Life Advice



Ask Amy: Stepmother’s generous cooking leaves out the ‘love’

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My stepdaughter, “Serena,” and her husband, “Ned,” have two small children, ages 2 and 4. They also both have demanding, stressful jobs.

During the pandemic, in order to help out, I offered to cook dinner four nights a week for her family.

Serena very much appreciates my help and almost always enjoys what I cook—soup, chili, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, stews, chicken enchiladas, and the like. All dishes that transport easily.

The problem is that Ned does not like onions. I put onions in almost every entrée I prepare!

His mother apparently catered to this aversion and never used onions in her cooking. Of course, I could leave out the onions in the portions I give her family, but Sarah wouldn’t find the dishes so palatable.

In addition, their two children might develop the same aversion, so omitting onions would only perpetuate the problem.


Also, to me, leaving out onions deprives this family of the opportunity to try new tastes.

Do you have any words of wisdom?

– Bay Area Stepmom Cook

Dear Cook: My basic reaction is – if this is you “helping out,” then I wonder what service you would perform if you were deliberately trying to disrespect someone.


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