Welcome back to Ask the Editors, where we here at Persephone do our best to bring together the multi-generational wisdom of our editorial team to answer burning reader questions. If you’d like to ask a question of your own, you can use this completely anonymous Ask Us form.
Our question this week delves into concern. Concern? It doesn’t seem all that bad, right? Its what loving and thoughtful people do for each other. Well, kinda. See, the holidays often bring out concern trolling, which is when relatives, coworkers, or awkward cocktail party guests sometimes bring up questions which are less about “concern” and more about “why haven’t you done this thing that makes you an adult or human in my book?” The concern troll feigns care when asking you if you have gained weight or why you haven’t settled down yet. Sometimes it comes from a good place. Sometimes no. Either way, we are here to help your remember that the best defense, is offense, and that we have some answers for you.
With the holidays, comes the age old questions that border on meddling in your life. Why aren’t you married? When are you having kids? Have you gained weight? We have all been there. So editors, how do you deal with the holiday concern trolling?
Sally J Freedman: I tend to give vague answers & change the subject, such as, “I’m fine! We’re all fine! Let’s have some pie.” If all else fails, I hang out with the kids, wherever they are, and avoid adult conversation.
SallySassyPants: Thankfully, my family is pretty god about not doing that, but for those that do, I just say, “Oh, well, I have a, b, and c going on.” Because, you know, my life is fulfilled without all of those expected things.
Meghan Krogh: It depends who’s asking. For the kindly aunt who really means well when she asks, I give a measured and thoughtful response, maybe with a bit of playful, “Aren’t there better things to think about?” thrown in. For the parent who knows better and asks anyway, a curt reminder of why it’s none of their business will suffice. For the sibling, old friend, or other peer from whom the question makes no sense, noogies are pretty much my standard response, in conjunction with derisive snorting and exclamations of “Why the fuck should YOU care?”
SlayBelle: “Actually, my plan to be a sophisticated spinster with a large collection of cats is on track for future success.” I believe, deeply, in the healing power of sarcasm. Also, in the healing powers of large glasses of wine.
Coco Papy: I used to respond, but now I just make a face as if someone farted and kindly excuse myself before I flip over tables. I don’t think flipping over tables is in the holiday spirit. Maybe it is.
Sara B: If its a question I don’t want to get into, I adopt an attitude of blithe ignorance. I have found that a bright, cheerful variation of “Because I don’t want to :)” covers most situations. If the questioner continues to push the issue, my standard response is, “Well, that is certainly something to think about…” and walk away. I also do a lot of hanging out in corners, talking to people who I know won’t ask me hard questions.
Luci Furious: Just because it’s family (I would never put up with such things from anyone else), I try to laugh/brush it off and them spend some time internally trying to get to the root of why they are grilling me about it in the first place. It is kind of like the cliche that a Dad shows his love by constantly asking how the car is running, or if you own a house if the gutters are clean, and so on. I try to frame their invasive/insulting/
Xfafafabulous: I deal with it by standing in a corner and hissing at anyone who comes within ten feet of me. And telling dirty jokes.
quesarahsarah: The kids question… I’ve been telling family I’ll think about kids when I pay off my student loans. Which is sometime around 2117.
Have we prepared you for the season? Tell us your worst and best concern trolling stories and how you deal. We guarantee it will be a good time.