Dear Dr. Wallace:
I know I’m not alone with this: I like most vegetables, but there are a few I really don’t like. This especially includes peas. Every time my mother makes peas as one of the vegetables for our supper, my father insists I eat everything on my plate — including those beady little peas. Part of the reason for this is that I’m a vegetarian (which drives good old Dad nuts!), and he grants me leeway there. But I think that because of that, he really likes to hammer me to eat any and all vegetables at all times. So, when the vegetable is cauliflower, beets, zucchini, asparagus or even broccoli, I eat them all, but I totally gag on peas for some reason. I just don’t like those little buggers!
I was wondering if you think it’s fair that I have to eat everything on my plate? If you say I should, I guess I’ll stop complaining, hold my nose and try to choke down some peas. What’s your opinion on this particular issue?
— Can’t Stand Those Peas, Via Email
Dear Can’t Stand Peas: It surprises some readers to learn that this is actually a very popular and frequent topic with teenagers. I get all kinds of letters about foods and diets, and the majority do involve what to do when one or both parents want the teen to eat something the young person truly dislikes. Many times, parents introduce new foods to their children and automatically feel that since they like them, their children should like them, too. But everyone has his or her own palate! It’s OK to occasionally ask children and teens to try a new taste, but they should not force the children to finish something they truly don’t like. In that case, a parent risks instilling a lifelong hatred of certain foods. Eating should be pleasurable, social and nutritious — not emotionally painful. Rarely do adults eat foods they find distasteful; they usually only do so to impress a potential mate or to be socially accepted in a business situation, especially when it comes to international business.
I give your father credit for not forcing his own carnivorous ways upon you, but I disagree with his edict that you should eat every single vegetable, regardless of your preferences. The fact that you have this sole exception indicates to me that you are not playing any games and that you truly detest peas. Therefore, I will side with your end of the debate here.
The vast majority of parents would be thrilled if their teens ate all the wonderful vegetables with the sole exception of peas.
Dear Dr. Wallace: I recently read in a magazine that couples who live together before getting married have a higher divorce rate than couples who do not live together before saying, “I do!” The magazine didn’t give a specific reason or any hard-and-fast statistics, but they seemed pretty convinced in their take on this issue. Do you agree with this?
I would think that couples who live together before getting married would be better adjusted to each other and therefore have a lower divorce rate. It seems counterintuitive to think this drives up the divorce rates!
— Slightly Skeptical, via email
Dear Slightly Skeptical: I have read many studies on this topic over the years. Indeed, most research papers did reveal that the divorce rates are slightly higher among couples who lived together first. They revealed a reason, which was that the “live together first” couples found they couldn’t easily adjust to the total commitment of marriage after having hedged their bets with the partial commitment of their original arrangement.