Advice | November 22, 2019 5:39 am

Youthsplaining: These Are the Four Questions You Shouldn’t Ask Young People This Holiday Season

The holidays are stressful, let’s not make your inquiries

things you should not ask youth during holidays
Mike Falco

Typically, it’s the internet that goes over our heads. Luckily we have a college student on staff to help us navigate those times, but as the holidays approach, there are some things the youth would like us to know. This is what you shouldn’t ask young people this holiday season, youthsplained.

Depending on your celebrations and family dynamics, the holidays evoke a hodgepodge of feelings. If you see your extended family on a regular basis, maybe the idea of sitting down to eat a meal with them doesn’t make you want to gouge your eyes out with your neatly set butter knife. But for many of us post-grads, college kids and even high school students who spend time away from our families, the holidays are for catching up — which means fielding lots of questions that do make us want to pick up that butter knife. 

Many of us are at a period in our lives where we don’t have a clue what we’re doing. We’re still figuring it out, we’re scared and we’re super stressed out. And many of the questions you presumably — our aunts, uncles, or grandparents — ask us are questions that set off these stressors. For the most part, I can’t say I blame you. When you’re catching up, it’s hard to avoid the big topics — school, work, relationships. Typically, we are prepared for this, but these questions never fail to make us want to steal the spiced rum and hide out in the bathroom for the remainder of the evening.  

You may be genuinely interested in what we have going on, but you don’t want to be the family member the kids dread talking to, so let’s try to navigate this holiday line of questioning together. I know the questions I’m not particularly psyched for, so I polled my college-aged friends on the inquiries they hate during the holidays, and unsurprisingly, they were the same. Here are four questions to avoid asking your nieces, nephews and grandkids this holiday season. We beg of you. 

“What are your plans after graduation?”

Okay, for someone who has a plan, this question isn’t so scary. It actually might be one they’re waiting for you to ask. Sure, this question gives them the opportunity to finally brag about their accomplishments, but really it’s an opportunity to cross it off the list. Yes, we are all content, maybe even surprised, that I’m not a failure for the time being and don’t have to bring this up again at Christmas. 

But for someone who doesn’t have a plan? Ahhhhhh. 

Keep it simple and non-specific. How’s school going? Are you excited to graduate? are two less stressful questions that will typically gauge a further conversation about post-grad plans, or provoke a reaction that will indicate I’m going to die if we keep talking about this. Or to be super safe, you could just ask my parents before speaking to me. 

“Do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend?” 

I promise you, if there is someone I am dating and I want you to know, I will tell you. Much like post-grad plans, if I am excited about a recent relationship development with a person I deem viable and attractive, I will brag about it. I might even bring that person to dinner. If you’ve seen it on social media, that’s fair game, but if there is no indication from me, my parents, my siblings or my Instagram that I am romantically involved with another human being, do not ask me. 

There are only so many times in one night a single person can say, I just don’t have the time for a relationship right now. And if grandma overhears me drunkenly explaining what a “friend with benefits” is, she’ll stab me with the butter knife. 

“Are you sure that’s a lucrative career?”

If you want to make a comment on the major I chose, or the job I have that is neither “I’m proud of you,” “That sounds interesting, tell me more,” nor “Here is a million dollars,” I don’t want to hear it. 

Much like Millennials, we Gen Zers and are terrified of the instability of our futures caused by, well, you, kinda. We’ve inherited a dying planet, we’re already in mountains of debt thanks to the higher education we pretty much had to get, we will never own a home and, believe it or not, we often wonder if we can have a job we enjoy and also be able to regularly afford groceries. This question isn’t new to us. So while hearing it will certainly make our stomachs drop, it’ll also just straight-up piss us off, and we will 100% “ok boomer” your ass (behind your back, to our cousins). 

“Well, here’s what I would do…”

Not a question per se, but more a tip on unsolicited advice. A friend told me over the holidays she hates when her uncle tells her exactly what he thinks she should do with her life. This may seem like an obvious thing not to do, but all of us are guilty of telling people how we would go about correctly solving all their problems disguised as “advice.” This doesn’t mean you can’t provide any words of wisdom, but we know when we’re being talked at and down to. 

You want to be the cool aunt or uncle we go to for advice, not necessarily because you give the best advice but because we trust you, we enjoy talking to you, we know that you care about us and want us to succeed but ultimately, because you don’t make us feel like complete idiots. 

And if we do end up fucking up big time? You can certainly discuss it with the family behind our backs, but to our faces please offer words of encouragement. And lots of booze.