Carolyn Bourne sparked several weeks of heated debates in the United Kingdom, over her widely published criticisms of future daughter in law Heidi Withers. The Daily Telegraph has published almost daily on the story, which first came to my attention in London on June 30, 2011.
A synopsis of the situation can be read by accessing the Daily Mail’s recent article:www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2010314.
Mrs. Bourne, step-mother to the groom to be, Freddie Bourne, sent an email to his fiancée
complaining about of her lack of manners. The list of complaints included transgressions against typical manners when staying at someone’s home, such as table manners, and following the general activities of the household. However, Mrs. Bourne also criticized Ms. Withers’ personality and the couples’ decisions regarding their wedding plans. Apparently Mrs. Bourne did not consider the possible consequences of communicating her complaints–nevermind the implications of sending them to her via email.
After Ms. Wither’s received the email, she forwarded them to some friends, and then the email went viral on the web. As a result of the family’s conflict being publicized, comments from the greater public has focused on taking the side of either the dumped on young daughter in law (who has not commented publicly on the situation), or “Miss Fancy Pants” the spokesperson for proper manners and social graces in England today.
On a deeper level, however, the family conflict illustrates a deeper divide in family values. One generation appears to favour proper manners and social appearance, while the younger generation may favour their individuality and authenticity. I can only guess as to Freddie Bourne and Heidi Withers’ values, as they have not commented in the press on their point of view in the conflict.
In most family conflicts, the event that sparks the explosion of anger and upset is usually a symptom of greater and deeper divide or a history of hurts that have gone unspoken and unhealed.
No one knows yet, how this story will end. Will the wedding go ahead? Will the groom’s father and step-mother be invited (and attend) the wedding?
Although my curiosity is certainly peaked–along with most of the UK, I hope that the family can put their conflicts to rest in private. If they are inclined to work on the problems, I suggest Mrs. Bourne pay for a Mediator to assist them–since she ignited the conflict, it would only be good manners to put some effort in to putting the fire out.