In-law gives new mean­ing to the ex­pres­sion ‘dig in’

The Washington Post Sunday - - ADVICE & PUZZLES - by Amy Dick­in­son Write to Amy at askamy@tribune.com or at Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michi­gan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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).

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