Self-proclaimed “relationship experts” almost always get a side-eye from me. When they’re not writing books educating women on how to successfully attract men, they’re on Twitter and other social media making patriarchal blanket statements about behaviors that will or won’t land you your perfect mate. It’s safe to say that I take the “relationship expert” title with a grain of salt, but recently I’ve realized: I’m becoming one of them – but with a twist.
Image: Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr
Being the eldest child of divorced parents, I’ve had many different roles in my family. Mediator, message carrier, therapist, friend, surrogate parent – I’ve done it all. One role I didn’t expect to take on was that of relationship expert – but that’s the hat I currently wear, somewhat against my will. Both of my parents are at various stages in their dating/relationship worlds. Both are a bit rusty in love. Both have recently learned to navigate the world of technology. And both of them look to me – the eldest child who’s well-versed in matters of the heart and is now representing for the married crowd – to lead them to success in their love lives. Yes, I’ve become my parents’ personal Steve Harvey. My forthcoming book will be called “Think Like A Parent, Act Like A Sexy, Middle-Aged Dating Machine” – get ready for it.
It started off innocently enough, with one of them asking me for style advice before a big first date. I thought, “Cool! I can give some fashion tips – fun and easy!” Then, conversations moved to “I got this new phone – can you show me how do to those text message things?” Next thing I know, I was getting calls about online dating, long distance relationships, trust issues, and my favorite: “He/she said XYZ. What did they mean by that? Is that good or bad?”
Image: Anthony Kelly via Flickr
“Mom, make sure you Google him before you agree to go out on a date…”
"Dad, one less spritz of cologne, and do up one more button on your silk shirt..."
As my parents tell it, they come to me for advice for a variety of reasons. One being that I’ve had a lot of different dating experiences – in contrast to them, who had a few serious relationships but not a whole lot of dating opportunities. Two being that they view my marriage as a successful one (pretty rare in my family), so they say “You must know what you’re doing!” Three, it seems that I’ve magically crossed the threshold of being their “child” to being their “adult daughter” – the acknowledgement of me being a self-sufficient grown-ass woman has added a new dimension to our respective relationships that I didn’t expect.
Back to my book idea. I’m not sure how other children of divorced/single parents feel, but I think there’s a niche market for us to jump on this relationship expert bandwagon. I’ve already plotted out chapters like “Being A Digital Cyrano: Helping Your Parents To Navigate Online Dating” – explaining how to handle requests from parents like “I heard about this site called BlackPlanet – is that a good one?” Also covered in this chapter: assisting parents with setting up online dating profiles, teaching them how to take good webcam pics, and giving them step-by-step instructions on the importance of Googling potential dates to see if they, you know, have warrants out for their arrest or something. Another important chapter will be “Dating In The New Millenium When You Haven’t Dated Since The Last One” - instructing