Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Who Likes to Bake Lets Kids Eat All They Want

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my wife for four years, but we have been together for 11. She has three children whom I love and treat as my own. My problem is that my wife is a baker and lets the kids eat whatever, whenever, and as much as they want.

My older daughter has graduated from college, where she worked out regularly and lost weight. However, my son and younger daughter have ballooned to obese. I have tried to talk to my wife about instilling better eating habits, but it never materializes. Food with no nutritional value is consumed each school night, along with bowls of my wife's homemade ice cream. I know being obese will have lifelong consequences for them. How can I fix the problem and help them change how they eat? -- NEEDS GUIDANCE IN FLORIDA

DEAR NEEDS GUIDANCE: You're correct that childhood obesity can set the stage for lifelong health problems. I'm surprised your wife hasn't been told this by their doctor. If she thinks stuffing them with unhealthy food and failing to instill good eating habits is showing them "love," she's misguided.

If she is doing this because of some emotional need of her own, she may need both nutritional and emotional counseling to get past it. A step in the right direction would be for you to involve your kids in family time that includes exercise and encourage them to choose a sport that interests them and to pursue it. If you ask your older daughter, I'll bet she would be glad to support the idea.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety