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My in-laws' kids are picky brats, should I cater to them?

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The question

My husband and I are going to host his sister's family for the holidays. That includes three young kids (5, 7 and 9) who are picky eaters and cannot behave. My sister-in-law has informed me that they will only eat hot dogs, carrot sticks, peanut butter and toast, which even has to be arranged a certain way on the plate. Should I provide the exact food (and brands) that she's demanding? And do I have to child-proof our home?

The answer

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It sounds like the kids aren't the problem – the parents are. If they choose to cater to their delinquents' ridiculous meal preferences, it's their responsibility to do that, not yours.

But as you may know, principles have no place in the season of goodness and light. So buy them their white-bread groceries. As for the preparation, you should have no qualms asking the darling extendeds to pitch in.

Child-proofing: That's on you. While you don't have to lock your cabinets, do put your glass art, your throwing knives and, yes, even that "tastefully" erotic ornament collection out of reach (and maybe also out of sight). And bonus points if you can be genuinely nice about all this. The holidays may last just a day or two, but your in-laws are stuck with their spawn a full 365 days a year.

Follow food writer Chris Nuttall-Smith on Twitter: @cnutsmith. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail

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