John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Parent/Child Conversations

How do you know the parent-child relationship has changed?


Think of those sweet conversations. Explaining the mysteries of where God lives; of how TV marketing works; reading Catcher in the Rye and smiling knowingly together at the bad words; chatting up sports and politics –as you, the parent, realize he’s closing in on you.

And then one day, there’s a small crack in the universe, and your role as big “P” parent to the little “c” child is whisked away.

For me it was a conversation in our kitchen yesterday.

Child: “So Dad, have you gone through a mid-life crisis yet?”

Parent: “Well…ummm. Well. I guess. I think I have.”

Child: “Think? Uh, it usually happens in your early 40s and your 48”

Parent: “Yeah. No…I uh…I have. Yes. I was in my ….probably late 30s. I was precocious (Laugh)”

Child: “Do you know why you went through a mid-life crisis?”

Parent: “Yeah. I mean…not really. I mean I do from a spiritual standpoint. I mean…look, when you get to mid-life it’s depressing. You either haven’t achieved your dreams so you are depressed. Or you have achieved them and they haven’t brought you the happiness you expected, so you are depressed. And so, you know, you recalibrate your goals and values for the second half of life.”

Child: “No, that’s not why. That’s an interesting explanation but the real reason is menopause.”

Parent: “Male menopause?”

Child: “No! Female menopause. There is a high correlation between when wives go through menopause and when men go through mid-life crisis. You are good with psychological theories but that’s the scientific explanation.”

Parent: “Well, but I had mine and mom hasn’t…I mean. What is menopause anyway? Exactly? I mean, I know …sort of but….the exact, precise, scientific definition of menopause?”

And that’s when the universe cracked.


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