How To Deal With Your Conservative Parents

According to Patricia Lockwood, the author of Priestdaddy.

Illustration Hisashi Okawa
How To Deal With Your Conservative Parents

Patricia Lockwood is the author of Priestdaddy, an incisive and hilarious memoir about living with an arch-conservative priest father who just happens to love shredding on guitar and eating bacon by the pound.

When arguing is pointless, channel it into art

“Growing up, my dad dictated where conversations went. He was the one with the temper, and sometimes when you offered your opinion he would shut it down. He’s the explainer, the person to put the gloss on things. What can you really do about that? You don’t have a sense of your audible voice in a place like that, so for me it became about writing.”

Find someone to laugh about your family with

“My dad is this bewildering figure who hands you $20 and asks you to get as many Arby’s Beef ‘n Cheddars as it will buy. My husband, Jason, helps me to see my father as funnier than I can on my own.”

Make a game of it

“You make up games to make things bearable. Like, my husband and I will peek in the bath-room to see if this disturbing, perpetually wet rag [my dad left] is still there. These little obstacle courses make life more fun, otherwise you’re just jumping through tires for no reason.”

Detachment and solitude can help you maintain a sense of self

“Strong personalities like my father can be overpowering. Going back into my family home, I pretty much feel like a big, slightly deflated birthday balloon that’s bumping around the room. So I feel more like my own person when I’m on my own.”

Know your boundaries

“Eat enough meals with your parents that you stay alive but not so many that you get the feeling that your mom is feeding you club sandwiches directly out of her beak.”

Dress for success

“Either flaunt your hoe clothes Very Proudly or else smuggle them under a muumuu when you go out to avoid a confrontation.”

Show solidarity

“Give the family dog so many treats when no one’s looking that you feel like you’re getting revenge for every mistake your parents ever made.”

Priestdaddy: A Memoir is out now. Follow Patricia on Twitter.

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How To Deal With Your Conservative Parents