DEAR AMY: I am very good friends with a woman who was born in England but who has lived here in the United States for over two decades. She’s well-educated, gentle, soft-spoken, kind and fun to be with.
Here’s my problem – and I’d appreciate your input. Several times during the last few years, with no apparent blushing or hesitation, in a group of people we both know, she has described a movie, a TV show, etc., as being “too Jewish.”
Is this code in England for something else, like maybe “too New York-y,” or something?
I don’t know what to do or say. I think she would be horrified to have weirded me out as much as she has. I’m especially put off by it because my children are part-Jewish through my ex-husband’s family.
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Should I wait until she uses the phrase again and then just “call her on it” with something like, “I don’t understand. Can you explain what that means?”
It seems cowardly to wait (though I feel confident she will say it again sometime), but I am also enough of a coward that I am having difficulty imagining starting a conversation with her about it. I am leaning toward a brief, non-accusatory email, asking her to help me understand her thinking in using this phrase. Thoughts?
DEAR UPSET: In my experience, “Too New York-y” is code for “too Jewish,” – not the other way around. Maybe in England, however, the casual anti-Semitic code book is reversed (after all, they drive on the left-hand side of the street).
If you have a question about statements your friend has made and your questions linger long after she has made them, even to the extent that it affects your opinion of her and your friendship with her, then you should definitely ask her to explain herself. Many people would find this highly offensive, but at the very least, you should let her know how her statements affect you.
If you want to do this via email, craft a short note, read it several times, then wait a day or two before sending.
DEAR AMY: My daughter is almost 25 years old and applying to graduate school. She is a motivated self-starter.
As soon as she hit ninth grade, alcohol, drinking, partying and being crazy became an instant problem at her high school.
She was able to maintain her grades, participated in varsity sports and has now graduated from a prestigious Big Ten college.
We were the parents that did not support teen alcohol use, be it elsewhere or in our home. We saw it as our role to discourage, contain and minimize teenage drinking and drug use. I am a physician and my husband is a lawyer. We live these issues professionally and with studied insight.
Our daughter recently stated that her mother should apologize to her for being the “psycho-parent” who made the phone calls during those high school years (for example, to verify if a parent was home during a party). She thinks we embarrassed her and made her look bad in friends’ and parents’ eyes. (Our attempts to “create a village” of aware parents fell flat when other parents didn’t seem to mind teen drinking and partying at their homes.)
Our daughter does not get it. We were her parents, trying to parent effectively. Your views?
DEAR CARING: As the parent of several children in your daughter’s age range, I suggest this as a response to your daughter’s demand:
“Honey, we cop to being the psycho parents. And … you’re welcome.”
Please be aware that 25 is an age of transition, as some young people hang on to adolescence before they white-knuckle their way into adulthood. It is very common for young adults of this age to want to review their experiences with their parents, occasionally raking them over the coals in the process, but your job is to continue to be the loving, smart and supportive parents you’ve always been and not cave to a manipulation and a demand on her part.
You’ve got nothing to apologize for, so please don’t.
DEAR AMY: Let me weigh in on the subject of divorced fathers – and react to the question from “At a Loss” about why divorced dads drift away from their children over time.
As a divorced father who worked extremely hard to stay connected to my children, I appreciated your support for those of us who succeed, despite the odds.
DEAR DEVOTED: Staying connected to children over time on a court-ordered schedule is a heavy lift. I give credit to the parents who manage to do it.
Email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com.