Years ago, whenever my mom deemed it necessary to declare war on someone I or my sister was dating, she would execute a pretty ambitious—though usually ineffective—battle plan. Her strategy? To “prove” the person wasn’t right for us by systematically pointing out every last imperfection this person might have.
If character assassination is what you do when you want to discredit someone, then mom’s strategy was character napalm. She didn’t just destroy. She utterly annihilated.
Mom’s misgivings with our dates ranged from the questionably reasonable:
She’s too chatty, he’s too quiet, she’s too young, he’s too old, she’s a social butterfly, he’s too shy….
To the grotesquely superficial:
She has bad complexion, he has gray hairs, she doesn’t look very smart….
That last one is particularly memorable, by the way, as it was spoken regarding a girl she had just met and hadn’t spoken one word to.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my mom, and I know she only wants the best for me. But, this… this just struck me as being a tad on the overkill end of things.
So, I decided to take a stand one day. And I told my mom that if she did have legitimate concerns about the people we were dating, the legitimate concerns were usually lost in the firestorm of superficial complaints. Over the course of a surprisingly civil conversation, I gave her the extended, half-Taiwanese/half-English paraphrasing of the age-old saying:
Pick your battles, mom.