DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been nagging my oldest son to focus on finding a wife instead of working so hard. He is almost 29! After a few persistent months of nudging on my end, he finally brought home a girl. I would normally be ready to pepper her with questions, but he brought his busty ex-girlfriend, much to everyone's surprise! At first I thought this was a joke to get back at me for how hard I've been pushing him, but my son says he thought of his ex and wanted to give her a call. When I first met this girl, years ago, she was visibly not wearing a bra, and she needed one! Not much has changed about her in those years. The way she presents herself is tacky with her makeup and clothing. She makes sure her chest gets everyone's attention. I hope my son just tosses her, but I have to be prepared to talk to her about presenting herself in case he keeps her around. I can't just give her an etiquette lesson, but she needs to class it up. How do I take her tacky and make it classy? -- The Best for My Son, Cincinnati
DEAR THE BEST FOR MY SON: Be careful what you wish for, Mom! While you meant the best for your son, pushing him toward marriage before he was ready was not wise. Your son wants to please you while he also needs to establish his life independent of you. Now, virtually anything you say may be misconstrued because of your pushiness.
Rather than pushing him into her arms by complaining, be cordial to her when she comes over. If you host an event where she may show up dressed inappropriately, speak to her privately and let her know the expected dress code. Treat her with respect. When you need to educate her, do so kindly and without judgment. In this way, however she ultimately fits into your son's life, you will be able to manage. If you can find a space to talk with your son about marriage, change the subject to what qualities to look for in a life partner. Steer him to thinking long-term about his desires. This may help him decide about her.