DEAR ABBY: My wife is a vegetarian, but I am not. We agreed to raise our children as vegetarians until they could make that decision for themselves.
My children are now 6 and 10 and have indicated that they no longer want to be vegetarians. The older child is particularly frustrated that she's not allowed to eat such things as pasta sauce or soup that contains beef or chicken stock.
However, my wife is now reneging on our agreement. She says the kids aren't old enough to make such a decision, and she's refusing to set an age when they can do so.
I don't think we, as parents, should impose our preferences on our kids and deny them what they want. Am I wrong? -- MASSACHUSETTS CARNIVORE
DEAR CARNIVORE: Are you kidding? Parents impose their preferences on their children all the time, and for as long as they can.
Your wife may be right that the kids should refrain from eating meat and meat products, but she is being heavy-handed and going about it in the wrong way. Unless she is prepared to stand over them 24/7, there is no way she can prevent them from eating meat if they are determined to do so.
What she can do is make sure they understand why she is a staunch vegetarian and why she would prefer that they remain that way. But there's no guarantee that they will -- particularly if she permits this to become a power struggle.
DEAR ABBY: You have always encouraged your readers to stay informed and be prepared. That's why we are writing you on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Women's Health (OWH) and WomenHeart to share with you and your readers our new, free Heart Health Kit for women and their families.
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Abby, thank you for informing your readers about this serious issue, and please alert them to place their orders now because supplies are limited. -- KATHLEEN UHL, M.D., ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH, FDA; LISA TATE, CEO, NATIONAL COALITION FOR WOMEN WITH HEART DISEASE
DEAR KATHLEEN AND LISA: My readers' well-being is important to me, and I'm pleased to help get the word out.
In today's stressful environment, reliable health information is something we can never have too much of -- and in this case it is being offered absolutely free of charge. So when you order your Heart Health Kit, don't forget your mothers, sisters, aunts and close friends, and order one for them, too.
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What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)