The story of the future mother-in-law, Carolyn Bourne, and her email to her potential daughter in law, Heidi Withers, has ‘gone viral’ as the saying goes.
Heidi went to stay with her fiance’s step-parents and apparently disgraced herself while there – lying in bed in the mornings, saying what she would and would not eat, helping herself to more without being asked, and complaining that she did not have enough on her plate.
So Carolyn told her what she thought of her bad manners in an email. Heidi passed it on … and on …. and on.
So is Carolyn to be the ‘mother in law from hell’, the fulfilment of all those jokes about mothers in law which are now considered non-pc? And where does this leave Heidi? And what sort of relationship between them is going to be possible, assuming that she goes ahead and marries Freddie?
There’s no doubt that manners have changed in the last 40 years. Behaviour which we took for granted when I was in my 20s and 30s is no longer the norm, and sometimes it takes a bit of getting used to. Hub and I discuss it every so often, coming to the conclusion that, just because we behaved in such a way ‘when we were young’, does not make it mandatory on the next generation.
The next question is, then what are acceptable manners? I suspect this would have as many answers as there are people, especially in our current society where there are no clear agreements on what is right and wrong. I, for example, don’t mind if my ‘guests’ get up late – I’m not a morning person myself! But I do mind if they sit around all the time, expect to have all their own way and don’t give a hand with the washing up.
Maybe thinking in terms of manners isn’t all that important. What really matters is consideration and kindness for others. If we’re looking out for each other and take into account the feelings of others, then that will govern our behaviour, and will make us very much more pleasant guests in someone else’s home.