Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ms. Theologian responds to parental criticism

Dear Miss Theologian,

I have a low-paying job that I love. I don't enjoy the paycheck, but I enjoy everything else. The problem is that every Sunday I have dinner with my folks, and they criticize my job. They think that because I went to college, I should have a job like theirs as bureaucrats. So what do I say to my folks?

--Dreading Dinner Tonight


Dear Dreading Dinner,

If you're a member of Generation X, this is an absolutely classic conflict between parents who think the system works and rewards the hard work and children who thinks the system turns you into a zombie, and then lays you off.

If you're part of Generation Y, you might secretly long for a job that has a lot in common with your parents (stability, benefits, even some monotony), but you want it in a hipper industry.

Ms. Theologian realizes that telling you that you share a classic conflict is of no help to you, except that she's trying to understand your motivation for continuously eating with people who criticize an important life choice. Is it because you think secretly agree with your parents? Hmm. In any case, Ms. Theologian will present two questions:

a. Why not have Sunday dinner with your girlfriend who seems to like you and your job rather than your parents who don't?

b. How do you currently respond to the criticisms?

As far as b goes, it seems to me that what you need is one of those great sentences that Ms. Manners or Dear Ann or Dear Abby seem to have at their fingers tips, like, "Gee, Mom and Dad, I know the pay isn't great, and that I went to college, and gosh darn it, I enjoy my work!" or "Golly, Mom, and Dad, I know that you didn't say that intentionally to hurt me, but your criticism of my job stings!" or even "Pass the potatoes," which can be useful if your strategy is just to ignore them.

You're welcome for dinner at my house, but try your girlfriend first,

Ms. Theologian

P.S. If you'd like to write to Ms. Theologian, send an email to ms dot theologian at gmail dot com.