Arguing is important to cement relationships and it takes skill, discipline and regular practice. A bit like office fire drills. After a properly resolved argument, you will be more bonded and happier. Just like after office fire drills. But before you start, run through a few checks:
- Are skittish pets out of the room?
- Are hearing aids in place and switched on?
- Is there enough time before Antiques Roadshow?
Now you can start.
- The best arguments revolve around your choice (or lack of choice) of a partner. Things are quite subdued when your partner’s occupation is one your elders have never heard of, or their religion is one they’ve never heard of, or their sexual orientation is one they’ve never heard of. Also, some old people are exceptionally open-minded and forward-thinking, and it will take more to excite them. In these case, choose a partner from the other side of the political divide: this is (literally) your trump card.
- Second best arguments are about your parenting skills. Here you’ve got the upper hand: if your elders suggest that you’re not a good parent, they’re inadvertently implying that they haven’t done a good job on you. Now they’ve lost the moral high ground. You will offer them the chance to prove their superior parenting skills hosting your kids for two weeks, while you and your partner go on a little holiday.
- Third best arguments are about IT. They’ll accuse you – with the most hurtful words – to have caused this week’s IT issue when, last week, you purged their computer from the virus they had downloaded. Now it’s your turn to escalate the argument by setting up ‘parental controls’: as the name suggests, they are the stuff to curb parents’ reckless use of their computers.
- Fourth best arguments are about visiting frequency. Should their count of your visits not match yours, remind them that their memory is inexorably failing. Also, Einstein said that time is relative to space so the further away you live, the more time it will take you to reach them. Finally, you can inform them that elderly people enjoy great discounts on public transports: how about they pop round to yours, preferably with homemade jam and a willingness to cook, iron and babysit?
- Fifth best arguments are about attire. Your clothes can be too dark, too bright, too loose, too tight, or all of them at once. Should they complain that your clothes are too skimpy, inform them that lighter clothing is dictated by global warming, and that the clothes in their favourite store will soon be modified too.
Have you got anything to add?
My next post, out in two weeks, will be about family gatherings: great places to practice arguing 🙂