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.

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  • Tynsia Allen July 13, 2015 at 7:45 am

    Well, when you have one that’s committed suicide, one in prison because her and the other used together, one married an abusive man who’s crazy I tend to get overwhelmed with disappointment. Oh did I mention the oldest has three kids that I now raise as my own? All I can say is ” but God” He certainly sees all we go thru as parents and knew it would be this way! He has taught me so much about boundary setting, learning to let go, and staying in today. I am a much better parent to my kids because of it. ” for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper.” Is a passage I give to them and hold onto myself for strength and encouragement.

  • Diane November 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Your daughter drains her 401k for her latest (in a string of) boyfriend, allows him to hide out from his child support obligations (by living in her home rent-free), and she blames the state of her finances on “the economy.” She escessively name-drops postings on social media sites of “free” movies she goes to, also excessively name-drops coupon-clipping systems she uses as a cover (she thinks no one will recognize this behavior).

  • IB June 24, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    When they visit, they only speak to you to let you know that something is wrong with the modem, or the toaster, or that the basement is flooding.

  • Jody Gillen-Worden June 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Again, you nailed it!

  • Andrew June 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

    re: #10, my mother didn’t really understand that i was a professional rapper until the local paper did an article on me. which wouldn’t have necessarily been a big deal if the article didn’t talk about things i said in my songs. i think it was about then that she wanted the money back that she spent on college.

    which is why when i became a professional poker player, i just let her think i was merely unemployed. there was less arguing that way.

  • Mark Lowe June 16, 2012 at 11:44 am

    This is wonderful!

  • Just One Boomer June 16, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Touche (accent over the e). How about: When (if) they visit, they stay long enough to put in a load of laundry and they call out over their shoulder as they head out to visit their local friends, “Yo, please put my clothes in the dryer when the washing machine is finished.”. They say “please” because you raised them right.

  • a beidler June 16, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Very funny piece. However my “perfect” children will never do any of these things!!! HaHa

  • RozWarren June 16, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Disclaimer: I would like to state for the record that my own adult son has never once given me a porcelain angel. And that my daughter-in-law’s job is exactly the right amount of religious.