With Passover and Easter coming up, young adults’ thoughts turn to going home. For many, it also turns their stomach as they fear the questions well-meaning relatives will ask. They fall into four categories: housing, careers, relationships, and having children.
On the one hand, it seems that there’s nothing to talk about if you avoid the major basic decisions of life. On the other hand, there are many ways to connect over common interests — have you had any good hikes recently? Read any good books? Seen any good shows?
1. When are you moving out of your parents home? Are you still living in that awful apartment?
Implied in these questions is you’re doing something temporary or wrong. Some people love living at home. Others are making wise financial decisions to save money for a start-up or to pay off debt. And others are in transition and will move when they can. Young adults don’t need you to pressure them.
2. When are you going to get a real job? When are you going to make real money?
Again, you have no idea what motivates people to choose certain jobs or where they’re heading in their careers. Some of the most meaningful and best jobs don’t pay well, especially at the entry-level. Sometimes internships are required to open doors – even though they don’t pay. Sometimes low-paying jobs are the most valuable to society. Where would we be without teachers, social workers, and government employees? Besides, all knowledge is useful. One can learn a lot from any job. Don’t blame the young adult for the way society values people’s labor power.
3. Are you seeing anyone? Do you plan to marry?
While you as a relative may be truly interested, the young person may feel that the question is intrusive. The whole timetable has shifted, and lifestyle options have increased. These young people are working out their own expectations, even if they’re not meeting yours.
4. Have you tried… changing your hairstyle, losing weight, joining a fitness club?
Do we need to explain this one? Asking someone to change themselves implies that they are not adequate the way they are.
5. When are you going to have kids? Do you realize your biological clock is ticking? Are you planning to freeze your eggs or sperm? Have you thought about becoming a single parent?
Reproduction is a private matter. Stay away — you will be informed as needed.
Although you may be genuinely caring, your questions may be perceived as criticisms.
If you are a recipient of these questions, try to shift the conversation to something you do want to talk about. Or you can deflect the conversation by asking about their lives — for example, asking about what the dating scene was like in their day. You can say, “Thanks for asking, but nothing’s new. I am sure the grapevine will get to you if there’s any big happenings.” Humor is always a great relief. And if all else fails, suggest you watch the ball game together.