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DINNER FEEDS THE SOUL

Dear Ann Landers: For several years, intensive research and teen surveys have consistently revealed that the more often children eat dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs.

To remind parents of the importance of family dinners, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse is launching an annual event called "Family Day -- A Day to Eat Dinner With Your Children." The event will take place on the fourth Monday in September. This year, the date is Sept. 24.

Our goal is to create a symbolic day to highlight the importance of parental involvement and encourage Americans to make family dinners a regular feature of their lives.

"Parent Power" is the most potent and underutilized tool to prevent teen substance abuse. Family dinners are a great way to put "Parent Power" to work to keep our children drug-free.

-- Joseph A. Califano Jr., President, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University
Dear Joe: What a wonderful idea. The key to helping our children grow up drug-free is communication, and the kitchen table provides the ideal environment. Families should have dinner together as often as possible.

I hope every family in America will be sure to schedule dinner together on Monday. It doesn't have to be a gourmet meal. Take-out pizza will do. The point is to spend time with your children, talking about their day and yours, finding ways to work through problems and letting your children know you are available. I grew up in a family that had dinners together. We ate in the kitchen, and no subject was off-limits. It was wonderful.

Selfishness appears

Dear Ann Landers: I have been married to the same woman for 30 years, but it wasn't until recently that I realized how deep-seated her selfishness is.

I have been in and out of work several times over the past few years and am now at the end of my line of credit. My wife, on the other hand, has a job that pays very well, but she refuses to help me out financially. She says she has no intention of "supporting" me. Ann, I have supported her for most of our marriage. Not only that, but I have given her many expensive birthday and anniversary gifts. For my birthday, she buys me cheap ties.

I still love her. After all, she is the mother of my children. However, I don't know that I want to spend the rest of my life with a woman who is so petty and ungenerous. I thought marriage was a partnership, but it seems my wife thinks differently. Do you have any advice for me?

-- Feeling Abused in Cincinnati
Dear Cincinnati: It seems strange that your wife is so unwilling to help you. Do you manage your money poorly? Are you out of work so often that she feels insecure? You need to get a job, any job, and the sooner the better. I also suggest joint counseling. It sounds as if your wife has some major complaints.

Invite oversight

Dear Ann Landers: Recently, my wife and I received an invitation to the wedding of a friend. Our daughter, "Alice," however, was not mentioned in the invitation. She is 35 years old and lives by herself. We have not told Alice about the invitation because she would be hurt if she knew she wasn't invited. Would it be proper to approach our friends and ask if it was an oversight?

-- Perplexed in Ohio
Dear Perplexed: Please don't embarrass yourself or the hostess by trying to get your daughter invited. I'm sure Alice would be humiliated if she knew you succeeded in "elbowing" her in. Spare her.

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