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My smart, handsome, young adult son never dated much (as far as I was aware). He recently told us about a new relationship. I’m desperate for more deets! How often can I ask him questions? He doesn’t offer nearly enough info to keep me going.
Will curiosity kill this cat?
It just might. Unfortunately, to be honest, you’re kinda screwed. And believe me, I totally sympathize! As parents, you do all the work and get none of the hot goss! The good news is, you’ve launched a smart, handsome young man into the world, who is dating! Pat yourself on the back for that bit of wizardry because that is much easier said than done. The bad news is that he is an adult now and entitled to his privacy (damn him). As a person who grew up with a parent who wanted to know every detail all the time, I am here to tell you not to say a thing. Try to relish the fact that he even told you he was involved with someone. That already tells me that you have a great relationship with him. Enjoy that fact and bite your tongue. He will so appreciate that you are not pressuring him (since to them, “how are you?” can seem like “have you had sex yet?!?!”) that ironically, he may be more inclined to spill more. In the meantime, I highly recommend buying a punching bag.
I wouldn’t want to be a young person growing up right now, since everyone’s lives on social media look so ridiculously perfect. It’s enough to make the most confident kid wilt. And I totally get it because honestly, being on Facebook and Instagram have the same effect on me even though I am a full-fledged adult who knows that it’s all BS. Yet, here I am. I know these feelings are irrational and yet, it can really get to me. What to do?
Flawed and frustrated
Keep in mind these very important things about other peoples’ images on social media:
- You are comparing your insides to their outsides – not a level playing field.
- I don’t know anyone with a perfect life, particularly those who make sure they appear to have a perfect life. Do you know anyone with a perfect life?
- Remember the kids in high school who seemed to be so happy/successful/beautiful? Remember also going to your high school reunion 10 or 20 years later and finding out just how miserable they (and everyone else) were?
- We’re all the same: flawed people doing our best and coping in the ways that feel most comfortable. Some of us wear it on our sleeve, some of us don’t.
- No one loves being around seemingly perfect people. It just rings icky. So think of it this way: the more issues you have, the more people will be able to relate to you and the more popular you will be!
- And lastly, of course, the big one: you are beautiful. I rest my case.
My husband always brings a suitcase of work with him when we go on vacations (he’s a lawyer). I’m tired of fighting about it, but it really does take some of the joy out of my time away. Ideas?
Not in the contract
I can see how this would be very frustrating for both of you. He feels like he’s under the gun and you feel like it ruins your family time. Since the very definition of vacation is getting away from work, let’s see if there are some compromises that can be reached. As Gandhi once said, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, it’s the ability to deal with it.” Gotta hand it to the guy, he would have made a great therapist.
Think about all the times that the family has functioned better because it did things together. In fact, lifelong memories are formed when we do things out of the ordinary, which is why you remember vacations and not what you were doing on Feb 5 of last year. If he really feels that he has to be available, can he tell his employers that the only time he can work is between say, 6 and 10 a.m.? It can be hard to separate what is real stress from a really high-pressure job, and what may be feelings of pressure that are self-driven or budding workaholism (1-800-therapist, maybe Dr. Gandhi?). Would he be willing to go to a place with no internet connection or phone service? That would certainly do it. If nothing else works, send him and the kids on a vacation without you (I think I hear a spa calling…) and see if anyone comes back alive.
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Friday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at firstname.lastname@example.org.