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Monday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Dec 05, 2023 11:26 AM

The topics with the most engagement yesterday included Millennials feeling abandoned, a deadbeat dad and graduation, feeling uncomfortable because of a lack of commitment, and marrying for lifestyle instead of love.

The most active thread yesterday was titled, "Millennials feel 'abandoned' by parents not available to help raise grandkids: 'Too busy'" and posted in the "General Parenting Discussion" forum. Let me be clear and say that I find everything about this thread to be disappointing. As longtime readers of this blog will know, I hate generational labels. So, of course I am going to dislike a thread that is premised almost entirely on two such labels (Millennials and Boomers). But, beyond that, this is a fake controversy entirely generated as clickbait. Frankly, I don't feel like reading this thread so I am not going to bother. What I will do is discuss the background of this thread and what led to random clickbait ending up as the most active thread on our website. The original poster wrote that "Boomers are too busy and galavanting around on vacations to help their kids and grand kids" and that this is "[a]nother example of boomer selfishness". To support this contention, the original poster provided a link to a Fox News article that basically made the same argument. However, Fox's article was not based on research or surveys or any sort of data that would support this claim. Rather, Fox based its article on an article published by Business Insider. Business Insider, in turn, offers no real data to support this contention, simply writing this "appears to be typical". Everything in the Business Insider article is based on a couple of anecdotes. A Boomer father who retired to Mexico is presented as a common example of Boomer parents. Moreover, that father actually complained that his children have programmed his grandchildren's lifes to such an extent that they have no time for him anyway. With minimal editing, this article could have been written with the entirely opposite premise, saying that children of Millennials are too busy and have no time for their Boomer grandparents. That would not have made this a better article, but it wouldn't have made it worse. It is simply not a very good article. The "trend" that it describes is entirely limited to a small subset of a small subset of a generation of grandparents. That's not a trend, it's an anomaly.

The second most active thread was the Gaza war thread which I've previously discussed. After that was a thread posted in the "Family Relationships" forum titled, "Should a deadbeat dad be invited to a college graduation?" The original poster says that her son's father, who apparently was not involved in the child's upbringing, avoided paying child support for 19 years and "[d]idn’t pay for a dime of my son’s college". Her son will be graduating in the Spring and she wants to know if his father should be invited. In subsequent posts, the original poster makes clear that, perhaps justifiably, she considers the graduation to be as much her own achievement as her son's. She raised him and paid for his college and she clearly doesn't want to share the glory with someone who had no part in either. The vast majority of those responding believe that this is a decision that should be left to her son and that the original poster should stay out of it. Some posters argue that the father has a right to be there and that the original poster's position is clearly wrong. But, at least one poster agreed with the original poster's sentiment and said that the original poster has no obligation to invite the father. Most of this thread just seems to go back and forth with the same arguments being repeated. The original poster is not really open to the suggestion that it is not her business and that the decision should be left to her son. So she repeatedly rejects the advice which posters then make again more forcefully. Sprinkled throughout the thread are anecdotal stories from posters who were previously in this sort of situation. They describe their own experiences and generally agree that it is up to the son. Several posters are concerned about what messages the original poster is sending her son with regard to his father and suggest that she may be sabotaging that relationship. The original poster denied that this is the case. A number of posters argued that the original poster is overly fixated on the the fact that she paid for college and disagreed that her paying for her son's education means that she has earned the right to decide who can attend his graduation. The bottom line as far as most posters are concerned is that graduation day is about her son, not about the original poster and not about his father. They discourage the original poster from doing anything that would change that emphasis.

The third thread that I'll discuss today was titled "Starting to feel uncomfortable" and posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. The original poster says that she has been dating a man for about six months and that things have been going great. However, he has "commitment issues" and has refused to "define the relationship". The man has apparently told the original poster that he does not want a committed relationship at this time, though the original poster feels that they are already in a committed relationship. This is making her uncomfortable because she would like to have clarity going forward. She asks whether she should talk to him about her discomfort or just end the relationship. After some back and forth between the original poster and those responding, it seems that the couple are in an exclusive relationship but that the guy simply doesn't want to use labels such as "girlfriend" and "boyfriend". The original poster's main concern is that while the status quo is is very good, she doesn't see a path forward. She seems concerned that a guy who is unwilling to be called a "boyfriend" is not likely to want to get married. Moreover, he has stated that he doesn't want children and the original poster has a six-year-old son. While initially a number of posters suggested that she break up with the guy, opinion turned pretty quickly to supporting just leaving things how they are. As one poster wrote, "Who cares about labels?" As long as they are in an exclusive relationship and things are going well, most posters didn't see a reason to change things. This thread continues with a polite and reasonable back and forth between those arguing that the original poster should break up and those arguing to stick it out. In a follow-up post, the original poster said that she had decided to end things. She then spent the rest of the thread defending that decision. The only real turmoil in the thread was caused by a poster, apparently male, who completely misrepresented much of what the original poster had written and then misconstrued her intentions. He posted a number of messages that generated significant pushback from other posters and somewhat disrupted the thread. 

The last thread that I will discuss today was also posted in the "Relationship Discussion (non-explicit)" forum. This one was titled, "Marrying for lifestyle not love as smart choice". The original poster says that the women she knows who married for a lifestyle rather than love are much happier than those who married for love. The second group has to work like crazy she says. The original poster asks whether those who didn't marry for lifestyle are "just huge dummies?" Responses are all over the place. Several posters say that they could not be married to a person that they didn't love. Others suggest that love is important, but so are other facts. As one poster wrote, "[t]he issue is that you can't marry a deadbeat for love." Others argued that those who marry for lifestyle reasons may be more practical generally and more likely to accomodate a lack of strong feelings. But, one poster told of knowing someone who married for money alone, but then ended up having an affair and destroying everything. Conversely, several posters told of marrying for love but then having the love go away. In some cases, their husbands were financially successful, but the money was still not enough for them and they are unhappy. Several posters argued in favor of marrying for compatibility more than anything else. "Love is a feeling. Feelings change. Lifestyles also change", wrote one poster. But, "[w]hat compatibility looks like is different for everyone." Quite a few posters suggested that both love and lifestyle were necessary for true happiness and several claimed to have married for both. However, one important element that repeatedly came up was the woman having her own money. Women who were successful and married a successful man they loved did not have to worry about marrying for a lifestyle since that could be provided by their own income. This seemed to several posters to be the best of both worlds.

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