There are no handouts in life.
But if a generous person helps provide for your family with food, you shouldn't bite the hand that feeds you.
A mother with the Redditor handle "Anon-10-" cooked an extra helping of food to help out her neighbor who was struggling with being a mom and working late night shifts.
That generosity was taken for granted and more meals were provided.
Anon-10- was preparing vegetarian meals to accommodate her own daughter's recently discovered meat allergy. That meant the neighbor's kids were also adapting to the new menu, which didn't sit right with their mother.
The Original Poster (OP) discussed the resulting fallout from the neighbor—who accused her of converting her kids to vegetarianism—and asked AITA (Am I the A**hole) for no longer providing free hot meals for them.
"When my [I'm a 30 year-old female] husband and I got our first house I became friendly with our neighbour who had two young children, 2 & 3 (they're now 7 & 8)"
"Early on I noticed she was stressed, she was working from early to late (I had noticed she was getting home at like 10pm-11pm).
A gesture of goodwill turned into a regular occurrence.
"I started to 'accidentally' cook extra, I'd bring over Sheppard pies, meat pies, fish pie etc, I'd 'accidentally' have too many steaks or food that was about to go off and this led to the children just having dinner at ours."
But the discovery of a meat allergy led to an overhaul of the menu.
"We recently discovered our daughter (3F) has a meat allergy so everything has been swapped to a veggie option, me and my partner have decided it will make life a whole lot easier to make the switch with her - to put it bluntly, I'm not cooking two meals."
"We usually avoid soya and just do vegetables, vegetable lasagne, mushroom burgers etc, broccoli and kale mac n cheese."
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Unfortunately, the change in the meal plan prompted the entitled neighbor to reveal her true colors.
"Well neighbour decided to complain that I was trying to 'convert' her children who now refuse to eat food she cooks."
"So, I've stopped cooking for her."
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"She apologized and has asked me to cook but she's never appreciated what I've done for her and complaining has just pushed it all over the edge."
"My husband thinks I'm being an AH and that she was just being a concerned parent and clearly feels bad about accepting my charity."
Redditors easily declared the mama chef was NTA (Not the A**hole).
"So NTA... 'beggars can't be choosers'. I mean, she doesn't beg.. you've been extremely charitable and she's grown accustomed to it."
"She has ZERO right to say anything about what you cook. I think it's good that you stopped cooking." – burning-the-hive
"Agree. Whenever someone cooks for me, I give him/her a heartfelt thank you in his/her face."
"I am an abhorrent chef but I know he/she puts heart into the menu. That alone is worth the appreciation no matter the taste the food is." – junkcrapdoll
"NTA indeed. Neighbor should be grateful for all those 'accidental' meals, don't bite the hand who feeds you."
"OP don't waste more time or money on someone who doesn't appreciate your efforts." – Darksideswife
There was some confusion as to why the neighbor thinks the OP is trying to convert her kids to vegetarianism.
Redditor "rias_m" put it best.
"OP is cooking only vegetarian meals. The neighbor isn't."
"The kids are eating OP's food, but not the neighbor's."
"The neighbor is assuming that OP is 'brainwashing' her kids and that's why they're not eating her food."
"I think it was that the kids eat OP's food, but not their mother's when she cooked. Like, the mom thought OP was trying to convert her children to vegetarianism and complained." – KrissyBean
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Unfortunately, the neighbor's kids are getting the short end of the celery stick.
"NTA but in this case the kids are being punished. I'd keep hosting the kids for dinner - they have nothing to do with their mum's behavior."
"I'd talk to the neighbor though, and tell her straight that she's being rude and ungrateful." – leylapeaceee
"Clearly these children are not getting enough to eat at home. How is that their fault?"
"I doubt they asked to born into poverty. Unless the kids were also sh**ty to OP I think that OP should still feed them. Children shouldn't be punished for their parent's actions."
"I think that at the very worst, OP should call social services so that they can go to a home with enough food for them in the first place." – WitchfulThinker
Concerned Redditors offered solutions so that the children are no longer being deprived.
"I agree NTA and of course you're not obligated to cook for your neighbour. You were extremely kind and tactful the way you provided food for them."
"I would say though it's not her children's fault how their mum reacted. If it wasn't for the mums comments would you be continuing feeding them?" – Ashavara
"Many children suffer for their parents transgressions. It seems the mom may be regretful of her words."
"If it were me, with the limited knowledge I have of the situation, I'd talk to the mom at more length and come to an understanding."
"Suggest a barter that can happen when the quarantine is over. That's a good way to understand the next door neighbor's character a little more."
"If she follows through with her end of the barter, she's good neighbor to be 'in kahoots' with. If not, then she's not."
"I would definitely try to figure out some way her kids kept getting fed, by me, other neighborhood resources, etc. But it's not me, and I have limited knowledge. I really hope it all works out for everyone." – emveetu
What's missing here is gratitude.
"NTA... you fed her children for 5 years. She needs to get a grip."
"These children wouldn't starve otherwise, right? She was more pressed for time and juggling tasks like a single mom does? Gratitude for help is great, but after 5 years it looks like she felt entitled to the help which is a no no."
"It's fine to end the gravy train since you're legitimately changing your diet and that doesn't work for her. She can now take over cooking 100%."
The same user also called out the husband for calling his wife TA (the a**hole) in the situation.
"Edit to add... your husband doesn't get to decide if YOU cook for others. If he wants to supply her with food then he can pay for and cook it himself. No volunteering your spouse's time, effort or energy on their behalf. Especially to ungrateful people." – brainybrink
"I hate sh*t like this. Somebody makes you a beautiful meal and you won't eat it because x,y,z. Like how first world privileged are you that you can reject perfectly cooked food?"
"As a Chef I deeply despise people who do not appreciate the effort, time, and expense it takes to make food." – therearenoaccidents
"Behavior like OPs neighbor is why I understand why people just don't want to do nice things for others. I know appreciative people are out there but I feel they are far outnumbered by the 'give an inch, they'll take a mile' types."
"People who EXPECT others to take care of them without bothering to see what small thing they can do to take care of you in return but still expect the comfort of community. Not how it works at all, sis."
"If spouse thinks you're the AH, they can fill right in instead and see for their experience how that's gonna crash and burn. Your boundaries must be respected. Also NTA." – kgirl21
This is how a Redditor put the kibosh on a similar experience after being taken advantage of.
"NTA. You were extremely kind and for many years on top of it! Did she ever once cook anything for your kids? Did she ever say thank you??"
"Her complaining would definitely end kindness for me! She came basically dependent upon you cooking her children dinner which is absurd!! "
"I''m 41 I raise three children all by myself not once did I ever have anyone come cook my kids meals but I definitely had other children over that would try to eat me out of house and home."
"I sent a really rude 7 yr old home and her mom sent her back! I sent her back again, and again she was told by her mother it was ok for her to come over!"
"I ended that very quickly. OP you can only be kind to a point, then you just become taken advantage of. Her asking you to cook AFTER she complained shows how much she expects you for years now., to basically take care of her kids."
"Your husband doesn't understand that apparently, she's a choosing Beggar. Time to just feed your own family and let her take care of her own!" – Dreamcatcher312
This could be a nice way for the children to continue interacting.
Their friendship shouldn't have to suffer at the hands of quarreling adults.
"If you're able to help out those kids it would be very kind of you to continue doing so, they didn't ask their mom to be an AH."
"Also they're far too young to realize why they're no longer hanging out at the nice neighbor's house, so if you can't continue helping them, it would be nice for those kids to know you still care about them (I mean after feeding them for 5 years, I'm sure you do) and maybe find a way they can come over for other things, like afternoon snack or something on the weekend."
"I'm sure they miss you and your family." – design_dork
Hopefully, the neighbors can sort out their grievances. We already have enough on our plate.