At a time when most of the Western world is battling childhood obesity, Italy is up against a different kind of dietary dilemma. A proposed law would ban parents from raising vegan children.
Parents could be seen as negligent if they serve kids under the age of 16 a diet "devoid of elements essential for healthy and balanced growth.” This would seem to include veganism, with its omission of dairy and meat.
While it seems extreme that the courts should stick their noses in the plates of modern families, the country's move is driven by some very sad, very real cases in which children were left malnourished at the hands of their loving, well-intentioned parents.
In Milan, a one year-old weighed as little as a three month-old baby, while a 12 year-old boy's growth was similarly stunted, purportedly from following a vegan diet.
“I have nothing against vegans or veganism as long as it is a free choice by adults,” Italian lawmaker Elvira Savino. “I just find it absurd that some parents are allowed to impose their will on children in an almost fanatical, religious way, often without proper scientific knowledge or medical consultation.”
If the bill passes, the penalty for vegan parents could be stiff - as in, jail terms of one year - or up to seven years for death owing to malnutrition.
The idea of the state being able to dictate what your kid does or doesn't eat makes me squirm. But the fact that such legislation is even on the table points to the fact that many parents out there unwittingly endanger their kids' health - sometimes with tragic, irreversible results.
We all want what's best for our kids, yet the reality is, we don't always get it right.
Veganism is a tricky one, because for many the diet involves far more than food; it's a lifestyle dictated by ethics and core beliefs. To serve your children what you yourself wouldn't eat may be a tall order for parents.
Point being, though, if you're determined that your family follows any kind of alternative lifestyle, it probably makes sense to at least check in and listen to the guidance of a qualified doctor or nutritionist.
If you've ever had a child who got really attached to a particular toy or piece of clothing, then you'll sympathize with this mom. Deborah Skouson was in a bind.
Her autistic daughter, Cami, would only wear a particular top with flowers on it. Trouble is, the cute top from Target had long been discontinued.
Desperate times, desperate measures. Skouson posted a call to action on Facebook, and rallied her 500 or so friends and their friends to see if anyone out there had Cami's beloved flower top.
"For the past 4 to 5 years, she has been fixated on THIS shirt," wrote Skouson on her Facebook page. "She got her first one in kindergarten five years ago, and we have found four more since then, mostly on eBay. Her current one is almost unwearable, and eBay has gone dry. "
Skouson didn't care too much about the size; she offered to pay for the top and shipping. She just needed more stock - and fast.
Facebook more than delivered. The story went viral, with Cami receiving 80 identical tops from all over the world.
I can see some of you thinking, that's extreme. Maybe mom shouldn't cater to her daughter's every whim. Cami should just be flexible and wear other things.
But that's the thing about autism: kids on the spectrum tend to be way more rigid than typical kids. They will often only eat certain foods or wear certain clothes - sometimes for reasons unknown. Could be a sensory issue or a particular attachment that evades our understanding.
So allowing Cami to wear this top over and over doesn't make her spoiled or entitled. In her own time, with support, she will no doubt wear other clothes.
In the meantime, keep smiling and keep rocking that pink flowered top every single day, girl!
The U.S. President's eldest daughter Malia Obama is 18, and as far as tabloids are concerned, she's now "fair game."
Malia was the subject of media scrutiny after a gossip site spied her dancing and smoking what appeared to be cannabis at Chicago's famous music festival, Lollapalooza.
Imagine that. An 18 year-old experimenting with marijuana - decriminalized in Illinois, we might add - at a gig. You'd think she was a teenager or something.
It's bad enough Malia and her sister Sasha, 15, had to grow up under the public eye, they had to do so during the most tumultuous years of any childhood - puberty and adolescence.
Having a dad who's head of state can't be easy. And frankly, Malia and other presidential kids deserve a bit of slack and a whole lot of privacy. I suppose the Obama girls are considered role models for many young Americans. But is it fair to hold them to some impeccable moral standard because of their dad's job?
And anyway, it's not like Malia exactly went off the rails, is it? She's not pictured off her rocker in some crack house. She's taking a toke at a festival. Hardly what you'd call a hell-raiser. Some perspective is required of all the ready stone throwers out there.
Malia Obama is just a teenager let her live!! stop putting so much pressure on her just because she's the president's daughter !— emily (@haIseyhoran) August 11, 2016
And if you really want to talk rebellion, I once dated a minister's son!
Even Sasha's summer job (serving seafood, purportedly) generated media interest. Why is beyond me.
Remember the furor over the Bush (W) girls? They liked to party, too. Show me an 18 year-old - yes, even one of Republican descent - who doesn't.
As my editor puts it, being a teenager "is a bipartisan deal."