Seriously?

Let me begin by trying to set the stage… At least as I imagine it. Apparently, Mr. Bourne (Freddie) brings his fiancée Ms. Withers (29-year-old Heidi) home for the weekend. I wouldn’t imagine this is her first meeting-of-the-parents, but I guess it could be.

Anyway, while there Heidi apparently ruffles some feathers. At least those of her future mother-in-law. SO much so in fact, that after the visit her MIL (Carolyn Bourne) sends Heidi the following email:

“It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.

Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.

If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around.

Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.

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. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else.

You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.

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.

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.

You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed.

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.

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.)

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.”

QUITE the dressing down, wouldn’t you say!! On first read, I was appalled! I really think I would absolutely cringe, probably cry and then get REALLY angry if my MIL ever sent me something like this. Thankfully, I have a wonderful mother-in-law so that’s never anything I’ll have to worry about.

But, SERIOUSLY!!?

I started thinking:

Beside the point that all of this SHOULD have been said with much more consideration and decorum, and beside the point that it should have been said face-to-face rather than in an email, there is a part of me that wonders if perhaps Heidi’s behavior might have warranted it?

Of course it’s all speculation, but in Carolyn Bourne’s list of examples of Heidi’s lack of good manners, are there some problems? Should Heidi have been more considerate?

1) 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. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else. This just seems like good sense! I would NEVER go around declaring what I would and wouldn’t eat. …However, the fact that Carolyn calls Heidi a “guest” rather than including her as “family” may be the bigger problem here.

2) 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. Seems like a given… Whether family or not, you do tend to “fall in line to house norms” (although that’s a harsh way to put it–like she’s speaking to a child!)–so that the day can be planned.

3) You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. DUH! At least until you get to know them and know whether they’re given to that sort of playfulness. Which *clearly* this one is NOT (at least, Carolyn isn’t!).

However, the rest of her email is very harsh and insulting:

It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you. Oh wow! This is SO condescending!!

If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around. This is such an ultimatum… Like, IF YOU DON’T, YOU WON’T BE PART OF THIS FAMILY! Really!? 

Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible. Another condescending statement, veiled in a “for your own good, I’m-just-looking-out-for-you” plea.

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 SO horrible and so hurtful! Just don’t bring it up… I would assume her parents are dealing with this–hopefully! 

Another point of issue: I sure hope Freddie knows about this and is working to help with the situation. It’s his job to help facilitate the relationship between  Carolyn and his future wife.

There are ALL kinds of comments from readers (on both sides of this issue). I’d love to know what you think. Leave your comments below.

You can read more of what’s going here. And by the way, the email from Carolyn Bourne has gone viral! Heidi got mad and forwarded it on to all of their friends, who sent it to all of their friends… etc.


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