Dear Liz,

Please help with a dietary dispute going on in our family. My husband and I grew up with traditional Southern/All-American diets. We raised our kids that way. But our daughter and son-in-law have been vegetarian for many years. And pretty much keep that diet with their kids (our grandkids). They do include fish, eggs and some dairy. Usually it’s no big issue. Until we had traditional hot dogs and hamburgers at our cookout. And we offered them hot dogs which they are. The kids (parents) are pretty mad at us. We think it’s silly — what is the big deal?

Family food feud

Dear “Family food feud,”

That can be a very “sticky” subject, indeed. It certainly can be a big deal. It is important to recognize that individuals choose to follow certain diets and lifestyle eating for health, moral and religious reasons. And that should be met with respect even if we don’t understand or even agree. As the mother and grandmother of not only vegetarian children and grandchildren, but have vegan (plant-based only) children and grandchildren including my 12-year-old Emerson who has chosen this lifestyle (going on a year and a half) through her own research study and discipline. I choose to honor this choice and support her by making sure she has vegan options at our house and when we go out to eat when they visit. Again, respect is at the forefront. The worst thing grandparents can do is ignore parents’ wishes when it come to diet (and other activities) or worse, “go behind the parents’ backs.“ Again, you don’t have to understand or agree with the reasoning behind it. It’s vital to demonstrate the importance of respect and even differences in opinion.

Parents need to fully trust the caregivers of their children — related and not. It is also confusing to the children, sending mixed messages as to who the kids should go along with without dishonesty. Thank you for a very important question. I think an apology for the hotdogs and reassurance to the parents and kids involved would be appropriate.

Dear Liz,

I discovered a lighter in my wife’s nightstand. She used to sneak cigarettes from time to time. Especially when she was mad at me. She promised to not do that anymore. But, there was that lighter. We have zero candles in the house for safety reasons with the kids. So — that can’t be the reason. I do not want to have to be a detective and sneak around. And if she is smoking I will be disappointed, but realize that I can’t control her choices — but would request that there be no smoking in the house and certainly not around the children. What’s the best way to handle this?


Dear “???,”

Good question and you are so right to not want to play detective and certainly not be parental in your martial relationship. Hiding smoking and doing it in retaliation for discord with you automatically puts you in a daddy role — with adolescent rebellious acting out behavior from your wife. Not healthy at all. The best way to handle this would be calm honesty. At a good time express your realizations and goals just as you did here. Set those requests as guidelines you’d appreciate. Period. Hopefully she’ll make healthy choices.

Contact Liz via Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health.