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by Abigail Van Buren

Eating Leftovers Becomes Bone of Contention at Family Dinners

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have three teenagers -- 18, 16 and 14. My wife cooks for them every day or buys them fast food. I always eat leftovers, which the fridge is full of. Our children refuse to eat leftovers or cook for themselves, and they insist on having a freshly cooked meal every day.

Occasionally, my wife needs to work late and asks me to buy fast food for the children. I respond that I'll gladly cook for them or buy them fast food, but first they have to finish the leftovers in the fridge. My wife gets upset and accuses me of not caring about our children. Who is right? -- LEFTOVERS IN THE EAST

DEAR LEFTOVERS: I have a news flash for you. At the ages of 18, 16 and 14, your kids are no longer children; they are teenagers approaching adulthood. Rather than act like pushovers, you and your wife should be teaching them how to cook -- a skill they'll need if they are going to live healthy lives in the future.

Yes, they should finish the leftovers. Leftovers are usually better the second time around because the flavors have had more time to meld. No, they shouldn't be having fast food instead. If you and your wife care about your progeny, start assigning each of them an evening in which they prepare at least one dish, while you make sure they know how to do it. Stop arguing and start parenting!

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Teens