In-law gives new meaning to the expression ‘dig in’
DearAmy: My husband and I have been happily married for two years. His family has welcomed me with open arms, and I amgrateful for their kindness.
The problem ismy mother-in-law’s cooking. She does not wash her hands! I have caught her putting her fingers in food, licking her fingers and putting her fingers back in the same dish. During our Christmas visit, she and I went grocery shopping. We returned and prepared the leftovers. She “re-mashed” the potatoes with her bare hands— without ever washing her hands!
Amy, my husband and I are disgusted. Is there anyway to bring this to her attention without hurting her feelings? — Grossed Out
This is extremely unappetizing, not to mention unhealthy. If your motherin-lawhandled uncooked chicken or shellfish and then plunged her unwashed hands directly into a bowl of mashed potatoes, for instance, this could spread food-borne illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers recommendations for safe food handling practices— and washing utensils and hands are paramount ( www.cdc.gov).
Bringing this up shouldn’t cause conflict, though your mother-in-law might be a little stung. Try saying: “Mom, I’mvery concerned about hand washing in the kitchen and I notice you’re pretty casual about it. Can you help me out here? I feel like I can’t eat comfortably unless the cook washes her hands often.”
DearAmy: My son is going through an acrimonious divorce. There are two small grandsons involved. I amvery concerned about our losing access to them.
My daughter-in-lawcomes from a family where there have been several divorces and she is receiving counseling from them. We do not have that experience and have tended to be nice Catholic people, which does not help in this situation. You frequently suggest a book to assist with problems that people present to you. Do you have anything for totally clueless grandparents?— Susan
Being “nice Catholic people” qualifies youwell to deal with this challenging situation, despite your lack of experience with divorce. This challenge calls upon all of you to demonstrate your family values under duress. You and your husband should support your son in his efforts to be an involved and loving parent. There will be times when you will be frustrated or upset, but you should never bad-mouth their mother, and you should work hard to be tolerant, loving— and all about the kids, not the drama swirling about them. For inspiration, read “ The Essential Grandparent’s Guide to Divorce,” by Lillian Carson (1999, Health Communications).