Ask Denise: Son’s friend is rude about food

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Editor’s note: Writer’s answers do not reflect those of the Mitchell News-Journal and are not meant to replace medical or mental health care.


Dear Denise: I have two sons, ages 13 and 15. They have friends over sometimes, and we enjoy allowing them to do that. 

There is one boy, however, who comes over quite often with whom we are having issues. He is polite, friendly and respectful, so we have no complaints about that, but he is rude when it comes to food. If I have a plate of snacks out, he will grab almost all of them. If he stays for dinner, he will load up his plate without waiting to see if others have any. 

I don’t want to ban him from coming over, from what I hear he has an awful home life. But his appetite is overwhelming us. What should I do?

Dear Reader: Unfortunately, we don’t know what is really going on with this child.  It could be his age – they tend to be ravenous – or maybe you are right about his home life. Maybe there isn’t adequate food at home. Maybe in his home it is “every man for himself.” Maybe he is getting emotional comfort from the food offered at your home. You will never know until you sit him down and have a conversation.  

It would be best if the next time the boys are all together, getting this young gentleman to the side and trying to analyze what is going on. Be careful not to come across as judgmental or accusing, but rather that you care about him and are concerned. If you discover he is cared for at home, and these behaviors are not related to deprivation, perhaps you can gently educate him on appropriate social etiquette. I would not advise banning him from your home if at all possible, it sounds as though you could be a very positive factor in his life. 


Dear Denise: My husband I have a 2-year-old daughter. My mother-in-law has always been super-involved in our lives, even more so when we had our baby. It seems to be getting out of hand. She is obsessed with our daughter, having to see her daily, contradicting my parenting choices, basically wrapping her whole life around the child. 

Her marriage is not good, and I feel she is coping with that by putting everything on my child. But it is smothering. She tends to be very dramatic, and the last couple times I have tried to talk to her about this, there was a ton of drama. Crying, getting sick to her stomach, even hinting at suicide. I feel stuck.

Dear Reader: I think it is very astute of you to recognize your mother-in-law’s attention to your child has gone beyond a healthy, loving relationship. I also find it significant you have noted she is overcompensating for her marriage by diverting all of her affections onto your child. By reacting dramatically when you try to address this with her, she is basically holding you emotionally hostage.  

My advice is to enlist the aid of your husband, and both of you address it with her. If she reacts dramatically, do not allow that to divert you from the message you are trying to communicate. Be consistent, do not allow her to manipulate you any longer. This can only get worse if it continues.


Denise Harrison is a Licensed Counselor. Send questions to or call and leave a message at 828-467-0037. Submissions are anonymous.

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