You Drive, You Pay Edition

Listen to this episode

S1: The following podcast is for parents, maybe not for kids.

S2: Welcome to Mom and dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, March 4th. You drive, you pay edition. I’m Dan Simon, writer at Slate and the author of the book How Your Family and the Dad of Lyra is 15. Harper, who’s 13.

S3: We look at Arlington, Virginia, and Jamilah Lemieux, a writer contributor to Slate’s Care and Feeding Parenting column, co-host of Slate’s Wild and Wise Talk Show. And Mom tonight, Emma, who is just about eight. And we live in Los Angeles, California. I’m Elizabeth, New Camp. I write the Home School and Family Travel Blog that Fuscus and I’m the mom to three little Henry who’s eight, Oliver who’s six, and Teddy, who’s four and four. Only eight more weeks. I am calling Navarre, Florida home.

Advertisement

S4: It’s a big move coming up. I cannot wait for you to just start send in the legal weed to everyone on the show. Yeah. Here to Colorado. All right. On today’s episode, hey, your kid just got their driver’s license. Congratulations to everyone. Now, how much should you be charging them for gas and insurance, especially if they’re not really making any money on their own? Then we’re going to jump right into the middle of a couple’s debate about whether or not it’s OK to curse around your kids. Finally on Slate plus, we are discussing the debate that tore Slate parenting Facebook apart. Oatmeal cookies, are they bullshit, vital analysis on Slate plus, as always, we’re going have Triumph’s, we’re going to have failed. We’re going to have recommendation’s. Let’s start with triumphs and or fails. Jameela, how about you? What do you got for us this week?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: I have a tryout. It’s a professional and a personal triumph all at once, but it’s not directly connected to parenting. I am flapping in that regard this week. I don’t even want to give you a feel. It’s all fail over here. The child has taken over. She’s in charge. There’s been a mutiny. Does she have any parenting? Time surveils. She’s got lots of them. Next week she’ll probably be in for me as she is the captain. Now, around these parts, I understood in my little corner of the world, I started a subsect newsletter. I actually started it a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to wait until I’d done enough post to say, OK, I feel confident I’m going to keep this up. I’m not going to just like drop it. Like, I’ve dropped so many projects that I was really excited and enthusiastic about before considering if I actually have the bandwidth or plan to execute them. So it’s Jamilah Lemieux, dot subsect dot com a newsletters called Doing the Most. I’m riffing on race, gender, parenting, sexuality, pop culture, things going on the news and talking a little bit about my personal life. And one thing that I’m going to be writing about regularly is living with anxiety that actually I just want to say thank you. I don’t think you realize how significant you have been in my career.

Advertisement

S4: I guess I don’t tell me more.

S5: I know this is I’m speaking your language now. Dan knows things. Dan says this is right. Well, Dan, luckily for me, Dan said I was right. And when Carville Wallace was kind enough to pass along my name in consideration for a replacement at Karen Feeding, Dan gave me a writing test and brought me on our sample column. And not too long after that, I did it. Test hosts episode for Mom and Dad are fighting a few months later and. It has changed my career.

Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: I’m delighted to hear it. I did not give you anything. You fucking came and took it because your samples are so good. And I’m really happy that we have you that the platform you have now is not only parenting, but a slate more broadly. And it’s been very fun watching you expand what you do on Slate from the parenting space to this new show and also expand what Slate does through the way that you consider new topics and new ideas and broaden this publication’s palette. So we’re very happy to have you.

Advertisement

S6: Thank you. So everyone go sign up for tumulus newsletter, too. It’s really, really nice and really just great writing and fun and about all different topics so far, I didn’t even know it existed.

S7: So I’m going to go sign up right now.

S5: Thank you. And I suck at personal promotion like I sent out an email to, like, close friends, maybe like and even that was like me, like dying’s if you like. I hate to ask you to support my work.

S4: Do you suck at personal promotion or did you just pull it off right here on this podcast?

S5: I had to work up the courage to do this. Good job. Thank you.

Advertisement

S6: It really is a triumph because you talk about the struggle to do this in your newsletter.

S4: I agree it can be hard. I often struggle with how to tell people about Ace of Hearts, the world’s best family card game. And yet I do I find a way. And so I’m glad that you were also able to find a way. Good triumph. Elizabeth, what about you?

S6: OK, well, I have a fail. I have the kids in Atlanta at my parents house. Our house is on the market and just trying to figure out how to have one the house clean with children there and have people in and out of my house in a safe way with the kids. So we are here and I’m trying to be kind of like outside, you know, with the kids as much as possible. But I don’t I just like when I’m not in my own space, things are a little bit harder. So I kind of hastily planned this trip to the Indian mounds, which are just north of the city. We went there. The visit was great, but it took about an hour. I was hoping to be out of the house a little bit longer. So I noticed that there was another state park next door. And I thought, well, perfect, we’ll go there. It’s called Redtop Mountain Weather. I picked up the junior ranger at the Ranger Pack. It says, like, go on this cool hike. And so with zero research or anything else, I just type in the trailhead drive there. I kind of take a picture of the trail map, but I figured, well, just head out. It’s a loop. It’s recommended in here. OK, well, the loop is like four miles long.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: Long story short, you’re podcasting from Redtop State Park.

S6: Yeah. Yeah. We’re lucky that we’re all back. I, I prepared none of the children for a long hike. I brought this like the little water bottle I have in my purse. So basically I led my children on a four mile hike with zero preparation. We all survived. And honestly, when we got back and we called Jeff from the car, I was like, oh, like, honey, you will not believe what I just did in the kids were like we did for miles. Can you believe it? I mean, the whole two miles on the way back, they they complained about two miles and they were like, OK, we’re done, where’s the car? And I was like, oh, let me check the map. I was like, oh, boy, this is a circle. And we are we are two miles into the circle. So no matter which way we go, it’s bad. But they were like we did four miles were so great. Now, Oliver, who is actually the one I would worry about the most, walked without complaint until we could see the cars, at which point he threw himself on to the ground and was like, I can go no further. I was like, but the car is right there. And he’s like, I can’t walk it all. I did have the carrier with me, so I’d put Teddy in the carrier. And so I ended up letting Teddy down. He’s like, I can finish. And I was like, well, yeah, because you’ve been carried for like three of the four miles. And I have so, like, carry Oliver to the car for the last hundred feet because he just, you know, broke down at the side of the car. But anyway, read your trail maps.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: Congratulations on your inspiring death march.

S5: I appreciate that. Oliver waited like he gauged how long you would have to carry him. It isn’t going to be like a long time. He was like, but I’m going to need a little bit of this pampering, too. Yeah. You like Wife Swap? It would just be like you and I am like having the time of your lives and like me, probably just giving your boys too many snacks.

S6: They would love that. That’s all they need to love someone.

S7: Yeah. You’d be a big hit. Yeah.

S5: What about you, Dan?

S4: I have a fail this week. It’s a little bit prosaic, but it’s been driving me crazy, so I want to share it with everyone. You know how there’s that expression. The people say, man, that’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. And I’ve always been like, who cares? What’s such a big deal about sliced bread? It turns out I can’t slice bread. I’m incapable. Slicing bread, Aliette, has started baking among the many wonderful things she has been baking as she’s recently branched out into baking delicious sandwich bread, this just these perfect, beautiful loaves of sandwich bread that look exactly like something you’d get from a fancy bakery. And they’re so delicious. And whenever I try to cut them into slices to make sandwiches for my children.

Advertisement

S7: It’s just a fucking disaster, like I line it up and I slice carefully and I’m like looking at all sides of the bread while I slice it. And then I end up with this like thing. This the slice, the slices are like like non Euclidian hyperbolic polygon like shapes that should not exist in our universe that are like in 11 dimensions. And each slice somehow is four inches thick in one place and then also has a hole in it somewhere else. And then my kids are eating sandwiches and there’s like mayonnaise squirting out all over the place. But also they can’t fit it in their mouths because it’s too big. So anyway, could someone please explain bread to me because my family is starving? I can’t solve this problem at all. How do you do that?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: Can they cut the bread?

S4: They’re even worse than me.

S5: Bread I can’t cut. Do you have a bread and do you have a specific.

S4: We have a specific bread. Knife is not the problem. The knife cuts through bread like a knife through butter, but something about the squishing of the bread and my inability to view it in four dimensions. It’s just something goes wrong every time and I just end up with something that does not resemble a slice.

S6: But you have to kind of like compress it. Like as you’re holding the bread, you compress it a little bit.

S4: What I want is one of those big machines that they have in the Safeway deli where you just put the bread in and it goes and then at the end it’s sliced perfectly. How much could one of those be?

Advertisement

S5: What about a razor blade or like piano wire?

S7: Just like.

S6: Oh, yeah, what about cutting it with light? Because, you know, the best way to cut cake is with like a piece of dental floss. It makes perfect lines.

S7: Cut it in half for an enormous just cutting it in half right down the middle often. That’s essentially what I’m doing.

S5: Yeah. Foot long for it the other way. Yeah. You can make no bones.

S7: Well, thank you to both of you and to all the helpful Eloise’s who are sure to write in with great tips. I appreciate it. I’m going to try every single one of them and I’ll report back. Thank you.

S1: All right, let’s talk some business. Slate plus members. It is survey time again. It means it’s your chance to tell us what you think about Slate plus and Slate and help us make Slate plus better for you and only take a few minutes. You can find it at Slate Dotcom Slash survey. Check out Jamila’s new slate live show, Wild and Wise, she’s hosting it with her best friend, William Bryant Miles. And every Wednesday evening, they’re talking about race, sex, identity, modern life with wit and wisdom. It’s live at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific every Wednesday. If you don’t want to wait until next week, you can catch the first few episodes right now by going to Slate’s Facebook or YouTube pages or just visit Slate Dotcom live. If you want to hear about everything that’s going on in the Slate Parenting Cinematic Universe, you should sign up for the Slate parenting newsletter. It’s just an email. It’s from me. It’s got funny stories about my family, stupid jokes, but also links to everything that Slate publishes about parenting. Mom and dad are fighting. Ask a teacher, Karen feeding much, much more. Sign up at Slate Dotcom Slash Parenting email. Hmm. And finally, if you want to connect with other parents, join our parenting group on Facebook. It’s super active, super moderated. We kick jerks out. Sometimes we throw it out the window. Just search for slate parenting on Facebook, dotcom. Okay, back to the show. Let’s get into our first listener question of the week, as always, it is being read by none other than last superb Shasha Leonhard.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S8: Dear Mom and dad, my daughter is about to get her driver’s license, and I’m trying to figure out a formula for charging her for gas, insurance and maintenance costs. She will be using our cars for pleasure, driving to school and errand running for context. She earns twenty dollars per week. She is required to watch her little brother for five hours per week and load the dishwasher every night. Currently, the money she earns is purely for fun coffee shop purchases, phone upgrades and other nonessentials. She has her own account and I do not dictate how she spends that money. If she wants to buy 20 dollars and Gummi Bears thus on her. I’m trying to teach her that owning a car comes with responsibility, but I’m not sure what a fair formula would be. Thoughts.

S6: So. I think it’s like really hard to come up with a formula because each family is different. Obviously each kid is different like what they’re doing with the car. This is a wonderful opportunity to basically teach and model the right way to budget and manage expenses. And the car is a good thing to do this with because you can set up expectations for like, here’s what we plan to cover. But there are all these consequences with a car that can end up in costing more. And so it’s it’s pretty easy to say, like, well, we’re going to cover this based car insurance. But, you know, should you have a moving violation? Should you have this your car insurance will go up and you are responsible for that. Being able to say like this is how much gas money we are going to give you based on the uses that we perceive you using the car. So like, are they using the car to do family things? But anything over that, you know, you need to cover, like coming up with some of those. I also take into account, of course, like that. Them driving themselves to things is one less thing that you have to do, and one of the ways I thought might be good to approach this is to actually have your child present you with a budget. So say to them, go kind of figure out what this is going to cost and come back to us with what you think would be fair.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Djamila. What about you? Do you agree with the premise and how do you think a family should work this out?

S5: So being an adult is literal garbage.

S7: Paying for everything, sex I like, where do you start with the big picture?

S5: Let’s start this half. OK, let’s go wide here. Having to pay for essentially everything, or perhaps if you’re married, half of everything that you consume or do or need is often quite stressful. However, lack of exposure to information about budgeting and money in childhood can lead to some really poor money habits in adulthood. So on one hand, I think it’s really great that you are teaching your child about budgeting and fiscal responsibility. However, I think that if you are in a position to do so, which it seems that you are because your child is not working outside of the home, you’re paying them, I would urge you to consider perhaps allowing some of the cost of having this car to be a gift from you to your child, to be something that you’re providing them while they are a minor residing in your home, while they are somebody who is running errands on behalf of the family. I think that you can have them perhaps contributing to this pot, but I don’t think that they should be required to take on additional work or significant amount of additional work, rather, to pay for the privilege of doing something that a lot of children are just simply allowed to do. You know, you’re paying them twenty dollars a week for five hours of work. That is not teaching them if this is a 16 year old assembly or somebody that’s driving age. You’re kind of teaching them a complicated lesson about money because you’re not really teaching them the value of the dollar in the current marketplace, right? That’s not you know, dishwashing is one thing. That’s a family chore. And but but if they were working in a restaurant, they would be paid significantly more than that. If they were babysitting someone else’s children, they would be paid for that. And so maybe be clear that like they’re not being paid for that labor, that they can have their allowance because they checked off their chore boxes. But that that is not they are not earning that money. It’s just something that that that you wish to give them. However, they can’t have it if they don’t fulfill their responsibilities around the house, because otherwise you are not paying them enough for the work that you are having this baby doing.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: We have talked a lot on this show for many years in conversations between us and then also with Ron Lieber about the value of divorcing allowance from chores. And I think that’s something that this family should consider, as Jamila suggested, however. I got to say, it’s great, I think, to say, well, you should make some part of the money that it costs to have them driving a car be a gift. But there’s no universe in which most of that money can’t be a gift from the parents, certainly not a universe in which this child is only making twenty dollars a week and has no other job. But even if the child has another job. The added cost to a family of putting a teenage driver in that house is insane, like it is a huge amount of money. Here’s just one example. Our neighbors, whose son just got his driver’s license at age 17, their car insurance previously was seven hundred dollars every six months. It is now seventeen hundred dollars every six months. And that doesn’t even count any of the gas, any upkeep, the inevitable accidents, any of that stuff.

S5: I certainly know that they this child, with their three dollars an hour wage, would not be able to pay all the expenses for a car. And for that reason, I feel that what they would be taking from this child is such a drop in the bucket that I would rather you just let them have their little funky ass gummy bears than taking their 20 dollar allowance away. You’re going to have to increase the I would like for you to perhaps increase the allowance if you are going to take gas money or car money out of it, because, like, make the allowance away.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: Yes. You know, you can’t make them pay for something if you’re not if they don’t have any money. So so the whole framework of this question is a problem.

S4: You’re already taking it as a given that the kid is only going to be driving through some beneficence on the part of the parents. And so, yes, it becomes a question of what is the purpose of charging them more money. I’m inclined to feel that there is real value to the family, not only a teaching value, but a fiscal value in in making a kid put a solid investment of time and money into this enormous life change and this thing that is costing your family a ton of cash. My suggestion of this family would be not only should this child pay for whoknows 20 percent of their car expenses, she’s got to get a job to help pay for this stuff. And I know that it is heavy and it is it is great to be able to shield our children from the kind of bullshit of being adults for as long as we can. But this is like a college class that you are paying for this kid to drive a car around. And it’s true that in some ways it’s going to make your life easier. But it’s also true that you are doing this as a way of giving your child something that probably they really want and is going to make their life more pleasurable, and it’s not crazy, I don’t think, to make them do some work for that thing, work outside of the house. I know one family who just basically had a rule. There are three people using the car. So every third time that the car gets filled up with gas, it’s on you and the other two times it’s on the other people. That’s one way to handle it. And then you do run into the situation of when the kid inevitably gets into a fender bender, which will happen. It happens to nearly every between 16 and 20 year old I’ve ever met. How do you pay for that? Because, you know, that’s probably a thousand bucks right there. I think in general, like putting like a basically a 20 percent allowance on that, as well as probably a pretty good and safe way to go. And that’s going to be a big expense for that kid. But it’s going to be a pain that that they’re definitely going to remember and will also make it a little bit easier on you to be able to afford this thing.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: Let’s not even talk about the new cab family 15 years from now when they have three teenage boys on their insurance. About that a lot. Yeah, I mean, at least they’ll be driving somewhere other than Florida. But still, I mean, I can’t even imagine you’re basically you’re just going to have to stop. Yeah, well, I don’t even know how you’re gonna be able to do it.

S5: They look alike. They can just share one driver’s license and share their insurance.

S6: Yes. I still think that having them propose something up front is a good way to have a starting point, but also have them put in the work to figure out what this really looks like. You know, like if they call the insurance company to find out what it is like, imagine that shock. You know, even if at the end you say we’re going to cover this for you because I like your parents and also like, if they can’t call the insurance company or they can’t do these things, are they ready for the responsibility of getting.

S4: Well, I’m going to take the kid with me when we have to replace the key of our car and it costs like 150 fucking bucks. All right. Thank you for writing in listeners. If you want to know if we can help you, email us at mom and dad. It’s like dot com or do it. This listener did and posted to the Slate Parenting Facebook group. We would like to know what you decide and how this conversation goes. So please write us back and give us a follow up. Also, let us know what job your kid got. There’s a lot of great jobs out there. All right. On to our second listener question. Read, as always, by the anchor fireballer. Shasha Lyonel.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S8: Dear mom and dad are fighting, my husband and I have been married for 10 years now and we have two children ages six and three through our parenting years. So far, we have fallen into somewhat stereotypical roles I mom and the serious one who planned school decisions and lunchboxes and reminds everyone of the House rules. Dad is the fun one, the one who tackles and tickles and breaks into silly voices when reading stories. I’m mostly OK with this, as we have always had different personalities that balance each other out well, so it works out. But there is one big exception, my husband uses profanity a lot and just doesn’t seem to care very much about swearing in front of the kids. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a potty mouth myself after the kiddos are in bed. But I go to extra lengths to try to prevent my kids from hearing profanity on TV, on the radio, and especially from us. My husband just doesn’t care so much about this. I know a lot of this is due to our backgrounds. I don’t think I was aware of the F word until like eighth grade while he was raised in a household where profanity and R rated movies were pretty regular. I hope I’m not being too prudish for wanting to protect my little ones from profanity in these early years when they are absorbing everything around them. We have fallen into an awful pattern where a couple of times a week he will offhandedly swear at home. And I’ll condescendingly say, we don’t say that word, please don’t say that in front of the kids. And he’ll just be annoyed and pissed with me afterward. It has gotten so bad that recently during a school pickup, he let out aloud what the fuck to a parent swerving in front of him. And it was clearly heard by a bunch of innocent preschoolers and their teacher. How can I help him understand that this is a big deal to me in terms of the environment I’d like to have around my kids without constantly fighting about it, I know we can’t protect them from bad words and everything else forever, but I don’t think I’m being unreasonable to want both parents to model good and decent behavior at the same time. Help fucking exhausted.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: You know, I didn’t know that you were a human being until I read your sign off fucking exhausted, I was a little worried. Listen, you want your. Has been some model, good and decent behavior for your children, but I imagine that your husband is a good and decent man, which is why you married him and gave him children, plural. If his profanity was such a mark on his character, his ability to function in the world, to make a living, to be liked by people, to avoid the hand of the law, then he wouldn’t be the person that he is today, the person you chose to start a family with. I think that you are, you know, quite naturally beholden to the ideals that with which you were raised, which were why you weren’t aware of certain language until you were, you know, a teenager. That is not the case for a lot of people. And so you wanting your husband to make this complete transformation of his language is akin to, you know, him expecting you to have a completely different approach to language and decorum than what you were raised with and what you’ve practiced all these years. You’re going to have to find a happy medium. It is absolutely not ideal for your husband to be cursing in front of other parents excuse me, and adults at the school. But if somebody almost hit you with their car and you are a person who uses profanity on a regular basis, that is the likely thing to escape your mouth. You’re right. He did not reprimand your child with what the fuck, Steven? Somebody swerved and maybe almost hit his car. And a guy who curses said a curse word, maybe a little bit embarrassing, but it’s a very forgivable offense. And a lot of those children are hearing far worse at home. I think there’s a very big difference between making sure your children understand what these words mean, the context in which they are most often used and the potential consequences to using them inappropriately. But I think you’re giving a lot of a lot of power to this language that our society does not really these words are not as loaded as they once were. They’re used casually by people of all classes and creeds. Children use them. They they may be wise enough not to use them in your presence. But, you know, that’s not to say that your husband should not respect something a big deal to you. I don’t want to wave that away. I just would like for you to perhaps consider that this thing that means a lot to you is a nothing burger. You feeling disrespected or not heard is something else. And I think you should address both of those things at once.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: Even though I am a person that doesn’t use a lot of swear words, we don’t use a lot at the house. But I think the idea that they are protecting their children from knowing or hearing these words is crazy. And you mentioned that, you know, their friends are going to use them. They’re used like in society, much more, I think, now than they were ten years ago. Twenty years ago. So you’re not really protecting them from them. You can have the opportunity to if your children use them or they’re they’re being used to talk about why they’re powerful, to talk about when why they’re being used in what situations it’s appropriate to use the words. But the idea of like fully shielding your children from them, it seems like in in this particular case, is actually bringing more attention to them. Like if every time dad says these words and then the parent, the mom is like, hey, don’t do that in front of the kids. Like, what do the kids want to do? They want to know what that is like. What is this thing that is getting so much attention? So I think definitely need to find a new way to address it with your husband, which is going to be talking about this at another time and addressing with him why you feel disrespected by it, what you hope the behavior is in the house. And maybe it’s as simple as him just saying, you know, like apologizing to you for using the words because you find them hurtful in the moment. But I think the kind of dangerous interaction that’s happening here with the swearing is less about the swearing and more about the tension it’s causing in the House and the way the two of you respond to each other when it happens. There are certainly like in the case of him swearing in front of the the school children. Right. I feel like if you played that out, the natural thing to do would be for him to apologize for his language. Right. Like if someone approached him and said this was inappropriate. So maybe that’s the way it needs to be handled in the house. But I just feel like overall this is bringing more attention to these words as opposed to just saying, like, these are words that people choose to use for these reasons and they have power. And here’s why. And then setting what? Ever your household expectation is, and I also think, like in life, different people have different expectations, but your husband’s going to have to deal with his expectations for the kids and any fallout that comes, you know, from that as a as a result, I don’t know that you can change his behavior. All you can do is change the way that you respond and this bad interaction that’s happening every time this happens in the house.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: But he’s not going to deal with the fallout because he’s the fun parent. She’s the serious parent.

S6: I guess I feel like when your child swears in front of someone and there’s trouble, you get to just say. It’s your turn, you get to go meet with the teacher, you get to go do whatever, because this is not you know, this is not the thing that I’m bringing into the family. I don’t know. That’s how I’d handle it.

S4: I cannot believe that I am coming down on the side of the prudish mom instead of her fun swearing husband.

S1: But I kind of think that if you have a partner who feels strongly about this. It is not that hard to have the impulse control to turn the swearing off for a couple of years and not be an asshole about it, and it’s like not that difficult. Even I did it and I swear all the fucking time and I have no impulse control.

S5: So you never slip. She says he’s slipping up a few times a week.

S4: And that day, a few times a week, I, I mean, I definitely until my kids are about six or seven, I just did not swear in front of them. Maybe the one time I did was when someone cut me off and then they’re like, wow, that must have been really serious because Dad swore I feel like there are a lot of, like, big flashing lights in this email that are worth thinking about. And you guys are right that the the issue of the lack of respect represented in his unwillingness to do this totally simple thing is an issue. But I think it’s a bigger issue then than it seems to me. You guys are necessarily recognizing or acknowledging. I think that this woman feels totally unheard and frustrated with this aspect of the marriage. And it’s like a tiny microcosm of this, what seems to me bigger issue in the marriage that she says in her letter basically works OK, but like 10 years from now, she is not going to be happy that she spent her kids entire childhood with him being the fun dad and Hurby and the not fun mom and him having cover because he is the fun dad to just basically say and do whatever he wants. And her feeling like she not only has to police the kids, but him like that’s a terrible relationship. And it’s reflected in, as you say, Elizabeth, this tense, awful interaction that they are having every time he swears. But I don’t think you can just say, well, she needs to find a different way to react to this thing, that he just is not going to be able to stop himself from doing. He is totally capable of stopping himself from swearing. And it’s not a crazy ask when you have a three and a six year old to be like, it would be great if you just stop saying fuck for a couple of years in front of the kids. It’s not that hard. I don’t know that I have a great solution. I think Elizabeth is right that if you do choose to pursue it further, the way to do it is not through a bunch of passive aggressive comments the moment he swears. And then you have to have this fucking standoff every time, which is terrible and does make the kids way more interested in the squares. The way to do it is to have a separate conversation with him about the way that what he does makes you feel and the disrespect that you feel it shows you and try to appeal to that in making this case. But I’m not inclined necessarily to just to say that it’s totally a nothing burger, even though I now swear all the time in front of my kids. And I do think it’s useful to have these conversations with them about context. And I don’t really care that much if my kids swear in front of me. And I just tried to talk to them about how well they don’t do it at school or in front of Kiki because then she’ll murder us. But I do think that. If you would like your home to be a place where the adults are not swearing in front of the three year old, that’s not an unreasonable thing to want. And it is unreasonable to just be somehow unable to accomplish that.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: There’s certainly a lot here, but I don’t think that is as simple as she’s being disrespected and unheard. I think that, like, the fact that they’ve fallen into these patterns of behavior falls on both of them. I don’t always assume that, like, the fun parent is inherently irresponsible or adverse to rules. Right. But like. How have the two of you all kept a household together prior to having children, right, like how did you get bills paid and establish whether you’re going to live like there’s some semblance of order between you? And I hope that it’s not the case that one guy just buys Cheetos and Doritos and you pay bills every month, because if that’s the case, you’ve got a bigger issue. But like what sort of negotiations or conversations have you all made about like. Being the fun parent and being, you know, do we need to have good cop bad cop roles at times? Right. Are we acknowledging that these are the roles that we kind of naturally fit into? And so you’re going to be deliberate about making sure that you two are doing funny voices when you’re reading stories. Right, that you are also saying we can have two desserts tonight. Right. That you’re not always the person who’s so rigid and unyielding with rules in order that they can’t see you as fun or at the very least that your version of rules and regimented, safe, well planned fun is actually fun and engaging for them. Right. Like, are they getting to have that kind of time with you? Are they only dealing with you in the capacity of. The boss, the person who’s keeping this this operation together, what sort of role does your husband play that allows your children to see him as a person of authority, aside from him simply being their father? Right. If it is the case that you are always the person who’s issuing the bed time and you are the person who is saying no and that that’s something that both of you all have been complicit in doing is not just a matter of he lets them have more things than I do, is that you all have not created a system of checks and balances in your parenting. And that’s a problem that’s deeper than this particular issue. But I want to push back against you even a little bit more, Dan, because like while I do think that. There is the possibility that what you’re describing is entirely accurate, that she, you know, she’s asked him to do this, he just simply refuses to try harder. It could also be the case that for somebody who uses a lot of profanity to only slip up and and swear in front of his kids a few times a week could represent great effort. Right? It could be that he has been so because he’s been using he’s been hearing this language since he was a child. So the idea of swearing around the kid to him might not be inappropriate. He’s learning something different than what he was taught, perhaps about parenting and being around children. But also, I think why I’m bothered by the moral condemnation. Like, again, you didn’t say like appropriate for the venue language, right? You talked about good and moral. And so when you’re framing it that way and she used the word condescending, that she is condescending when she corrects him in front of their children, which is something that can make a parent who doesn’t feel like they’re the voice of authority or a voice of authority in the home, feel even more insecure about their role. Right. And shrink into this childlike thing that perhaps he’s doing. But for him for you to correct him in front of your children, I, like most parents, do not wish to be corrected in front of your children. You know, it happens. I think there’s a way to do it politely and lovingly, which you did not do. By your own admission. You’re saying that you’re doing it condescendingly and you’re describing this behavior that is normal to him and perhaps to his parents as not being moral and good, as opposed to simply saying it’s not appropriate for children, is not appropriate for school and work. And so I think you might be making him feel bad about himself and wanting him to change these behaviors to suit you.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: I think we are all 100 percent in agreement that her self admitted condescending responses in the moment are doing nothing helpful for the situation and that whatever happens down the line, that isn’t going to work. I’m sure that it makes him just want to swear more because it Sherwood if someone did that to me in front of my kids. I nonetheless. Have a very difficult time believing that any grown human being. Cannot exert the necessary effort to stop themselves from swearing in front of kids if that is something that is important to someone they love. I just think it’s not that hard. And I don’t see and maybe this guy would write into us and be like, I have a strong philosophical belief based on my upbringing that it is important to swear in front of children and that it builds X, Y and Z important characteristics. If so, I stand corrected, but I just think he’s just being lazy in his language and speech, or else he’s deliberately doing something that his wife doesn’t like because he’s so pissed off that she keeps condescendingly correcting him in front of their kids. Either way, it’s like a toxic situation that he can do as much to fix as she can and. And I. And I don’t want to let it slide that I think that there are real undercurrents of like a big mess in this relationship in this letter of which this particular thing is just like.

S6: Yeah, like a symptom. I mean, I do like her questions at the end of the letter where she basically says, how do I get him to understand this is a big deal to me. I agree with you that this is less about the swearing. And if we want to talk about the relationship, I absolutely think you guys need to sit down and talk about this, because if it’s not about the swearing, it’s about you asking him, don’t do this in front of the kids because it’s a big deal to me and him saying, I don’t care. That’s a very different issue. Right. Like, how are you feel about the swearing when you’re in a relationship? Part of that is you saying, I understand that sometimes I am going to do things because they are important to my partner. And perhaps that is the heart of the issue, is that you’re writing us this letter to say, my partner’s not listening to me. When I say it’s important, I think then you need to have a sit down where you say to him, it doesn’t really matter why this is important to me. It’s very important to me. And I need you to do this because in relationships, we do things for other people. Just because they are important, even if we don’t understand that right. Is part of the reason he’s using this language because it bothers you so much. Right. Like that is a very popular you know, and when you’re fighting in a relationship, using the thing, you know, bothers them the most, like, I definitely agree, especially if they’re like being such a pain in the ass.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: Yes.

S6: Like, it definitely seems to me that what stood out is that the way in which you are talking about swearing and it happening in your house is unhealthy, regardless of our feelings about the swearing. This could be anything like cleaning out the microwave. Right? Like it doesn’t matter. The point is, the way it’s being handled in the relationship is not healthy for the relationship.

S5: I think that the only way that you know and who am I but a humble baby mama, but I seriously think that the value judgment in her assessment of the cursing is a problem. It’s it’s a if and nothing else. It’s a barrier between her getting what she wants and and feeling hurt. I think that they need to work through that. I think each of them needs to talk about what does this mean to you, because it could be that he finds it just absolutely preposterous that she would care, you know, and it also could be that he finds something insulting about her contempt for something that’s so natural to him, something that she indulges in outside of the line of sight for the kids, because essentially she’s not. If you say it’s not moral, then you shouldn’t be doing what you’re said. What what you actually should be saying is that it’s not appropriate for work or school. It’s not appropriate for children. This is not the way you speak to your parents. This is not the way you speak to your friends at this age. I just I don’t know. I’m part of I’m the I’m the pro cursing parent, like you said. Maybe that’s what the dad cares about now. This is what I care about. I want to there’s simply words. And one day we will not have to wear suits to work because they’re stupid and uncomfortable and nobody likes them. You know, it’s just like and people have neck tattoos in Congress and we can all just be ourselves. But for now, we’re still beholden to decorum. But no, I. I just want I want you to be free. I just want us to be free.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: I have one last thing to say about this letter, which is I have this beautiful image of after a long, tense day where they’re sniping at each other, the kids go to bed and finally this mom sits down on the couch and goes, fuck, fuck, asshole, fuck, shit, shit, shit, fuck.

S6: Because she finally can exercise her potty mouth now that the kids are in bed, maybe they should do that together, maybe that’s a debate that should be the routine, like for themselves, use a glass of whatever beverage makes them happy and just let it all out.

S4: Together, away, away. All right, thank you for this question, listener. That was a fun one. Hopefully this helps. I don’t know that we solved your problem, but we definitely gave you a lot to think about. If you’ve got a conundrum you have been thinking about, send it in email. I said, mom and dad, it’s dotcom or post it in the Slate Parenting Facebook group. All right, let’s move on to recommendations. Elizabeth, what do you got for us?

S6: I am recommending these online music lessons we’ve been using. It’s called Prodigy’s Sing Song Play. They have toddlers through, like even adults could use it because they’ve got piano lessons and ukuleles and it’s like a monthly subscription, basically. So you can do it for as long as you want. And they’re great little videos. They’re lovely for my younger ones. They focus a lot on music, listening, and they’re super fun. Tell the parents what to do, have a lesson. But we’ve really been enjoying them and I have very limited musical ability. So it’s been nice. I’ve got Oliver has really been enjoying the ukulele and Henry’s been enjoying the recorder. And although it started out as like a whole bunch of a mess, they can now play a couple of songs and it’s very cute. And they just do it on the computer. And I don’t I don’t mind listening along. So it’s called Prodigy’s.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Got a great app that encourages your child to play the recorder, the worst musical instrument on the face of the earth. Jameela, what are you recommending this week?

S5: I am recommending the by design, they are a small black owned furniture company that makes sustainable seating. I actually have not purchased from them yet when I am a dad and step mom got an amazing sectional from them recently and I’m totally buying their style. There’s probably like a funny joke about like, I don’t know, there’s some sort of funny joke that’s supposed to make about, like, you know, me buying the couch that the stepmother borrowed and stepmother coming behind me in other ways. But, you know, we all love each other. But anyway, it’s really I mean, they’ve only got three pieces at this point, the essential section, all the essential ataman and the essential stuff. But they’re made from sustainable materials and they’re washable and kid friendly. And they come in a bunch of really pretty colors and they’re reasonably priced. And you can finance their stuff and you can order online and ship nationwide. So it’s Sibai A, B, A I that design really beautiful stuff and my couch looks like absolute hell.

S4: So you are willing to invest in a good couch even with a child at your child’s age? I don’t think we were ready to be there until our kids. I don’t think we’re ready. We’re there yet. Until they stop eating pretzels on the couch. I don’t think we’re willing to invest in a good couch.

S5: This is I know I hesitated on the last one was not a great couch. I think we we got it’s worth with it. But this is supposed to be very easy to clean, I guess, because it’s made of all the sustainable water bottles stuff. So you’re supposed to have to wipe things off. So I’m hoping to wipe my child’s just wipe her off.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: You have to keep us posted because my movers are bound to break several pieces of my furniture. It always like after the move, we need to replace a bunch.

S5: I wish they had a leopard print by design. If you’re hearing this, I would be happy to be a first influencer and also your first leopard print couch customer, the Jamilah Lemieux collection.

S4: Yes, it’s got a nice ring to it. All right. So for my recommendation, I was very upset this morning to wake up to the news that Dr. Seuss is now canceled and that anyone discovered with a copy of his books will be executed on the spot. It was very sad. But then I learned that actually it’s just that the the literal estate of Dr. Seuss has stopped publishing six of his books because they are so racist. So that’s fine. But I was nervous when I saw one of the titles of one of the books that they’re no longer publishing. If I ran the zoo because I thought for a minute it was I ran the circus, which is the best Dr. Seuss book and my favorite read aloud book of all time. But it’s not it’s not that one.

S7: So I’m recommending if I ran the circus, which is still fine. It’s hilarious. It’s weird. It’s totally inventive. It is incredibly fun to read aloud. It’s like it’s like reading it aloud is like doing it like a double wheelie loop. The loop on the motorcycle. It’s like that’s how crazy linguistically it is. I just went through it again to check. It’s not racist. Great job Dr. Seuss. Although I will say that you should change the name of the song that the marching band plays from Dixie to like Yankee Doodle or something, but it’s still a great book. I highly recommend it as a read aloud a spectacular If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: Look at you standing up for marginalized white men everywhere.

S4: I know. Finally, the doctors. Dr. Seuss wrote a good children’s book. Where would he be without you?

S7: It’s true that there’s nothing more different than a small minority owned business then the estate of Dr. Seuss, that is. I’m happy that we have both perspectives on the show today.

S2: All right. That’s it for our show one last time. If you want us to weigh in on your quandaries, email us. Mom and dad at Slate Dotcom posted to the Slate Parenting Facebook group. Just search for Slate parenting. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the show. Wherever you listen to your podcast, it helps us out and you’ll never miss an episode. And hey, while you’re there, please write reviews. Mom and Dad are fighting us. Produced by Rosemarie Bellson for Jamilah Lemieux and Elizabeth Camp, I’m Dan. Please. Thanks for listening. Hello, sleepless listeners.

S4: Thank you so much for joining us and for supporting Slate. Plus, the support that you give us helps us make the show, helps pay our salaries, helps pay Rosie’s salary so she can cut out all the dumb stuff. I say it really means a lot. Thank you so much. So here’s your bonus segment. It’s a fresh baked treats like cookies, except you. They’re oatmeal. All right, Djamila, take it away. Please explain the debate that blew up the Slate Parenting Facebook Channel.

S5: So about two weeks ago, I just. Doing regular late night activities, including eating cookies, I started thinking about how my cookie tastes have evolved over the years. When I was a kid, I was always quick to pick up anything with chocolate chocolate chip, even though chocolate chocolate chip was not ever as good as a regular chocolate chip cookie under most circumstances. But, you know, chocolate, chocolate chunks, chocolate chunk, candy. Oh, my God. Like, I used to eat cookies with candy and cookies with candy. And it makes like Eminem cookies are absolutely vile and disgusting piles of sugar to me now. But as a kid, that’s all I wanted. All the sugar I can get. And oatmeal cookies were cool. Like if they were the only cookie available, they were fine, but they would never be my go to pick. Like with rare exceptions, you have to make a really phenomenal oatmeal cookie to get many Djamila to eat it.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Like if that choice was an oatmeal cookie or celery, you would choose the oatmeal cookie.

S5: I would certainly choose the oatmeal country, but if the oatmeal cookie was not going to be selected over nearly any other breed of cookies short of sugar, we could do a whole segment about sugar cookies being the greatest disappointment and just a failure to rise to the occasion because you could literally shift a few things around and make shortbread, which is a great cookie. You could make butter butter cookie. That isn’t a shortbread, but. Oatmeal cookies have recently taken on a new life for me, like they’ve become the thing that I go to, like when cookies are on the table, when cookies are available, unless I am aware that the chocolate chip cookie that is there is somehow superior. I go to the oatmeal. So as I get older and I realize that I’m liking oatmeal cookies, more thought back to like, OK, when I was a kid I sort of associated oatmeal cookies as an adult thing. Like my parents would be more likely to pick up an oatmeal cookie than a chocolate chip cookie. So I you know, they’ve got to sort of fake veneer of health about them because there’s oats and there’s raisins often, you know. And so I thought of them as maybe more the adult tree. And so I was wondering, was that uniquely my experience? Did other kids see oatmeal cookies as being more for grown ups than for kids? Were they a viable option at all or were they gross? And so I go to the Facebook group hoping to find some clarity. And I created the most chaotic poll in the history of polling, first of all. So like you all know, I do not use Facebook like I used Facebook to log into apps essentially like that is the role that Facebook plays in my life. I don’t really use the platform, but I do allow them to hold all of my information seems like the right balance so that I can avoid logging in. But I came to Facebook for answers. I created a poll with what I thought were these very reasonable options, right. Like, oh, you know, oatmeal cookies to me were for adults. And I prefer chocolate chip. You know, I always liked oatmeal cookies. I never liked them. Or adults liked oatmeal more than kids. Super simple options. I did not know that in on the book at Face, people can just join your poll with their own options. What the hell is that? That is not a poll. That is a message board, which this was already a message board. Why don’t understand how is it possibly a poll if I can create like this isn’t an election, this is not a democracy. I just wanted a non-scientific sample. You know, I just wanted to know what percentage of however many people answered felt this way.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: There are twenty two total options in the poll.

S5: We had just under two thousand total votes, two thousand useless as votes because our poll was broken. I would tell you what the results of this poll are, but there are none because they are a cluster fuck of words. But among the most popular option, which was added by Meghan, was oatmeal cookies were disappointing, substitute for chocolate chip and still are. Second most popular was I enjoyed them independently of chocolate chip cookies and never had to deal with the comparison or swap. So shout out to everyone who’s never been to a subway restaurant in their life, to never been to a bakery. How could three hundred and seventy three of you all lie to me and say you never had to deal with the comparison when they are side by side nearly every time cookies are presented to you?

S4: Yeah, I agree that that’s bullshit. No one’s ever not had to choose between those cookies.

S6: Like maybe they feel like today I feel like oatmeal raisin. Like some days they feel like one and feel I feel like.

S7: I’m sorry. Did you what did you say. No, no. Say the words you said again.

S6: I just feel like oatmeal raisin. I just feel like, you know, what on earth has ever said those words, Elizabeth? Well, not me. You know, the oatmeal raisin thing is the thing that almost ended my marriage right when Jeff presented me with the book Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, when he knows that I hate them because they were actually a gift for him that he brought to me believing they were my birthday gift. So this is a very emotional issue for me, because, Jeff, if you’re listening, I hate oatmeal raisin cookies. I hate them. I hate them. They are not cookies. I hate them.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: How can I forget about the raising Cookie Booke? Did he get them at work or were they like they were given to him at work?

S4: Classic Air Force gift.

S6: Classic Air Force. You promoted gift. You know, I just happened at my birthday three days later, so we just brought him to me.

S4: A three day old raising cookies. Raisin cookies are bullshit. I will eat them if required to because it’s dessert time and there are no other cookies. And I will say my willingness to eat them means that sometimes I went out in our family because no one else in our family will eat them under any circumstances. Really, even my children who will like they’ll eat any I mean, they would just eat a sugar cube if you gave it to them and were like, this is dessert, they’d be like, great dessert. But even they were faced with an oatmeal raisin cookie will just say, no, I’m good. And so there have been days when there were no other desserts in the house except for an oatmeal raisin cookie. And so I just eat it in front of them and I’m the only one who gets dessert. Now, granted, it’s a bad dessert. The. I don’t like, but despite tastes delicious, do you like oatmeal?

S6: Yes, oatmeal is delicious. I also like raisins.

S5: So now I will say the standard and the older I get, the more of a cookie snob I become, I guess, as definitely an adult thing like most of the packaged cookies. I agree. I like you. Yeah, very few like it has to eat like Oreos are special because they’re Oreos, they’re separate, they’re separate. But the rest of you girls are not like you used to think.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S7: Chips Ahoy. We’re good about.

S5: Actually they’re they’re actually right. And oatmeal cookies I think have always been a cookie that kind of had to be a step up. You still feel this way in the presence of a really good from a great bakery baked by somebody you know is good at making cookies.

S7: Maybe I have never had such a cookie. Maybe you have someone tell me where in Arlington, Virginia. I should go get that oatmeal cookie that will change my life.

S5: Please tell me where to get every cookie. If they ship, I can be in any. I love cookies so much, I’m just going to just send them to us and we’ll try.

S7: Email us your cookies at mom and dad. It’s late. Yes, we’ll pull them out of our keyboards.

S5: I will tell you one place here I’m sorry. Anyone who is local and does not understand the power of a good oatmeal cookie go to I think it’s pronounced Zoey is on National Boulevard. Zoids is like one of the best rated as like one of the best places to get cookies in Los Angeles. And it’s in a gas station. They’ve got gluten free and vegan and diabetic friendly options and stuff, too. But they’ve got like one of the best oatmeal raisin cookies I’ve ever had.

S6: I think it’s like a texture, like when I bite in, it’s one of the few things that I literally want to spit out into a napkin. And I like when when the only polite thing to do would be to take a bite of the cookie. I literally will, like, put it in my cheek and for until I can, like, put a napkin up.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S4: Would you guys like to hear something insane?

S5: My wife will not touch on oatmeal raisin cookie, but oatmeal chocolate chip, her favorite cookie, a lot of people responded that that was that was the common thread on the Facebook conversation I can get if it’s a phenomenal cookie and it needs to, but it has to be a dark chocolate like because oatmeal cookies tend to be on the sweet side to me, you know, and but like, I think the spice of it, like the spice to the cinnamon and nutmeg and a chocolate could play well together, but also have another cookie take for you guys. Most chocolate chip cookies would taste better if they had 30 to 60 percent less chocolate chips. I cannot stand a like now there’s some cookies that just kind of have to like. They’re just the way they’re made. They taste great having a lot of chocolate as most of them. I think there’s too much chocolate chip and not enough cookie.

S4: That might be the real actual adult cookie opinion that kids don’t understand. I feel like if you said that to a child, I’m going to try it when I go upstairs after we were born. I have to say that your child, they’re going to look at you like you’re from Mars.

S6: Yeah. They want some more stuff on them. I agree. I agree. Like a good cookie. Isn’t that it’s stuffed with other stuff. Yeah. Cookie itself is good and it has a little bit of chocolate. And you want good chocolate, right? Yes. Right.

S4: A good tasting cookie studded with just the right chocolate and a little bit of salt. Yeah. Now this all brings to mind the poll response that got the fewest number of votes yet was the most indisputably correct from Facebook group member. Erin, why on earth would you be arguing about cookies when you could be eating them?

S7: Who cares what kind it is? Thank you, Erin. I appreciate your input. And in a way, you’re right, as long as that kind is not oatmeal. All right. Thank you, listeners, for being part of Slate. Plus, we really appreciate your membership and we’re going to be back with you next week with another hot news debate. I’m not sure what it’s going to be about. Maybe American cheese. All right. Thanks to remember, Sia.