The mother finds her son's latest love interest "a wonderful woman: kind, hard-working, self-made." So far so good. In a letter to Philip Galanes at Social Qs she writes that she would be pleased if her son married her. The mother's only problem: the wonderful woman practices a dining custom of her culture where "people lick their knives during meals." Looking ahead, the mother who may be future mother-in-law to this "kind, hardworking" woman is worried that any children her son and this woman have will pick up the knife licking habit and that the extended family will hold her grandchildren up to ridicule. How should she broach the knife-licking habit with her possible daughter-in-law.
Knife licking may not be something any of us are faced with, but we all may have had concerns about an unfortunate habit--or culturally based idiosyncrasy--that we would like our daughter- or son-in-law or our child's life partner to curb. So what does Philip Galanes say we can do about such matters?
"If she and your son marry and produce offspring, you will be entitled to express grandparental concern about sharp objects in tiny mouths. But that's a problem for a far-off day. You've done very well to keep quiet about cutlery to date, and I encourage you to keep it up. A supportive mother-in-law trumps a Westernizing etiquette coach every day of the week."