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Talking about racism, 'relationships take work' and pregnancy

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

On explaining to children why they don't see their racist grandparents:

Talk about racism as an impairment, a defect, an affliction, a hole in the soul; a fear-based, learned bondage to a sick culture, etc. over time. The child will face racism and will be better equipped with the knowledge that it is not about him, but an affliction in the other. When it comes to the grandparents, his father can explain (with genuine sadness) that his parents have this painful affliction from which this family needed protection.

A Mainer

On the old saw that "relationships take work":

I think of this in terms of maintenance vs. repair.

All relationships take maintenance, just like cars. For a car, you have to put gas in it, and change the oil, and wash it, and get the engine checked, and rotate the tires. If you don't, your car will stop running, no matter how good a car it is.

For a relationship, you have to treat your partner with respect and kindness (even when you're tired and stressed, or mad), consider their needs and wants as well as your own, pay attention to how they're doing, speak up, respectfully, when you have a problem, and listen honestly when they do the same. You have to make time and energy for you as a couple — date nights out, pursuing mutual interests. And if you pay attention to maintenance, when a serious problem does come up (and they do), you have the foundation to weather it.

On the other hand, "relationships take work" should not be used as an excuse to do the relationship equivalent of buying a 20-year-old beater with faulty brakes and no floor, and pouring all of your money and energy into trying to get it to run, because you're never going to get a reliable car out of it.

If your partner doesn't care about whether you are happy, doesn't regard you with respect, and doesn't think there is a problem (or vice versa), all the work in the world isn't going to make a healthy relationship out of the two of you. If you have to work to put up with them or enjoy their company in the early stages of the relationship, it's unlikely to improve.

As a corollary, sometimes it's a great car, but just not one that serves your needs. If you have four kids and live in a snowy climate, you'll regret buying that sports car, no matter how good it looked.


On being pregnant and not feelin' the glow:

Ditch any emotions as goals. So what if you're not "joyful"? Some people may get all aglow and earth mother-y when they're pregnant, but you're not hurting anyone by being practical. I personally would have put my fetus in a GestationPod 2000 if such things were safe, effective and available.

My kid is healthy, happy and loved despite my failure to get high off pregnancy hormones. Also, having ambivalent feelings about a situation is in no way an insult to others who desperately want to be in that situation. It's OK to dislike scrubbing your toilets even though some people don't have indoor plumbing; just don't act like it's the biggest burden on the planet, and be conscientious about who hears you complain.


Talking about racism, 'relationships take work' and pregnancy 09/01/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 1, 2011 4:30am]
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