Is This Mother-in-Law Evil?

Carolyn Bourne: Miss Fancy Pants or Normal Mom?

This post on Yahoo! really caught my eye:

“Mother-in-law sends worst email ever to bride: forgivable?”

I have a terrific mother-in-law, but I had to see what was the “worst email ever.”  I could almost hear myself cackling as I linked over.  As I culled through what has apparently become a viral Internet sensation, something odd struck me.  I think the mother-in-law, Carolyn Bourne, makes some great points.

One of the most troubling issues of today’s young women is a complete lack of decorum and respect, for others and for themselves.  Watching a young woman have sex with her college boyfriend on top of a building at USC was troubling. Learning that young girls would rather win “America’s Top Model” than the Nobel Prize was disheartening. Worse, finding out there are few, if any, female role models for our young girls is tragic. Heidi Withers’ behavior was uncouth, but look at the world she lives in, then tell me how our daughters will ever become empowered.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Withers’s dad is making it clear he doesn’t like the way his daughter was spoken to in the email and making excuses for her.

Below is the email.  I’ve added my two cents.  What do you think?

From: Carolyn Bourne
to: heidi withers
subject: your lack of manners

“If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family, I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. Here are a few examples of your lack of manners: Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:

When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something. – Totally agree. When someone invites you to dinner, you don’t tell the hosts that you won’t eat all or part of their food.

You do not remark that you do not have enough food. Nobody thinks this is rude? It’s dinner, eat what you get and go out later for a snack with your fiancé.

You do not start before everyone else. True, you don’t.  You wait until everyone is served.  Not only is it good manners, it’s common courtesy.

You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host. This one I had not heard. I would think if the food is on the table you can politely ask for something to be passed. No one likes to have to clean up leftovers, right? Too much additional work (pack up food, find room in the fridge, etc.)

When a guest in another’s house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms. I definitely do not agree with this:)  Vacation’s are for sleeping in and not for falling into social norms.

You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter. Ummm…no need for comment.  Insulting anyone in public, especially your family-to-be takes guts and a little too much alcohol.

You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why. No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour. Who wouldn’t love to get married in a castle, but Ms. Bourne is right again.  Especially given the next point:

I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters’ marriages.) This is rude. However…

If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes. THIS is what so many young people lack, perspective.  Living within one’s means is difficult, but not impossible.  So many people, young and old, believe that nothing should be out of reach, no matter what the cost.  Self-control should be learned and practiced.

One could be accused of thinking that Heidi Withers must be patting herself on the back for having caught a most eligible young man. I pity Freddie. Mean.  Perhaps she should have left this off, but clearly she felt her future daughter-in-law’s behavior was disrespectful and perhaps humiliation.

Carolyn Bourne has been labeled “Miss Fancy Pants” in the British press.  A generation ago, we respected our elders, today we make excuses for the current generations lack of manners.  I can’t wait to what kind of people the current generation raises.