S1: The following podcast contains explicit language.
S2: Welcome to Mom and dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, January 7th. The DIY Fix Talk Edition, actually, it’s usually Slate Parenting Typecasts, but today we’re just going to kind of hang out because we’re tired and we weren’t ready to come back from the holidays had we missed each other so much. Yes, our regular contact was gone. We’re just going to hang out together and you guys can just be here. So you guys are aware that four to four weeks I just had to hang out with my family. Yeah, right. You are like pretty high on the list of consistent adult content, like obsessive. And then you were gone, and you’re my only white friend. We’re happy to be here talking. Anyway, I’m Jamila Lemieux. I’m a writer, I guess a cultural critic or something.
S3: NamUs mom, she’s seven and we live in Los Angeles, California. And I’m so tired and I can’t believe the holidays are over.
S1: I’m Dan Kreiss.
S2: I’m a writer at Slate and the author of the book How to Be a Family and the dad of his 15 and Harpreet, who’s 13. We live in Arlington, Virginia. I’m Elizabeth, New Camp.
S4: I write the and family blog that’s Touch Gousse. I’m the mom to three little Henry who’s eight. Oliver who’s six. Teddy who’s four. And we live in Navarre, Florida this week.
S3: We’re going to be giving advice to other people, including a family where one parent feels that giving the sex talk to a tween is a violation of the kid’s privacy. And then we’ll be debating what to do about a husband who becomes a surly teenager himself when his parents are around. Surely his wife shouldn’t be obligated to play the cheerful peacekeeper with the in-laws. Right. Or she needs to just pick up the slack for her kids sake. Oh, boy. On our Slate plus bonus segment, we’ll be talking about the notorious being dead. And of course, as always, we have triumphs and fables and recommendations starting off the New Year.
S3: Do you have a triumph or fail, this is going to be you setting your intention for 20, 21, so whatever you have today is like what you’re going to have for the year.
S1: That’s a lot of pressure. But luckily, I have a triumph. Let’s hear it. All right. So, you know, when you’re a kid and then there are those things that your parents make you do and you’re like, when I have kids, I’m never going to make my kids do this stupid thing. Mm hmm. So my triumph this week is a triumph to me, but to my 12 year old self, it is a fail because I badgered my kids all winter break until they finally, finally, finally wrote thank you notes for the Christmas gifts that my family sent them. And the whole time I was just thinking back to 12 year old me, who hated writing thank you notes and thought it was the biggest fucking waste of time. And how I know that when I was 12, I was like, if I ever have kids, my kids will just get to play with their toys. They won’t have to thank people for them. I just remember it seeming like torture. I just remember sitting in my room for what seemed like a hundred hours that I could have been playing with Transformers or HIJOS or whatever, painstakingly filling out a whole card with words for my grandparents or. But now here I was like, you know, twenty five years later or so. And now I know how much grandparents just love that shit. And it is actually important to me in a way I just never dawned on me that it would be to make something like this happen. Even beyond that, I know that in fact, the way the kids struggle to fill up the space is in fact part of the charm for grandparents that they love it when the kid is like.
S6: I used your present on Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday, and I didn’t use it on Friday, but I’m going to use it on Saturday.
S1: Yes, they love it. It’s so great. So I sat him down with the lists of every person they got from my mom and my dad and my brother. And I put them to work. And when they swerved from the task, I hassle them to do it some more. And they hated it and hated me. But we mailed them out yesterday. And the good news is I’m certain that the whole time all they were thinking was what I have kids, I will never make them, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So I feel like I’ve passed on an important lesson.
S7: It’s like the perfect bookend, though, because they didn’t want to make the list to get the gift. Exactly. Also don’t want to write the thank you notes for the gifts.
S1: So I guess the truth is that at least I didn’t write the thank you.
S7: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
S8: I will say that one year my uncle Donald gave me as part of my gift, permission to not write a thank you note. He was like, here’s a here’s a little thing. But the big gift is you do not have to write me a thank you note.
S1: That’s really good. If any of my relatives ever do that, my kids are off the hook, but they won’t say, well, you know what I think really makes this such a great triumph.
S9: It’s legit. Like there’s yes, there’s lots of stuff we said I’ll never do this to my kids and some of those things we have not done or right. We were right. Some of it were right, you know, but like thank you notes is actually a really great life skill. It’s a thing you don’t do often and not like it. It’s it’s a social grace and it extends into email. It’s not that you’ll always have to sit down and write with your hands an uncomfortable letter. Right. But we have this thing in your head that you know that when somebody does a kindness for you, that needs to be acknowledged gracefully. So I think this is a big one. It’s going to get them a someday. I’m going to give you a job someday. Excellent. What about you, Elizabeth?
S8: Triumph or fail for twenty twenty one is a triumph, but it is a whole new camp. So I took the boys to a new park over the break and we got there and the playground was just like way too crowded. But the playground kind of sits with a creek and there’s some trees by the creek. And so I was like, OK, well let’s go play in the creek. Like, we can’t go to the playground because there’s too many kids. Nobody’s got masks on. Let’s go over the creek. So we go over there and they’re just like dead sticks galore. So my children are like, let’s build a hut. So I’m like, OK, so we’re building a hut and every parent on the playground is staring at me. Weird because they have found like some big logs that they need assistance with and I’m helping bring them over. And they build this like legitimate house. They cover it with pine straw. It’s like you can crawl in it super cool. They found some river rocks. They they spent like an hour building this house. Then they were playing around it. So some other kids kind of were coming over and I had to be kind of like, we’re social distancing.
S1: Just tell them masks only inside the house.
S7: Yeah. Yeah, masks only inside the hut. Yeah. But I had already, like, sent these kids away. So this mother comes over to me and she says other kids want to play in the fort too. And I said to her, we built the fort and she said, she said, oh, this wasn’t here from the playground. I’m like, no, no, my children just built this. And I said, we are leaving soon and you’re welcome to use it when we leave. But we’re social distancing and they put this together.
S8: So I felt good that I rejected some mom’s shame, but I was hogging the play equipment that I built that was apparently better than the playground equipment provided.
S1: And then I assume that when you left, you demolished that fucking threw all the stones back in the river.
S8: No, I mean, I certainly we would take it down because I feel like in a place like this, you know, that some of like we pulled up landscaping pine straw to cover our hut. So I would typically make the kids take it down. But no, I had told this woman that, you know, we would be leaving soon and then she could use she could use the fort.
S1: Good job standing up to that mom. That would have been very hard.
S8: I laughed. I just laughed when she started on a plane before I thought clearly you were not here when I was carrying the logs from the lake bed. But your mom from over there saw me and looked weird at me while I hauled these logs from the river.
S9: But that’s pretty awesome. I think that is also a very pleasant trial to begin the year with abducting mom in twenty twenty one.
S1: Very good. That’s what about you, Djamila?
S9: That’s huge. So I have a triumph. So yesterday I was talking to Nyima about being grateful for some of the privileges that she has, like specifically talking about my great grandmother not having graduated eighth grade, you know, and she was like, why? Why weren’t they able to do that? And I said, because I had to go to work, you know, like that there was a time in this country and, you know, she didn’t understand. Like, if your family required money, there was no law preventing you from being on the farm or being an. And so I said, imagine if I took you out of school now, just said you had to come work with me. I said even if it’s my sort of weird media job where I love you, that would suck for you. And she’s like, I don’t think it’s weird. She said, I think it’s cool, meaningful, necessary, possible and is special to me.
S10: Huh. Spoken like a future content creator. I mean, oh my God. I could not like I almost pulled over. I was just like because you say that again. It was just it was an appearance like, you know, if she’s learned how to lay it on thick on purpose, she’s gotten very good at acting.
S9: I will say that like it was just so like don’t say that, you know, explain to her that after that, that weird is not a bad thing. It just means different from the norm. Yeah. She was like, don’t make yourself small. She said some meaningful and it’s special to me and possible.
S10: I love that. That’s really sweet. That’s really sweet. Motivational speaking and her future. Look at us sailing into twenty, twenty one. Look at us best parents ever. This is why they let us tell other people to do what their kids. Because we’re so good at it. All right, let’s undercut that with some advice.
S3: Yes, but before that, we have some business. You cannot tune into my Slate live show. The kids are asleep tonight or any other night because it has been canceled. Canceled is not the appropriate word. I am returning to the live airwaves later this month with a new show, a new title, a whole new everything, and it’s going to be airing on a new night. So please stay tuned. And if you want to stay tuned to all of the latest and greatest shake ups in Slate parenting, check out this late parenting newsletter. It’s the best place to be notified about all things late. Parenting, including mom and dad are fighting. Ask a teacher care and feeding and much more. Plus, it’s just a fun personal email from our one and only Dan each week. So sign up at Slate that come back parenting email. Finally, if you want to talk with other parents, join our parenting group on Facebook. It’s super active, super, super active and it’s moderated so it doesn’t get so out of control. Just search first parenting on Facebook.
S9: All right. Let’s get to our listener question and time of the show. And we have our first one being read, as always, by the amazing Shasha Lanard.
S11: To your mom and dad, we have twin 12 year old girls who are talkative, inquisitive and thoughtful because we’re a queer family. We’ve talked a fair amount about sexual and gender identity. We’ve also talked about menstruation and how to manage their periods. But we have never talked about sex beyond some early conversations about how babies are made. They have never in recent memory asked us a single question about sex. My partner believes that our bringing it up is a breach of their privacy. She says they’re avid Internet researchers and can research on their own. She also wants to outsource these conversations to the Unitarian Our Whole Lives program, which is great but not operating nearby during covid to her. Initiating those conversations ourselves would make them feel their privacy is being invaded. They are indeed private kids. We haven’t seen their bodies in quite some time, but I can’t imagine not having those conversations with my kids, even if they embarrass them. And I worry that respecting their privacy will make them come to believe that sex isn’t something they speak about with us. I don’t need the full details of their future sex lives, but I do want them to be able to come to us down the road with questions or dilemmas or, God forbid, coercion or violence. For what it’s worth, we’ve talked to both of them since they were little about bodily autonomy. What do you think?
S7: OK, Elizabeth, what do you think? I think the Internet is a terrible place to learn about sex. I think that any time that your instinct is my children should learn about this on the Internet, you are wrong. That’s what I think. Just a universal philosophy. That is a good law. That to me says you don’t you are like nervous to talk about this or do this.
S8: So the first thing is, it seems like here, if the letter writer wants to talk to the kids, they should talk to the kids, like even if the other parent doesn’t want to be involved. I feel like all of the letter writers instincts about why they should not, like, leave the Internet to do the parenting is is to me true. Right. Like, sex is an adult issue, that it is very complicated. There is a lot of emotional things. It is not just kind of the physical act, which it sounds like they’ve talked about, and you need an adult to guide you through that. And I think that in and of itself is not a violation of privacy. There can definitely be a conversation about like how much are you going to ask your children about what they’re doing or their thoughts? But that is to me is very separate than having a conversation and having it be a a open thing that you talk about. I also want my children to be able to talk to me not just about like consensual sex, but also about like sexual aggression that might happen or that they might see. And so I think when you’re thinking like, oh, well, they can research that on the Internet and find out, like, how it works. Sure. But are you building a relationship in which when something happens, good or bad, that you can be there to help them break that down and talk about how to go forward? And I think you, as the adult in this relationship, have to be the one to set the stage for that kind of conversation. And if you don’t do it, somebody else is going to do it. I mean, I sort of been motivated by that in parenting. A lot to think. Like, I want to be the one who sets the stage for how my kids think about these things, like they’re going to go get other people’s opinions and find stuff on the Internet regardless of what I do. I at least want my thoughts about this, too, to set up a basis for how they think about sex or think about really anything like anything in. I want them to at least know that I have an opinion on it and here here is what it is and let that be the jumping off place as opposed to the vastness of the Internet.
S9: What do you think, Dan?
S1: I really like Elizabeth’s point, that it’s it’s not only a conversation about biology, and it’s not only biology that they are going to learn from wherever they learn it. It’s a parenting conversation about values and about what to do in difficult situations, which is exactly the kinds of things that parents should be talking to tweens about. It’s very hard for me to understand the partners case. And I wish that the letter writer had explained a little bit more what her partner means by saying that bringing up sex is a breach of their children’s privacy. Typically, a parent does not wait until a child initiates a conversation about an important issue to talk about it. If they feel it’s important. You don’t wait until your kids ask you about racism to talk about racism. You don’t wait until your kids ask you about whether they should touch an electric wire. Before you talk, talk to them about touching an electric wire. Like these are all things that most parents, I think, feel it’s important to talk about and start to build a basis of trust and understanding between you and the child so that when the conversations get tougher, you’re there for them and your instincts. Letter writer are right on that. These are conversations you need to have, even if they’re a little embarrassed by them at first, you don’t even know if they’ll be embarrassed by them, but your partner fears they’ll be embarrassed. And that embarrassment, it seems to her, is the same as a breach of privacy. So, yes, even if your partner doesn’t want to have these conversations, you’re well within your rights, too. But I also think it’s worth talking to your partner about what these feelings stem from and what she’s going to do at the time when the kids do approach her about something that’s important to them and whether she’ll be ready and willing to have those conversations with them and not just be like talk to your mom or talk to the Internet or whatever, like she needs to be a participant in this as well. And yes, the idea that the Internet is the solution to this is so bananas, I can’t even imagine it. It can only call to mind one of my favorite things that’s ever happened in our house, which is in our harbor, was much younger than 12. But I think she was maybe seven and she was on a computer in the kitchen. And we walked into the kitchen. And the instant we walked in, she shut the computer and we were like, oh, hey, what’s going on here? She’s like, nothing. I’m just going to go to my room and sit room and open up the computer. And she has Googled the phrase, What do a lady’s private parts look like? And I will say that actually her results were probably more useful than you might expect.
S7: But nevertheless, some really good search terms. Right? They could have gotten so much.
S1: I know. Yes. It’s true that her brilliant search was mostly on point, but in general, your kid is not going to find the information you want them to find. They’re not even going to find good or coherent information. And most likely it will be like at least mildly traumatizing. So pointing them toward that Unitarian resource is great. That is a really great program. You also have work to do, and you are right to acknowledge that you have work to do and you need to get your partner on board with this, in my opinion.
S9: So I will admit that I, too, laughed and laughed a bit at the suggestion that simply turning to the crack research skills of tweens and the Internet would solve this issue for you. But I do wonder if perhaps your partner is afraid of too much sex talk because there’s some anxiety about any possible fodder for an accusation of inappropriate behavior as a queer parent that if, say, what your children got at home was repeated to a friend or a neighbor and taken out of context, or that maybe there is some just super anxiety there and it could be perhaps personal anxiety or trauma or something resulting from how sex was or was not talked about in their home growing up. So I do think that’s something to be sensitive to while also acknowledging the absurdity of entrusting even children that are typically very good researchers who could find the proper things to search for if they were even told what those things would be to be searching for. It’s not as if you are talking about your partner issuing them a list of terms that they need to familiarize themselves with or concepts, or these are the things you need to look up or read articles about this, this and this. Right. It just the idea that they’re going to go find out about sex and there is so much sex to find out about on the Internet, even with the best of filters. So even if you think that you’ve created a situation in which they’re not going to end up on PornHub, this is like entrusting it to the kids at school on steroids. This is like let the kids at school explain it, but also throw in some potentially very creepy adults.
S10: Also, Ron Jeremy goes to your kid’s school. Right. There’s also a lot of resources out there that are just wrong like that. Wrong. That is wrong on both sides. Like you also may get a child that then scares themselves about sex because of all the bad, you know, possible ramifications or just because of the way it’s presented.
S9: Yes, that’s that’s the point that the concern is not just that they’re going to find pornography or explicit sex is that they’re going to find information about sex. That is untrue. That could be misleading about safety or that could, you know, as Elizabeth said, frighten them or traumatize them out of the ability to have a healthy sexuality, which is why she wants to encourage. So I would say, in addition to what my co-host have offered already, that your conversation with your partner really needs to perhaps start with how are these things talked about in your house growing up? Right. Because ostensibly, if these folks are saying their 30s, this might be the first generation of parents who have the ability to access the Internet. And that’s obviously wasn’t the same Internet. But, you know, did your parents tell you to go on AOL know? Did you have two of the families allotted one hundred hours for the month to go research sex? Or was this something that was talked about with you openly? Also looking to if you have friends, particularly other queer couples that have children that are older than your kids who’ve had to walk this walk before? I think they would probably be a really good resource for what this conversation looks like. Ideally, we should be having very similar conversations with all of our children about sex. Right, because I’m not just talking to my child about heterosexual sex, but you know what I mean. Like, the conversations about sex have always been about people as opposed to a boy and a girl. We’re talking specifically about sex and reproduction. And so and even then, it’s not necessarily a boy and a girl. I do think that it may be helpful, especially considering your partner’s hesitancy or resistance to having the conversation at all, to look to folks who’ve had a conversation that looks like the one that you all are going to have to have. I think that’s great advice. Thank you, letter writer. We appreciate you. And we’d be happy to have an update if you would like for us to consider your parenting quandary. She is an email at Mom and dad at Slate dot com, or you can post it in the Slate Parenting Facebook group and we will take it from there. Now we’re going to get to our second listener question, which is being read once again by the marvelous Shasha Lanard.
S11: Dear mom and dad are fighting. I’m the mother of two kids under five. But my question is really about my in-laws, or maybe it’s really about my husband. My in-laws are perfectly nice people. I don’t have a lot in common with them apart from being married to their son. But they are always warm and kind to me. When my husband interacts with them. However, he seems to revert to a surly teenager and is. Characteristically kind of an asshole pre pandemic, we’d see them a few times a year for a long weekend, always at their instigation. My husband is cranky the entire time and acts as if every little thing is a huge burden. He’s told me he finds his parents boring and needy and that he’d be fine if he never saw them again and maybe talk to them on the phone once a year. He has close relationships with other relatives of his and great friends from all stages of his life, so he’s not generally a misanthrope. This seems specifically reserved for his parents, although he does tend to bristle at doing anything out of obligation. What do I owe my in-laws here? What do I owe my kids in terms of a relationship with their grandparents? I’m tired of playing the constantly cheerful problem solver to counterbalance my husband’s grouchy, sullen demeanor when his parents visit or video chat with us when we visit them. I’m tired of being the one to single handedly take care of the kids in the early morning and carry on the conversation with his parents for hours while he’s sleeping in late to avoid them. I also don’t like the idea of perpetuating the stereotype that it’s women’s role to maintain social relationships in harmony and modeling that for my son and daughter. To be clear, my husband doesn’t expect me to play this role, though he is grateful when I do. Can I let that go, even if it hurts my in-laws and their relationship with my kids, or do I pick up my husband’s slack for everyone else’s sake? Thank you.
S9: Well, this is a deli in a pickle. Dan, what do you think, madam?
S1: I’m very sorry. OK, this is extremely not your job, you are putting yourself through the wringer to foster this relationship between your family and your husband’s parents and your husband sincerely does not give a shit about this. So we’ve talked before on the show. I’ve talked before about how sometimes we get stuck in these ruts with our adult parents. I think the joke we’ve made before is we end up when we hang out with our parents long enough, we end up reverting exactly to the age we were when they annoyed us the absolute most. And somehow we cannot escape that. That’s understandable to some extent on the part of almost anyone. Often that happens to any grown person and their parents. But it seems like what your husband doesn’t understand and needs to understand is that he is being an asshole not only to his parents, but to you. And he’s putting you in a horrible position. He needs to figure out what his problem is. And there are a lot of different pieces of advice I think we could give. And I am very eager to hear what you two have to say about this. But one thing I would ask is. I would be really interested to hear what your husband would say if you essentially called his bluff, if you said do you truly and sincerely want your kids to never see or talk to your parents again? If so, that is a really difficult path for us to follow. And if that is what you truly want, it will hurt me and hurt the kids and hurt your parents. But you are going to have to instigate that and make that happen. If you like a normal person, do grudgingly agree to let your parents see the kids sometime the way people do with parents, then you are going to have to find a way to make it not horribly unpleasant for me, not more work for me and for you to pull your weight as part of this marriage and parenting relationship and muster up the bare minimum of civility to get through these times without putting this incredible burden on the rest of us, because that is just a thing that partners have to do in a situation like this. What do you guys think?
S8: I agree that it is not her responsibility. And like in our relationship, something we’ve struggled with is incorporating families. And when we first had kids, I manage so much of that. And it wasn’t ever like our situation was never like this. But I managed so much of the like making sure everybody’s families got called, making sure all of that and it just one it became too much. And too, I was so worried about things like being fair. And I essentially had to say to Jeff, like, you have to manage the relationship with your family and I have to manage the relationship with my family. And so I think that conversation needs to be had with the caveat, though, of like. I think have this conversation, but you also need to evaluate if you think that relationship is worth maintaining, if regardless of your husband’s behavior, you think that having these particular people in your kid’s lives is important, and then what are you willing to do that is not too much of a burden? That sounds like there is a lot of like them coming or traveling to see the parents. And that is part of this. It is OK, I think, to drop all of that and say, like, you know, your son is kind of not willing to manage this or do this and you guys need to work that out. And maybe he needs some therapy about something that has happened with his parents. Like I’m interested. Why why this kind of relationship with an adult like an adult, an adult parents with your children present is OK, right? Like there’s all kinds of things like is this how you want your children to act like our own children to treat us when we are the parents? Because that’s what your modeling. I guess at the end of the day, though, I feel like the issue is really more our letter writer with her husband and saying to him than kind of, like you said, calling his bluff. But I guess sitting down and saying like this is unacceptable the way that this is happening and I’m not going to manage it. And then if he does say, you know, I want nothing to do with my family, then you have to decide, like, how much of that are you willing to accept and how much are you willing to take on? But I think that at that point, what you take on is then your responsibility in managing your kid’s relationship with their grandparents. And what are you willing to do there?
S9: I really want to know what is at the heart of this guy’s issue with his parents. You need to ask your husband, is there something that you do not know that you should know? Because otherwise the way that you’re behaving is incredibly childish. Like Elizabeth said, you’re setting a terrible example for our children. This is not how you’d want them to come into our home when we’re elders with their kids and behave, you know, if there’s something awful that they’ve done or something that he needs to work through, then you need to be prepared to do that, work with him. And if there’s no other reason other than him, just simply perhaps having a very different personality from his parents, different interests, if he just doesn’t like them as people, then I agree with you all that it’s time for you to shut down this work that you’re doing to keep together his family. And I think that you can find a way to make sure that the children, barring some sort of circumstance, we find out that these are awful, vile people to have access, have the ability, I think, encouraging letter writing. I know most kids don’t like doing it, but it really is a great skill. And this is a this is an instance in which, you know, being pen pals with their grandparents might be the best way to keep in consistent contact. Right. They won’t be around forever. There may come a point where they were to look back and say, I wish I did have more time with them. I did enjoy speaking to them. I did so like having keeping a connection between them, doing very frequent visits and, you know, you managing your family and to some level the relationship between the kids and the grandparents. But again, that’s not something that has to require a whole big production and it doesn’t have to take place in person. It could be a monthly phone call.
S7: I say I can’t believe that the house he’s like sleeping in and she’s like getting up and spending time with the parents and that the parents haven’t said anything to that. Like, the whole thing to me is is so just like, can he not see himself in this situation? Because someone that said this is what it looks like, like when we’re at your parent’s house, like you stay in your room, you know, like so.
S1: Well, the thing that strikes me the most about this letter is this parenthetical in here. To be clear, my husband doesn’t expect me to play this role, though he is grateful that I do.
S6: Clearly, he expects you to play this is you sleeping in to avoid talking to his parents and he’s leaving you to sit in the living room with them.
S1: And if he really thinks they are so terrible, what does it mean that he is happy to stick with the onerous task of dealing with these horrible people? Like that is not cool in about twenty five different ways. Yeah. And so, you know, I, I really am like, heartbroken at the total bewilderment evident in this letter. She simply doesn’t understand the person that her husband is becoming and his relationship seemingly only with these people. And so, yes, Jamila, you’re absolutely right that there’s some work that has to be done between you and your husband and and probably Elizabeth, as you say, between your husband and a therapist, to dig into what this means. If there is some something behind this behavior and if there isn’t anything behind this behavior, if he’s just being an asshole, then he needs to fucking stop it.
S9: The only other hint that the letter writer letter. Right. Gave that there might be some other stuff going on with the husband’s behavior, is that in general he doesn’t like doing things out of obligation. And so I wonder how that connects to his relationship with his parents. Perhaps his childhood was defined by constantly having to do things out of obligation, go here, do this, whatever, but that he feels comfortable just completely handing that over to you like this and said, is it that it’s just I don’t jibe with these people. We don’t get along or like being around them is so terrible, no one should have to do it. And yet I’m totally fine with my wife and children doing it. And I think that is the language that she needs to use. I think he needs to say, if these people are so bad, why are you OK with us being here? Why haven’t you asked? And we just shut this down altogether.
S8: I do really empathize with her, though, because I also like things to feel happy and I’m happy to try to make that work. So I am I want to say, like, I’m glad the letter writer like something has clicked and she’s like, OK, enough is enough going. I’m not doing this anymore because I do read that to be like, how now do I move on to kind of the next phase? And I think that is the point. And maybe you, me, like you said, maybe this obligation thing. And so putting the ball in his court will make it less an obligation and more like, well, he has to set up the visits and maybe then he can choose the place they’re going to branch or that whatever activity, maybe he just needs more control of the situation in which these parental meetings are are happening right away.
S9: I was going to say, is it that the things that they want to do are so bothersome for you, like you’re an adult? You know, obviously you have no problem sleeping through them. So you should be able to say, I would prefer to go to the Olive Garden as opposed to Outback or whatever it is that you all want to do. Like grub do.
S1: She writes back and reveals that it really just was that they always wanted to go to Outback, what he prefers.
S9: I hope so, too. I really do.
S1: That would actually be really easy to solve.
S9: Very easy. It’s really easy to solve. I think they are even owned by the same company. Right. Can still use your gift cards. The thing is your gift card.
S2: Get your take out, going, go.
S9: Well, thank you, letter writer. Our sympathies are with you. We hope things work out smoothly. And please send us an update.
S1: We are very pleased. Send us an update.
S9: Yeah. We have to know. We really need to know because this is this is unique for the listeners. If you want your unique trials and tribulations considered by the esteemed panel of the mom and dad are fighting hosts, please send us a letter to mom and dad at Slate dot com or leave us a note on the Facebook page where we get out of here. Of course, we’re going to do recommendations. Elizabeth, what do you have for us?
S8: So I am recommending this three principle. Of course, that is a thousand hours outside and you can print this tracker and track how many hours you and your family are spending outside. The nice thing I like about this is you do not have to do a thousand hours. You do not even have to do it this year. You can just see how long it takes you to get there. It’s something we do every year. It’s not really like a resolution, but we just print up this. They’re fun. There’s a whole bunch of different ones. You get to color them. You can go online and see there’s like people that color them based on the temperature outside that day. People do all kinds of crazy things. We just posters on the door. We color it. If a thousand hours seems like too much, it is just like a little over two hours a day outside. But if that seems like too much, I have another in the show notes like tracker that is just each day and just see if you can get outside for any amount of time each day. There’s all kinds of studies that show it’s good for you. And I like to say like there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes, but we really like to do it’s just like a good motivation. And when we see the chart and how many hours that we’re spending outside, we feel really good about it. And it can even be like, you know, doing reading a book outside. You don’t have to be active. It’s just about not being, like physically in your house.
S1: Just a quick reminder that the Dutch saying there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes, sounds totally different coming from someone who lives in Florida. Yeah, right. Well, Elizabeth, sending her kids out in hurricanes.
S9: That’s Mom ever. What about you, Dan?
S1: I am recommending a Web site called World of Snax Dotcom, a fabulous website I discovered in the run up to Christmas this year. We have a fun tradition with my wife’s family where we put things in people’s stockings and it’s a secret stocking Santa’s deal where everyone put something stuff ends up in your stocking from everyone, but it’s not labeled and you have to guess who gave it to you. So this year, my theme for all the stuff that ended up in people’s stockings was snacks from around the world. And I got them all on world of snacks. Dotcom, I got you can get like Filipino hot garlic corn nuts and Mexican alliot lollipops and hazelnut candy from Italy and Korean barbecue beef chips, which were the perfect gift for Lyra carnivore extraordinaire breezeways. It’s a very fun, slightly ramshackle site that appears to just be run by some couple in Santa Cruz or something. It’s about as far away from Amazon as you can get, but it’s totally delightful and you can find all kinds of fun things on it. World of snacks, Dotcom.
S9: Thank you. I needed more reasons to gain more weight.
S1: It’s great for that.
S9: I’m sure it is. So I am recommending I know the holiday season is over. Most of you might not have too many more toys left to buy, but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you all about healthy dolls. She’s a big girl. She’s not a baby doll, and they are described as natural dolls for natural girls. And they have for folks who are shopping for African-American girls or for black girls, I should say, oftentimes it’s hard to find dolls that don’t have hair that either is very loosely curled or is extremely straight or it’s kind of that tight biracial girl that isn’t, quite frankly, the most common hair texture that you see on little black girls. Healthy results have dolls that come in as wavy as A three B and as tightly coiled as a 4C. And they come in a variety of complexions and they’re absolutely beautiful. They have like a little cool hairstyle on the back. I love them. Nyima loves her. She has a Zoe doll. I think the other girls are Dorham, Arenda and Jeanna and they’re just super pretty. So if you have a little black girl in your life who needs a doll and who’s into hair and so on, perhaps you want to encourage to celebrate their natural hair, then I would suggest checking out the healthy dolls which you can purchase at. Let me be that healthy route’s dolls that come.
S7: They have videos on here.
S8: And how to do like all kinds of different hairstyles. Yes, the little guys doing them. Oh, my gosh, I love it. Great recommendation, this thing. OK, you just leave me while I browse the I know they’re super adorable.
S9: And they also have a hair styling book available for the website right there, 18 inches.
S8: So I think they also will fit all of the like 18 inch doll clothes across all brands.
S1: And what everyone means to say is that they’re the same size as American Girl Dolls.
S10: Yes. There you go, doll. Target Target has a huge section of 18 inch doll clothing. Yeah, yes. For American Girl Dolls. Yes.
S9: And the my generation, though, also very nice, though, that a lot of girls have that plays very well with American Girl dolls and healthy rostow’s, all the dolls for all the girls and all the boys and all the gender nonconforming kids. I am pro dolls for all children. I am a doll evangelist’s. Me too. Dolls, dolls, dolls, those dolls. OK, so one last thing before I read the credits, because it’s actually about the credits. If you are one of the kind souls who listens to the show all the way through the end, you might have noticed that one name sounds a little bit different at the end of the show than it does at the beginning or the new camp.
S4: And Danquah, Daniloff and Danquah and Vice President Jamilah Lemieux.
S9: So over the holidays, we got a question from a listener. The listeners said, It seems to me that Djamila doesn’t know how to pronounce Dan’s last name. And it bugs me to pieces. I can’t tell how she’s doing it on purpose. And if she’s not, then it just makes me cringe. When I normally skip the ending credits. I will listen to the whole thing just to see what she says is they’re not bothered by this.
S1: So first of all, it’s working because she listens to the whole closing credits. I need to start putting an Easter egg in my closing credits.
S9: I think everyone needs one now. So you guys have to come up with you’re going to work your hook. It’s funny because somebody can practice it to the Key and Peele sketch, because this happened to me recently with someone else’s name. You know, one Trader Joe’s had like, well, now they’re not doing this anymore, but they’re. See, you saw this. I think I saw that some years. Do they have a CEO? So and they said it was made by trader Jack. And I read it and I was like, oh, trader Jackie. You know, like. Automatically, I read it in African-American, so I’m not saying that Quia is a nod to African-American vernacular at all.
S1: I routinely mispronounce sort of Senegalese.
S9: I’d say I perhaps perhaps I thought it sounded a little bit French, maybe a little Creole, but I just do this one day. I said it in complete earnest about a year ago. And Dan was like, shyte is like your editor.
S7: I’m like, do you think I listen to the show to him, you know, like and at the beginning saying your name, I’m trying to gather my notes, you know, but like, I write your name a million times, but that’s reading it, you know?
S9: And so I like, wow, that’s honestly the only reason that I continue to do it is that I just think it’s better than Kleiss.
S1: I don’t disagree. The back story is that Djamila did it one time and I took umbrage. And so now she just does it, I believe, just to annoy me. But Danquah actually was for a long time, that was sort of my in the early days of the Internet, that was like my Internet name, the way we all had Internet names that were like our AOL Instant Messenger handle’s back when we would do that, before we realized that it’s much better to just have your name or email address. But the first writing job I ever got paid for was writing for television without pity, doing recaps on television without pity, and my name on television without pity. Where everyone had fake names was Dan Kwok JWH. So no letter writer. It does not bother me. I find it delightful, makes me laugh every single time. And it reminds me of the one time ever in the history of the show that Djamila was wrong.
S10: Doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen. I know we got to treasure those moments where we the treasure those moments.
S9: Well, there you go. So thank you for sticking around to the end of this show. It would be so ironic of today was just the day that she was like, I can’t forget it because I know she’s going to do it and it’s going to bother me. I’m just not. And so, like, she missed our whole shout out, but hopefully she heard it. And if not, you guys heard it. So thank you for listening to our show one last time.
S4: If you need advice, please send us an email. Mom and Dad and Slate dot com or post Facebook parenting group, which you can find just by searching for slate parenting and helping that we apply for membership. There’s a couple of questions to answer. And so if you don’t do that, probably won’t be approved. So ask the question. Mom and Dad are fighting is produced by Rosemarie Bellson Hardan New Camp. And then, of course, I love you.
S9: Hello, Slate, plus, listeners, thank you so much for all of your support. We couldn’t do the show without you, of course. And this is our first Slate plus segment for the New Year. So, yay, you’re still here. That’s awesome. I know that’s not how membership renewal goes, but let’s just pretend you came for a new year. Thank you. Thank you and welcome. So this being dad shit, right? The words being dad means something to you. You probably spend some time on the Internet over the weekend, you silly, silly person. And if not, Dan is kind enough to have a brief being that explainer. I am warning you that it’s fucking ridiculous just being dad in 30 seconds.
S1: Here we go. Let’s go. All right. So over the weekend, this guy named John Roderic, who is a podcast or he tweeted, this whole story is like this 19 tweet thread about this like big parenting victory he had where his daughter was asking for baked beans and she didn’t know how to use a can opener or anything. He was like, figure it out. The whole story. He was just like, figure it out. You can figure it out. And at one point she was crying and she didn’t get to eat anything. But finally she successfully opened the beans and they and cheers rang out and bells rang in heaven. And he was a great dad. And basically, you know, the old joke about how every day Twitter has a main character and the goal is to not become the main character. So on Sunday, John Roderic being dad was the main character, Twitter, because people went fucking apeshit and just called him out for what a dick he was being to his kid and how abusive it was that he didn’t. Feodor and plus, then they went through his Twitter account and found a bunch of extremely classless, old homophobic anti-Semitic tweets. And so anyways, basically, it was over for being dead. He was dead as far as the Internet was concerned today. The day we recorded on Tuesday, he apologized for those old tweets and for the harm caused by the bean story. So the whole point was that he was telling the story with himself as the asshole dad, as a kind of comedic bit. But he apologized very sincerely for the hurt that he caused and said, it’s time for me to step back from the Internet, which, of course, is what he should have done in the first place. OK, that is the story of being dad.
S9: The only thing you forgot that is important is that Ken Jennings of Jeopardy! Fame, they co-host a podcast. And so Ken, whose name has been in the press lately because he there’s a possibility of him replacing Alex Trebek as the host of Jeopardy! Defended him.
S1: So Ken Jennings got caught in the whirlwind. He has his own set of extremely embarrassing tweets from years gone by. Yes, absolutely correct.
S9: It was like a big pot of chili.
S1: It was. Luckily, the Twitter knows how to operate a can opener and opened up a can of whip ass on this guy. All right. So, Elizabeth, I want to hear your thoughts on Bee Dad.
S7: Oh, well, I just, you know, to me.
S8: So I’m all about empowering kids to do the do things for themselves.
S7: But I know it really sounded like something you would do, honestly, but I might show them how the can opener works. Like, I just I feel watching a couple tweets, I was like with him. He’s like, OK, I’m doing this thing, get the can opener open the can. But at the point that the kid is like, I don’t know how this works. And you’re like, look at the parts. Like I OK, in fairness, I would probably say, let’s look at the parts.
S8: But I feel like I would say let us look at the parts like I can’t, except if I have not taught this person how to use a can opener that’s on me, not on them to figure it out. Right. Like, I need to show them how to use the can opener.
S7: And let’s be honest, a can opener is like difficult. Like so many times it doesn’t work. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’ve never been taught to use the can opener.
S8: I mean, I did at the end of the day, I just feel like this whole thing was cruel and like so drawn out, like, why is it taking you six hours to open this can or let your child flounder around for that long? I just there is a point at which it is your job as a parent to, like, show them how to do the thing. If you had been, like, showing her every day for a week how to open to being can and she still can’t open up being can, like maybe then we can have a conversation about, you know, you need to learn to do this. But I don’t I just thought the whole thing with me.
S9: I find it interesting that of all the life skills to say, here’s what I’m going to be a total asshole, you chose something that has been rendered essentially obsolete or not leave it like it has been replaced many, many, many years ago by an electric version. It is unlikely. Well, yes, if you are out in the woods camping, you would probably not go out in the woods camping reliant upon canned food to eat if you did not know how to open the can opener. Right. But they do not have Djamila I.
S1: My understanding is you would bring along an electric can opener on the campus.
S9: Yes, I absolutely would. I would bring so many things when I go go camping one day I’m the. Get up the courage to do that to Glemp, would you bring canned food?
S7: No, that’s really heavy.
S1: So why do we have someone else carrying it then?
S9: You definitely bring canned food, even if this were part of a bit. It was a bad bit, as much as I like seeing an Internet villain get taken like. I feel no sympathy for him because this is just a jack, it just seems like a great person and you know, you don’t deserve to have a Twitter account, right? That is the thing that people can decide. Like, you know, it’s unfortunate because, like. All right, well, there’s really no place for you here. What I found really interesting about this is this is a rare time that like unless I’ve just done a really good job of blocking and filtering, I saw almost no one defend this guy. It was like everyone from every corner of the Internet, like the the black feminist and the Jewish comedians. And like everybody, I felt like everybody was just like not you. Sort of like Justin Sacco, the woman who tweeted the nasty thing about AIDS in Africa and then got on a plane. I have not ever seen there be such a reason. Even then, I feel like there was a bit more, you know what I mean? Like. Perhaps because these weren’t always like there was a lot less kind of hand-wringing that you usually see, but I feel like those are the only two occasions where, like, the villain of the day was everybody’s villain of the day, like even the free speech Jude Brose, like, who usually would show up, like, I just don’t think they gave a fuck about being that he was on his own.
S1: Part of it I think is like Twitter context collapse. Right. I will say that I to some extent empathize with being bad because there are definitely things in the book that I wrote or things that I’ve said on this podcast that if I presented them as a threat on Twitter with just the right kind of like asshole voice would definitely make me being dad of the day or at least would like, give me a great shot at it.
S9: I’ve been doing that on the Internet. Luckily, it wasn’t parenting stuff, but I’ve been there. So, like I said, how easily this can happen.
S1: And so and, you know, Twitter, as many people have commented, and I think people who are smart about using the service sort of innately understand Twitter wants you to feel like you are telling jokes to your close friends, but it is, in fact, engineered to put your words in front of people who don’t know you at all. Yeah, the way that that coincides with the seemingly unstoppable desire on the part of many people, including John Roderick, to just post to fucking post shit ends up being an explosive combination. And so, you know, as Elizabeth said, figure things out. You know, getting your kids to figure things out is actually a generally fine parenting technique. Often it’s better if you help, but often, you know, figure this thing out is a fine way to go. Also, you don’t necessarily need to turn this story that includes your kid crying about a thing you did in the Twitter content.
S7: Well, certainly not that much. Right.
S1: Like, if he had just posted like my kid doesn’t know how to use a can opener, said figure, but I would have gone viral at all, which was in fact that that was the goal was to go viral. Right. And so the story was engineered for maximum virility, which means that he adopted this asshole persona, which he read as funny, but which other people read is abusive. And I’m sure that his close friends who read it were like I was just John Bujon, just in the same way that my close friends who read the book at moments were probably like, that’s just dandy. And then but there were definitely people who read that book who were like, that guy is an asshole and is being an asshole to his kids. And in some ways they were right. And in some ways I made specific choices in writing the book to present myself as an asshole because that seemed like the best way to go had those moments. But on Twitter, it would have been very easy for them to blow up and for me to to be the villain of the day.
S9: That’s something that people, particularly people who aren’t writers or content creators, if you will, don’t consider that there is embellishment and hyperbole on, you know, that is designed to make this a more interesting experience for you as the person reading it. It is not always true to life. But, you know, we have to be mindful that this might not present me in the best light. And it’s one thing to say I’m writing this book. That’s my family and I have this beautiful experience. And so there are some moments where I kind of punctuate how I might have been an asshole, you know, because we’ve all been associate kids. I think that’s I think that’s the nature of the pylon that does bother me. I mean, I don’t I’m personally not a fan of piling on. I think there are things that are so egregious and terrible that they require a mass coming together and shouting them down. I think this is one of those things where it’s like there was some really nuance. Like I saw people take their time to kind of explain, like, here’s why this should bother people. And I think that for people that might have been confused or they were unclear as to why some of those, you know, some of that language was particularly upsetting to people who had been really abused growing up or being abused. I mean, they really abuse, but who had dealt with abuse in their childhood. And then things that I would not necessarily autumn I wouldn’t let certain things were like, yeah, I can see that, but I would have thought that wouldn’t have been where my mind went first. My first thought was, you know, it’s not typically funny. Hungry children. Right, like that.
S7: Like just like now she’s hungry.
S8: She’s had you as a parent are supposed to provide these things like that is one of the few things like, you know, parents are supposed to provide some kind of of sustenance. And so it’s not just the like. Let’s help you figure this out, but this idea that, like, I’m going to put it out there for everyone to read how you can’t do this and I’m not going to provide for you or help you in any way. I just think it’s like it’s just cruel and it makes a joke out of that cruelty. I think that is different than, like just being an asshole to your children. Right. Like, there are things we all do that are like funny to other parents because we’re all going through that.
S7: But if you like said, I don’t let my kid eat for.
S9: Hours, like even your friends would be like, look, I thought, OK, the idea of some child being hungry to the point and frustration, the point of crying and people not like maybe this was maybe he thought, I don’t know, it’s just like if he thought this was just going to be funny and not like I’m going to get the people talking and debating, then I’m really curious to know what his experience has been on the Internet to date.
S1: Maybe it’s been a really quiet one, obviously, because people hadn’t noticed is the guy has tons of followers and has a podcast. And and I think in general, what I’ve seen him pop up on my feet, it’s for generally for stuff not like this, like kind of grumpy guy comic bits, usually about politics, but often using a kind of similar sort of over-the-top voice. That’s what I sort of think of as like vaguely liberal Dennis Miller like rants. Right.
S9: In general, I think those work on the Internet for more than a hungry kid.
S1: Right. That’s true. But it’s but when you apply that to something else, often you get results.
S8: You didn’t think that you’re going to get I mean, we see this happen like even in the Facebook group all the time. The Slate Facebook group, like someone comes in, they post something that they think is either funny or, like, truly sincere. Right. About their experience that they would think is like, this is a funny story I’m sharing with you or this is something that happened. And like the general reaction to that is is the opposite. I guess I just feel like if when you put yourself out there for anything and I know we all experience this with, like what we talk about on here, you can’t anticipate that the reaction to that is going to be the way that you think is right.
S1: And Twitter is a unique platform that allows that reaction to become enormously overwhelming in a way that because of context, collapse in a way that it can’t really to a podcast except in very extreme circumstances, in a way to books. In a way, it’s I mean, it’s plus the Internet.
S8: It’s just like people want to come there and be mad about things. Like it seems like in general, people do not want to be on the Internet being like, what a wonderful display of parent. I mean, maybe they do and that’s over at Pinterest. But in general, it seems like it. People want to jump on the the people doing something bad or doing like look at this person who’s not, I don’t know, not doing well.
S9: And we’re more likely to engage with stuff we don’t like. That’s just how most people operate. You know, that’s how that’s why comment sections are so vile. It’s because we’re not likely to say, oh, my God, I love this. This is so great is you know what I think and what we think something is great. Maybe we click like on it or we retweeted, but we’re not as inclined to lavished praise on it, which is something I’m going to try to be more intentional about this year, not just commenting on something when it bothers me and saying less about things that bother me because like I was like everybody. Is that being that covered? What do I need? Just like what could I possibly need to say? And I think that’s one thing that could happen more as opposed to like it doesn’t have to be everyone having, you know what I mean?
S1: Like, OK, if your feed is already one hundred percent being dad, everyone you know is good.
S9: Everyone’s thoughts on being straight all the time, especially if you’re saying the same thing that everyone’s saying, you know, which was so weird about this. And it wasn’t that there was a lot of I mean, I’m sure there was I saw a little bit of debate, but for the most part, it was, well, you know what is terrible? Like we’re all clear on this being terrible and so and everybody’s clear on something being terrible. It’s I’m totally fine with not being the person to jump in on it. But again, I will say the idea of a child being hungry and crying is pretty incendiary. So I would recommend for you aspiring content creators, podcasters, joke tellers and tweeters. I would stick to political rants. They are a lot safer, believe it or not. Then making fun of the idea of treating a child poorly, rest in peace to being dead. Twenty one to twenty twenty one.
S1: The first victim. Twenty twenty one. Got him.
S9: We got him. He’s out here. All right. Thank you so much for listening. Slate plus fans until next time each year open your kids cans and keep some keep some things to yourself.