Ask Amy: How can I tell my mother-in-law that her food is making us all sick?

The problem is that this woman can’t cook and she has no interest in learning.

There are family members (including my husband) who become physically ill after eating one of his meals! I tried to bring a side dish, but she takes offense. A cookbook given to him gathers dust. She refuses to help him in the kitchen.

The poultry and other meat she serves is charred on the outside and raw on the inside. Nothing she serves has flavor, and she doesn’t understand why people eat small portions of food and why no one wants leftovers.

Going to a restaurant is a nightmare because she complains about everything she orders and sends it back. She sees nothing wrong with her lack of cooking skills!

I won’t invite her to dinner because she claims to have food allergies and other illnesses that have never been medically diagnosed.

Amy, how do we tell this woman that her cooking is making us sick without offending her?

Hunger: Whatever the message delivered, I suggest that you are not the person to do it. You’re justifiably proud of your culinary tradition, but you’re dealing with someone who didn’t grow up in that same tradition and obviously won’t embrace it.

Your mother-in-law sees nothing wrong with her lack of cooking skills, as she has no cooking skills and doesn’t seem to want to learn them.

Food seems to be an extremely big sticking point for both of you.

No one should eat foods that are obviously unsafe to eat, and if the meat is undercooked, you should avoid it. Your husband (not you) should ask his mom, “Mom, can you cook this longer?” I’m not sure it’s well cooked.

You could work on becoming more tolerant.

The idea is that you demonstrate that you can create in your home the generous, loving, hospitable and lively culinary tradition that you grew up with.

Invite your mother-in-law to your home for meals and let her know that if she’s nervous about eating your food, she can bring her own, but you’ll always save a spot for her, because as you know — love and kinship around the table are the most important ingredients of all.

dear Amy: I have 40 years of AA sobriety and meeting experience. I recently asked a church in my hometown for permission to hold meetings there. I was sent a letter stating that there were no rooms available.

I know that’s a lie because they just expanded the church two years ago.

I feel discriminated against and like a bad person sitting in the parking lot. I know I can’t change their decision, but why would a church say no to people who make up 15% of their congregation?

Other churches in my town hold AA meetings, so why not this one?

While searching: You seem to make a lot of assumptions about the availability surrounding this particular space, as well as the motivations of the people who turned you down.

Church boards typically review requests for space, and their denial may be due to a booking dispute with another organization, or because they cannot afford the cost of utilities and staff needed to keep the building open and heated outside opening hours.

Accusing them of lying is reckless and mean. Fortunately, there are options for meetings in other local spaces, as well as online (

dear Amy: Your recent letter from “dad in distress” really made my blood boil. Her 20-year-old daughter lied saying she had been vaccinated against coronavirus, when she had not.

I don’t always agree with you, but I appreciated your answer here, asking this father to put his daughter’s risk-taking into perspective.

When I thought about it, I realized that my own children had often behaved the same way at that age.

Survivor: As a parent, I have been there — several times.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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