Dear Ann Landers: I’m 21 years old and have an older sister who is divorced and has two young children, ages 6 and 4. I read your column daily and know you don’t approve of folks butting into other people’s business, but I need your opinion on a tactic my sister uses to make her kids eat.
At mealtime, “Dora” makes them sit at the table until they clean their plates. They have been known to sit there for three hours. If they must go somewhere and the kids haven’t finished eating, Dora wraps up their food and keeps giving it to them at every meal until it is finished. The children no longer have any contact with their father, so he has no input.
They recently visited my parents’ home. At the first dinner, Dora gave her son food that he had said he didn’t like the day before. She told him if he didn’t eat it, he would see it again tomorrow. I can still see my nephew’s face as he gagged on those creamed carrots. I have refrained from saying anything to my sister because I know she would resent it, so I mentioned it to my mother. Mom said, “That’s how Dora was raised, so that’s all she knows.” Well, I was raised that way, too, but I would never do that to my children.
I hope you will print my letter and give me your views. Those kids need help. - An Aunt in Greenfield, Mass.
Dear Aunt: Forcing children to eat or punishing them if they don’t is never a good idea. It makes mealtime an unpleasant experience and can lead to stomach distress.
I hope your sister will talk to her pediatrician about this. I’m sure he (or she) can give this mom some badly needed guidance.
Dear Ann Landers: This problem of mine might seem inconsequential compared to others you receive, but it could mean my husband’s job.
“Doug” has a habit of turning off his alarm clock in the morning and going back to sleep for “just a few more minutes.” Of course, this makes him late for work, and I’m afraid his boss’ patience might wear out.
I’ve tried everything I can think of to make Doug get up. I’ve set my own alarm clock and gotten up with him, I’ve duct-taped the “on/off” switch on his clock so he must use the snooze button instead, and even tried letting him suffer the consequences of getting up late. That hasn’t worked either.
Doug has already lost his commuting partner, and I’m afraid he’s going to lose his job if he continues to punch in late. Any suggestions? I’ll try anything. - At Wit’s End in Indiana
Dear Indiana: There are several things you might try. First, get Doug to bed a half-hour earlier, if possible. Another suggestion came from one of my readers - put a glass of orange juice in his hand the minute he wakes up. This will get his blood sugar up, and he’ll have more energy.
The last resort is to get up with him and read aloud a few paragraphs from the financial pages about downsizing, job losses, plant closings, etc. Apparently, he doesn’t take seriously what his tardiness might mean in terms of joining the ever-growing list of the unemployed.
Gem of the Day: There are two categories of people who never will amount to much. Those who cannot do what they are told, and those who can do nothing else.