1. They live in the basement with no money, no aspirations, and no job prospects, happy to freeload forever.
2. They live in a distant city, happy and sufficient, and never phone us.
3. They do phone us, but only when they want something.
4. They marry a Republican. (Or: They marry a Democrat.) (Or: They marry a person who doesn’t give a damn about politics.)
5. They sell the Rauschenberg print we gave them as a housewarming gift and use the money to buy a gigantic flat-screen TV.
6. They vacation in St. Barts instead of joining the clan at the mammoth family gathering at Uncle Mo’s place in Bugtussle, Wyoming.
7. Every thoughtful gift we give them ends up on display in the living room of our daughter-in-law’s parents.
8. They decide to tell us all about how we ruined their childhood—at our 50th birthday party.
9. When we give Grandma’s heirloom wedding ring to our daughter-in-law, she has it reset in a tiny skull and uses it as a belly-button stud.
10. They go into professions that are immoral, dangerous, or overly religious. (Or: they go into professions that are immoral, dangerous, or insufficiently religious.)
11. When they visit, they wreck the guestroom with their sexual antics, and their Labradoodle takes a dump on the Oriental rug.
12. They somehow get the idea that we like porcelain angels, and that’s all they ever get us for birthdays, holiday gifts, and Mother’s Day.
13. When they borrow the car, they change all the preset stations from NPR to Top 40.
14. They don’t have time to spend Thanksgiving with us, just to stop by to drop off the vintage catamaran they want to store on our driveway.
15. When we publish humor pieces complaining about them, they are not amused.