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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Obama and Dr. Drew want you to initiate awkward conversations with your parents

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 4:39 AM

Of all the vague, creepy subject lines of e-mails from the Barack Obama campaign (“Last night,” “Hello,” “Tomorrow at midnight”), “Time for ‘The Talk’” — the subject of an e-mail I received last week — was probably the creepiest.

With only a cryptic clue as to what the campaign’s latest thinly-veiled plea for donations would contain, I opened the e-mail:

Dear Lauren,

If your family isn't already supporting Barack, it's time for you to have "The Talk."

With so many rumors and misperceptions out there, it's incredibly important that you sit down with parents or other family members. Tell them who Barack is, what he stands for, and why you're supporting him.

You may be the only person who can convince them.

…I might be the only person to convince them?  But how do I broach the contentious topic of Barack Obama’s presidency to my parents, who are like, so old-fashioned? Won’t this be difficult?

But it can be difficult to bring up the subject, so here are a few tips:

• Send an e-mail. You can scroll down for some talking points, but feel free to add your personal touch.

• Breaking the ice can be hard. Start by asking if they saw the debate on Tuesday and what they thought about it.

• Have some information handy. We have one-page summaries of Barack's positions on various issues. Look for the issues you know are important to your family.

• Share Barack's speech from the Democratic National Convention or Meet Barack, a video about who Barack Obama is, where he comes from, and what his values are.

Even after these tips, the prospect of talking to my parents about Barack Obama is still daunting. I can’t even think of a single thing to say in an e-mail to them. What should I do?

-------- Suggested email ---------


I've been thinking a lot about the election and how important it is to our family.

I've decided to support Barack Obama, and wanted to let you know why.

There are many rumors floating around out there, so here's some information about Barack's positions on things I know are important to you:

-- Economy:

-- Health Care:

-- Education:

This is probably going to be the most important election in my lifetime, and it's something I strongly believe in. So let's talk about it. Ask me anything.

After this unsolicited familial advice from the Obama campaign, I became more attuned to the fact that such guidance exists all around me.

I turned on MTV and caught the latest ill-advised reality TV show, likely from the same Freudian minds who created “Parental Control” and “Date My Mom.” In the new series “Sex … With Mom and Dad,” sexpert Dr. Drew Pinsky (of “Loveline” fame) facilitates “The Talk” (and not about the economy, I can assure you) between parents and their sexually wayward teens through a series of cringe-inducing “ice breakers”. While I’m not opposed to open lines of communication between parents and children, I think discussing preferred sexual positions with one’s father — a typical exercise on the show — can cause the kind of physiological damage not even a fake doctor of Pinsky’s caliber could reverse.

But at the end of the episode, I noticed something: a female voiceover saying “Want to talk about sex with your parents? Find out where to start on” I hoped I’d find another “suggested e-mail.”

MTV offered similar advice in initiating “The Talk,” like to use the media as a conversation starter. While the Obama campaign advises to mention the latest debate, MTV says to “See a movie like Juno, and use it as a jumping-off point to ask parents' thoughts on premarital sex or adoption.”

After learning on the Internet how to talk my parents, I came armed with this newfound knowledge in my most recent visit with my mother. We were talking about a new genetic test that can predict one’s susceptibility to breast cancer, and she mentioned that the test can actually make one’s insurance higher because it uncovers a “pre-existing condition.”

“That probably wouldn’t be the case under Barack Obama’s health care plan,” I said.

She looked at me through squinted eyes and laughed.

“I’m just telling you this because I think it’s important to our family.”

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