Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Daughter's 5 A.M. Dinner Shocks Dad

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm shaking my head at my wife because she allows our children to eat dinner at any time of the day. I woke up this morning at 5 a.m., and I heard someone in the kitchen. To my surprise, I found my 9-year-old daughter warming up last night's dinner. I asked her why she was eating such a heavy meal at this time of day. My daughter's response was, "Mom gave me permission."

My wife is setting a bad precedent for our children, and she needs to stop this behavior. How do I address my concerns to my wife about her allowing the children to eat at any time of the day? -- Shaking My Head, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR SHAKING MY HEAD: Pick a time when you and your wife are alone. Let her know that you want to have a meeting to talk about the family. Then, tell her specifically why you are concerned about the children's eating habits. Describe to her what happened with your daughter. Suggest that the two of you work together to design more healthy eating habits for the children and yourselves.

If you are not currently participating in the food shopping or preparation, you may need to start. To recast the way that you feed your family will take focus, time and effort. You will need to be examples for your children. I do not recommend that you simply scold your wife and then expect her to make a shift. This family initiative requires teamwork. You may also want to get your children physically active. Check out Michelle Obama's healthy living program, Let's Move, at letsmove.gov to get some ideas.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother and younger sister lost their individual battles with cancer within a year of each other. Losing my mother and sister in such a short time has drained me. I have not properly mourned their passing. In addition, I took my oldest sister to the hospital earlier this week to have the doctors remove the cancerous tumor that's in her chest. I'm thankful that my doctors gave me a clean bill of health, but I am so tired. Do you have any words of encouragement during this tough time in my life. -- Distraught, Salt Lake City

DEAR DISTRAUGHT: I am so sorry for the tragedy that has befallen your family. Cancer is a horrible disease that is taking too many of our loved ones. When they go in such close proximity, it can be hard to feel strong enough to hold on.

This is where faith comes in. When the pain of loss seems too great, you need to ask God to help you. However you worship, this is your time to call upon that higher power to give you strength and see you through.

You can also go to a grief counselor at your house of worship or ask your doctor for a referral. It is wise that you are reaching out. Get support now so that you do not have to experience your grief in isolation.