There’s one thing that almost every child eagerly anticipates when their birthday rolls around—a scrumptious slice of cake. It’s a birthday tradition that’s been ingrained in American culture for generations. However, a 34-year-old stepmom named Lara recently faced backlash from Reddit users after she decided not to buy a birthday cake for her six-year-old stepdaughter, Gwen, on account of it being too “unhealthy.”
Feeling conflicted about her decision and wondering if she’d gone too far, Lara sought advice from the Reddit community. She explained that she wanted to encourage young Gwen to make better choices regarding her diet.
According to Lara, Gwen’s biological mother, who is her primary caregiver, lets the child consume all the junk food and high-fat items she desires. This situation greatly concerns the stepmom, as she believes that Gwen’s mother isn’t doing enough to ensure her daughter’s long-term health.
As a result, Lara opted for low-fat ice cream as an alternative to the traditional birthday cake, hoping to counterbalance the unhealthy food Gwen consumes while at her mother’s house. Lara shared her concerns, saying, “It makes me sad for this child and her health, so I try to teach Gwen about healthy eating and moving around during our weekends with her.”
Gwen lives predominantly with her biological mother and spends only every other weekend with her father, stepmother, and two stepbrothers. Lara stated, “We are a healthful household, and we teach moderation and controlling how much we take when we have treats.” She also mentioned that Gwen is about 20lb (9kg) heavier than an average six-year-old girl should be.
To encourage healthy eating habits, Lara often prompts her children, including Gwen, to consider healthier choices when they reach for a snack. On the weekend of Gwen’s birthday, which happened to be one of the days she was staying with her father and stepmother, Lara chose to serve low-fat ice cream instead of the much-anticipated cake.
Lara recounted the incident, “We were talking about what kind of cake to have when I asked Gwen about the healthier choice. My reasoning was that she gets all of that garbage at home, and it’s just not good for a growing girl.”
However, when Gwen’s mother discovered that her daughter hadn’t been given a birthday cake, she was outraged. The mother claimed that Gwen had cried because she wanted a cake but didn’t want to make a “bad choice.” She accused Lara of fat-shaming her daughter and demanded both an apology and a cake.
Lara defended her actions by saying, “I’m just looking out for a child in my care. I never said she couldn’t have cake—she should have told us she wanted one.”
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In a world where childhood obesity is becoming increasingly common, Lara’s story serves as a reminder to consider the impact of our food choices on children’s health. But at the same time, it raises questions about finding a balance between promoting healthy habits and preserving the joy and excitement of life’s special moments.