Ask Amy: Accommodating Child Guests

By Amy Dickinson | August 16th, 2021

A host tries to provide for the kiddos – but struggles with the unhealthy requests


Child guests love soda Image

Dear Amy: Next week my sister will be visiting, along with her adult son, his wife, and three children. They will be staying with us for almost a week.

As I plan the menu, I have asked if anyone has any allergies or dislikes, as well as a coffee preference.

My sister is coming two days before her son’s arrival (as they live in different parts of the country) and wants to help with the purchase of groceries.

She has a very detailed list of exactly what they eat when they are at home, including high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks for the oldest, who is 13 (who lives with them half the time and whose mother feeds him high-sugar food and drinks).

I certainly don’t want to put anyone on a diet during their vacation, but also don’t feel it is necessary to provide “Red Mountain Dew” to our child guests when we always have plenty of other beverages that are healthier and kid-friendly (Gatorade, for example). They also are requesting many other very specific items.

I want to be welcoming, have a great time, and make everyone happy, but is this a typical way to host a family?

We are accustomed to hosting families for cookouts and always provide a variety of healthy and typical summer fun food, so I think they may like our menu if they tried it.

What is your take?

– Humble Hostess


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Dear Hostess: As a kind and concerned host, you will do your best to feed your guests, balancing their preferences along with your own. This does not mean that you need to cater to their every request.

When children are present, yes, you will end up stocking some things you don’t normally consume. (I don’t usually eat popsicles, but I try to have them in the freezer when the kids visit.)

When children visit your home by themselves, you will control the menu, but when they visit along with their parents, their parents should take the lead when it comes to feeding them.

Your sister is arriving early, armed with her lengthy food list. You should let her handle and purchase whatever more exotic items are on the family’s list, including whatever atrocious drink the 13-year-old prefers. (Gatorade is not really a healthy substitute for Red Mountain Dew, by the way.)

If the children request something that you don’t have on hand, you can say, “Oh, we don’t normally eat Malted Chocolate Power Puffs for breakfast so I don’t have any in the house, but I can toast a mini-bagel for you.” If this becomes more of an issue, the parents and grandmother are on hand, and you can readily defer to them.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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