Like Judith Warner, writing in the NYT this week about her daughter:
... my elder daughter, Julia, is now in 7th grade, which means, of late, that she lives in a world filled with endless girl dramas of the most unfortunate and, alas, ordinary kind.Ironically, Warner is writing about keeping aloof from her daughter's dramas. But that is her home life. The daughter has "endless girl dramas," and the mother has adopted a "respectful distance" strategy of parenting. But part of that "respectful distance" is blabbing about the dramas in the New York Times. Well, that is a kind of distance.
As I watch her attempt to make sense of all this, I try to keep a respectful distance. There is no greater error, I’ve come to think, than for a mother to get down in the emotional mire of her daughter’s girl stuff. It is undignified. Inappropriate, even. And ultimately, judging from what I’ve seen thus far, it’s deeply toxic.
So I try to sit back and act like an adult.
I won't "get down in the emotional mire" with you. I'll climb up here onto my mainstream media perch where your problems can be summarized as "stuff," and the story will be about me and my distance (and — read the whole thing — what life was like for me when I was young).
Warner gives her daughter some modest cover even as she uses her for a jumping-off point. And, to be nice, I'm going to assume the daughter read the column and approved the revelation. I'm also going to imagine that there were other, more revealing column drafts that touched off one of the daughter's endless dramas and got rewritten.
And here's Hanna Rosin, writing about the nonproblem — supremely non — of having a husband who loves to cook: "The Rise of the Kitchen Bitch — Ladies, it’s time to reclaim cooking." I've already complained about the endless Elizabeth Weil article in the NYT about a husband who cooks too much, and Rosin — an admirer of the Weil piece — is following on with a my-husband-too. You have a man who (somehow) cooks too much? I have a man who cooks too much. It's the way we brag now. Whatever it is, pretend it's a problem. Rosin writes:
My husband is not a tenth [as bad as Weil's husband]. He is a food snob but not obsessive; he is fast and has dinner on the table by 6:45, in time for us all to eat together. The problem is more subtle and at least half my fault. Before we had kids, we both loved to cook and did it prodigiously and with great joy. After we had kids, everything changed. When we got home from work, we had the choice of cooking or hanging out with the kids. I always chose the kids. When I did cook, it was out of a sense of duty and obligation, while he continued to feel the joy.Ahem. So you have a great husband. You have great kids. You got a choice of cooking or playing with the kids in the pre-dinner time slot and you chose the kids — because you're a great mom as well as a great cook — and this went swimmingly well for both you and your husband and now... now you can even generate a popular column — it's #1 on the DoubleX "most read" list — out of how it's really this resonant modern problem.
This is the style of these relationship columns for women these days. Write openly about your own family. Of course, it's fundamental that you have a lovely, happy family — and that they won't get any less happy and lovely if you make them your material.