imagine how stressed the posters daughter must feel, my heart hurts for her. I can relate to what the dad and daughter go through and I wouldn’t even consider bringing back the sister after 2 inconsiderate incidents in my home causing my child to regress. I guess I might take her kids if they’ll really be homeless but something tells me it’s enabling the sister to not work. The sister should cram herself in the moms house and they can cook their pasta there. What they are doing to this daughters emotions is heartless and writing them off is well justified. Show your daughter how important she is and stand your ground. Food wants should never come before someone’s safety!

  7. I agree completely with the dad’s actions. His sister and mother are selfish to the point of evil to disregard/disbelieve his daughter’s allergies. They should never allowed in the home again.

  8. I feel strongly he was justified. NTA. This is the classic situation where family members just don’t get the severity and complexity of living with a sever food allergy. The non-allergy sufferers do not get how vulnerable the allergy sufferer is and how bad it can get for the allergy sufferer.

    Was it the best course of action? Probably not. But reading about how hard it has been to treat and stabilize the girl and how hard it is to keep her that way, I probably would have reacted in the same way. I unfortunately do not enjoy the closest relationship to my family (mother, brother, and sister) because I have multiple food allergies and to this day I cannot be around them without being exposed to my allergy, triggers, getting sick and having a ton of anxiety about the situation. Which is why I get this man, father, husband. I will read the other comments to see if someone comes up with a more diplomatic and civil response but if I were in his shoes my reaction could have been similar.

  9. I believe that your child’s health and safety comes first. If anyone doesn’t respect the rules and reasons, they don’t need to live with you. They should make other living arrangements if they aren’t willing to live by your rules. I can relate because I have multiple food allergies and a few family members don’t understand why I won’t eat their homemade treats because their house is not allergy friendly and their house is not very clean (they have two cats that are allowed to walk on the kitchen cabinets and I am allergic to cat dander). My sister in law made me an apple pie at the holidays last year and I didn’t eat it. My sister in law was upset that I didn’t eat one piece. It would have been better if she had given me the recipe where I could make sure I could use safe ingredients. I don’t even want peanuts in the house and my sister in law wanted to bring her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but she forgot them at their house (I was happy about that). It frustrates me that some family members try to push boundaries. My sister in law also thinks my food allergies were caused by all of the vaccines I got over the years.

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