‘Unsolicited Advice’ is the column where I offer advice to people who have no idea who I am and never asked for it.
Last week I “advised” a young woman who was worried about disappointing her 7-year-old daughter.
This week, my unsolicited advice takes us on a journey to the wokest regions of HuffPo Personal. Here, you’ll find an upwardly mobile – let me copy and paste her own profile here – freelance food, wine, travel and lifestyle writer based in East Hampton, New York.
Hannah is married and has a two-year-old child. Her life sounds pretty good, right? But no…horror! Hannah’s in-laws are *gasp* Trump voters! Even worse…they live in Florida.
They see themselves as tolerant, life-loving Catholics. But their tolerance extends only to people they know and understand ― and those people are white, straight, “American” people.
Hannah’s essay is so long, so self-absorbed and so overdramatic I couldn’t possibly summarize it all. Just know that it is everything you imagine it to be. Click here to read the whole thing. I highly recommend it. You can also read PJ Media’s Stephen Green’s take on it here.
I’ll do my best to sort this out for Hannah without regurgitating her entire scribe, but it will chew up some word limits so please bear with me….
It may be hard to believe that your 70-something in-laws don’t quite look at the world the same way as you do, but this is quite typical for older generations. If you’re lucky, you’ll be in your 70’s someday too. I know you think you’ll always be “woke” but you’re not experienced enough yet to know how naive that is. You still think your kids will grow up and think you’re super cool. I’m here to tell you that it will absolutely not happen. Your kid thinks you’re cool now because she’s two. When she’s 17 she will most definitely have you in the “embarrassing” category. And no matter how informed and tolerant and liberal you think you are, in 15-20 years what you believe now will look like bigotry. You will look like an old-fashioned, intolerant senior citizen to someone. You will.
You admit that your own family calls you a “hothead” (and they can’t be far off, given the unnecessary length of this self-indulgent tantrum) and then bitch at Grandma when she accuses you of choosing politics over family. You accuse your in-laws (rightly or wrongly) of being what you are yourself – intolerant and incurious. Advice guru Iyanla Vanzant always says that you hate the people who are most like you. I suspect you’re looking in a mirror, Hannah. You don’t like what you see.
You called your son a “drama queen” and then balked when Grandma corrected you to “drama king” (that you even include this as an offense says so very much about you). Well, isn’t Grandma right? Why do women have to get all the blame for being overdramatic? How about we make the guys share that label for a change? “Drama King” sounds quite progressive if you ask me. Maybe you’re the one who needs to change her gendered language.
You expressed indignation at the fact that when you asked them to stop watching right wing news in your living room, they moved to their laptops, in the kitchen, away from your offended eyes. How nice of them to accommodate your request for them not to watch the tv they like as guest in your home. Instead of complaining, they kindly moved to their own space and quietly continued. They sound like good guests. You sound like the hothead your family describes.
But worst of all, saddest of all, most pathetic of all is that you describe your in-laws as “evil” here: And what I need to be sure of, 20 years from now, when I look at my grown children down the telescope of their lives, is that I did everything to protect them from evil, everything to make their lives bright and happy and productive.
And then describe them as fundamentally kind people here: In real life, I like my mother-in-law. She’s unintentionally funny, and says “darn” and “fudge” and “shoot” instead of swear words, and she can’t remember her email password, not ever — even though I know hers by heart. My father-in-law and I share a lifelong love for the Yankees. He’s a former runner, and while I still like to say “current,” if I’m being honest, I’m a former runner, too.
Four things, Hannah…and then I’m done giving advice.
- You worry about how your kids will be 20 years from now? Well, let me tell you something – your daughter is 2. President Trump can only serve 8 years. In 20 years Trump will be gone, probably dead. And so may your in-laws. When they die, will you be able to explain to your child why the people who birthed their dad were too loathsome for her to see? Will she be grateful? Will she be glad you chose Trump over her own grandparents? None of this will matter. None of it. Your in-laws understand this and they’ve been trying to communicate it to you. You are so dug in, you do not have ears to hear.
- Your in-laws sound nice. And you sound like you love them. I never imagined that “Love Trumps Hate” would involve cutting off your parents from their own grandchildren. When they go low…you just dig the hole deeper, I guess.
- They may very well have some off-putting views. Hear my interview with Bridget Phetasy about my experience with our racist neighbors and how grace has the power to change us all if we lead with that instead of panic. Honey, you don’t know what bigotry is…trust me.
- You’ve just written an entire essay about what horrible people your in-laws are. I can’t imagine how devastated they must feel. They clearly love you (you’re writing about all the experiences you have together). They raised your husband. They surely adore your daughter. You probably will never find another person besides your husband who loves her more. Imagine your daughter grows up to write this same type of thing about you (and frankly, your attitude tells me that’s where all this is heading because this type of whiny intolerance seeps into parenting). You would be cut to the quick. This is nothing a loving parent should ever have to read about themselves…and over politics no less. You should be ashamed. You are not only wrong here…frankly, you’re being a bitch. I think you know this because you actually describe your friends and family as sort of brushing this all off. That tells me they’re probably pretty tired of your schtick. I think your in-laws sound like they have been extraordinarily tolerant of your views and accommodating in your absurd requests. They’ve led with grace. Their love has trumped your hate, and you can’t even bring yourself to keep this kind of childish thinking to yourself.
Hannah, go back to your in-laws. Apologize. Beg forgiveness. Don’t talk about politics around them and ask them to do the same. Then enjoy each other. If you continue down this self-righteous, bitter path you will absolutely one day be on the receiving end of a similar essay by your own child.
And while I’m at it- Mr. Hannah, put your foot down and tell your wife to get over herself. This mess is as much your fault as it is hers. Take charge; these are your parents and they love you more than life itself. Surely you must understand this more deeply now that you are a father yourself.
Let your in-laws pour into your children. Your short-sightedness is going to cost them one of the most important relationships of their lives, and it is disturbingly arrogant to think that your daughter will actually thank you one day for cutting off the people who love her unconditionally.
That’s my unsolicited advice for today. What would you tell Hannah about all this?
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