DEAR AMY: I am grandmother to two boys, ages 1 and 3. My daughter, who is slightly overweight, feeds them foods high in sugar, i.e. donuts, pancakes with syrup, muffins, etc., for breakfast. She provides dessert after every meal. I have noticed that the boys are now requesting desserts, candy, etc., often during the day and while eating a meal. There is obesity in my and my son-in-law’s family. Is there anything I can do/say besides providing healthier choices when I am watching them? I watch them twice a week.
DEAR WORRIED: You and your daughter are part-time partners in raising these young boys, and if you work together, you can establish good eating habits and patterns that will have a healthy impact on the whole family. With the family history of obesity that you relate, these children are vulnerable.
You should be understanding, respectful, and frank with your daughter concerning what you are seeing when the boys are with you. There are easy ways to reset eating habits with young children, by offering them healthy snacks, foods like hummus and yogurt to dip and slurp, fruit for “dessert,” and by having them “help” at meal time.
It is never too early (or late) to introduce healthier practices at home, but remember to never criticize their mother’s choices while the children are at your home.
A book you should consider having in your kitchen is, “Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Parent’s Handbook: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating,” by Dr. Nimali Fernando and Melanie Potock (2015, The Experiment).
I am also a fan of The Berenstain Bears books. These fun, easy and colorful books gently convey important value-based lessons to children, and are perfect to share with a 3-year-old.
Your grandsons might enjoy “The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food,” by Stan and Jan Berenstain (1985, Random House). Look for it while you’re at your local library’s story time.
DEAR AMY: I am a graduate student and a founding member (as well as an officer) of an on-campus club dedicated to social justice and activism. This newly-formed club has earned us high praise and recognition by our department and by the neighboring community. I am happy to be a part of something bigger than myself. I am having serious issues with our club president’s superhero complex, however. She makes everything about her ego and control, under the guise of doing so for everyone else’s benefit. She shows little respect for the rest of us in the club, dominating conversations, ignoring other’s opinions, making decisions without putting it to a vote (which we agreed to do upon forming), and making us look foolish by undermining the rest of us publicly. This group is about more than just her, and so I think I need to leave. I believe that others will probably follow me. I thought we could do some good work together. I have spoken to others in the group and they all express feeling fed up. How can we change the direction of this group? Or is it not worth the effort, since our president does not care what we have to say, anyway?
No Time for Ego Trips
DEAR NO TIME: If you have a faculty adviser, this would be a good issue to run past that person. The first thing should be to make your voice heard within the organization, speaking out in a meeting and following up with specific concerns in writing, and asking for action.
If you can’t stage a semi-coup and legally force out this president, it might be best for you and your fellow activists to start a splinter group and strike out on your own. Consider it to be part of your learning experience, and redouble your effort to focus more clearly on your group’s stated mission. Your university should have guidelines concerning how to create organization bylaws. Moving forward, keep your bylaws simple and build in a clear chain of command, along with a specific term for officers, as well as an apparatus for discussing these challenges openly.
DEAR AMY: “Worried Stepmother” was upset about her stepdaughter’s student loan debt. In my own case, my student debt was held at a very low interest rate. It made sense for me to retire other debt first, and pay off my student loans at the lower and slower rate.
Out of Debt
DEAR OUT OF DEBT: This is a smart take on debt reduction. Thank you.