“Am I Dying Alone?” And Other Shocking Revelations Parents Reveal To Their Children In Emails
It’s funny how parents have a knack for getting inside you head. Somewhere between my first trip to the principals office and becoming a Chreaster (christian on christmas and easter) my morals have evolved from WWJD to WWJeffD or WWLisaD. It goes with out saying that the whole point of parenting is to raise productive, contributing members of society with a high degree of integrity. But Once your 18 years are up, like my parents who have sent their youngest off to college, how do you continue to get inside your children’s head? From my experience, there are a couple of options.
1. Facebook tags. My friend’s dad likes to remind her that he is old enough to be a grandfather when he tags pictures of himself with babies and posts them to her wall.
2. The Thanksgiving Heart to Heart. This approach is for the kid that doesn’t make regular catch up phone calls with their parents…and refuses to confirm their friendship on facebook. This is the case for one of my friends. Don’t try to make plans with this person over Thanksgiving break, chances are you won’t see them because his/her parents are using delicious meals and shopping trips as leverage to find out about their son or daughters life and make subtle suggestions on how to improve it.
3. Emails. with the exception of our family kik thread where we exchange daily musings or harrass my sister for partying to much, emails are my family’s bread and butter. If you really want to get a point across….you send an email and a news article to back yourself up. If you are sending one such email, taglines are important. My mother likes to tug at the heartstrings, “one bad choice, and a ton of research to rationalize it. she is so lonely”. If my little sister sends and email, taglines are usually a little heavier on the caps, “HELLLLLLL YEAHHHHH DAMNNNNNN RIGHT!” Dad goes with an air of mystery by sending an email with no subject….so you have to pen it. The point is, Taglines exponentially increase the chances that the family member will read it.
Many of the emails sent by my parents have a political theme, to keep caroline and I well stationed in the camp of fiscal conservatism, other emails offer insight into the dynamic lives of young entrepreneurs. And since the beginning of college, my mom and I have been exchanging emails debating: the consequences of feminism and the lost of female leverage. Meaning, since young women have embraced the culture of casual hook ups and friends with benefits….thus losing any sense of chastity…and power in the relationship. I of course, in the dawn of my college years refused to believe this to be a true reality…and the email debate began. This is probably the point in the blog where you are expecting me to give a detailed and though provoking answer. The truth is, I feel a little like I am pulling a John Kerry. I waffle A LOT on this issue. But thats not the point. The point is how the emails weren’t really about feminism in the end- they directly impacted my college behavior. Because when you read between the lines…My mom was just using alternate parenting tactics for the college years. When I was a freshman, I would recieve emails about girls spurned by casual relationships in college, this was my mom’s subtle way of saying “don’t be that freshman girl. Your future social reputation and self esteem will hate you for the rest of your life and I don’t want to deal with that when you come back from college!”
Now, I recieve emails such as this one http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/all-the-single-ladies/8654/?single_page=true. They are 40 year old women who are single and complaining about how their prospects for marriage are neurotic and fat. And all the good men are married off. My little sister and I are not sure how we should be taking this. Exhibit A:
Confirming the fact that despite the distance. parental love, concern for our well being, and nudging can be felt no matter how far away, and we HEAR you. The fact is- the woman in the article was absolutely pathetic. Sure, Caroline and I had a stage of initial shock as we struggled to understand why our mother would be sending articles like this to us. Between the lines it seemed like mom was saying “hey- I’m happily married to my college sweetheart, what have you done today?”.
But no, because when you put all of their cyber email parenting into perspective, we would see that they are really just saying “follow your goals, be your own business, and if you run into love along the way- don’t be like that idiot and run away from it because it wasn’t in your plan”
And with any luck- their kids will end up happy, productive, members of society having no regrets, with the bonus of Jeff not having to tag himself in pictures with babies.