There's a lot of griping about us out there. Grown children writing in to the Carolyn Hax's, Ask Amy's and Social Q's of this world, whining about the way we behave or the unkind or ungracious things we say. Sometimes, we may mean one thing, but it gets taken another way. The world is full of mis-cues.
I was struck by this one, described by a grown son complaining about the way his mother talks to his wife. The issue: The Mother keeps making critical remarks about the son's wife, who is a pediatrician and the mother of small children. The Mother is critical about such things as the Halloween costumes (They're store bought!), help being hired to clean the house ("It is a real shame that people can't take the time to clean their own home anymore.") and dinners not made from scratch ("It isn't a homemade dinner if the chicken came precooked from a store.")
Who would like to have those kinds of comments rain down on your head when you're working full time and raising children? Or even if you're not working outside the home. Carolyn Hax suggests the son have a conversation with his Mother that lets her know that when she makes these comments she denigrates his life choices and that when she compares his family life to the one she created as a young mother, she's "entering cats in a dog show." Hax also points out that the Mom might be defensive about the way she lived her life--that she may feel like an anachronism--and may need reassurance.
All true and all helpful. I see an additional point. Many of us may take to the snark attack when we feel left out--unconsulted, tuned out, useless. There are better ways to work out those feelings. I'm not sure what they are--but giving in to attacks isn't helpful. Nonetheless, the Mother has some of my sympathy. We're there but we're not; we understand the pressure of their family-raising lives but good luck getting that understanding across. We're not as out-of-it as they may think. But when we impose our own Good Housekeeping Rules--well, see notes to self [in the column to the left]: Our ideas about how to do things "the right way"are better left unspoken. Who really cares who made the Halloween costume, anyway? My kids had to pull together their own looks. As for the store-rotisseried chicken--we'd starve at my house if those were eliminated. My mother, however, would be aghast. And she would probably let me know it. Cue up another mis-cue.