The Family Weekly: The Case for Not Saying “Hey Guys”

Plus: Parenting potential psychopaths, leaving kids at college, and cutting ties from an abusive mother.

A teenager looks at their cell phone
Darron Cummings / AP

This Week in Family

“Guys” has become part of everyday vernacular to address groups of people, but the Atlantic staff writer Joe Pinsker talked to a motley crew of individuals—teachers, ice-cream scoopers, debate coaches, urban planners—about their attempts to move away from the word. Often, “guys” is seen as a symbol of exclusion—a word with an originally male meaning used to refer to people who don’t consider themselves men. As linguists have pointed out, though, language is constantly evolving, and the debate over whether to use “guys” is indicative of how messy that change can be.

Parents of children with conduct disorder typically have isolating lives, writes Lillyth Quillan. Their kids’ antisocial behavior—which could turn into psychopathy in adulthood—often leads other parents to shun them. Frustrated with the lack of support groups to help her navigate parenthood, Quillan started a Facebook group of her own called Parents of Children with Conduct Disorder. Now at 800-plus members, the group has allowed Quillan and other parents to share resources, strategies, and the knowledge that they’re not alone.

Other Highlights

When parents drop their children off at college, they often feel a sense of dread about the passage of time and the new stage in their relationship with their children, writes Ian Bogost, an Atlantic contributing editor. However, he believes there are ways for parents to embrace the discomfort and improve that relationship.

A new study confirms what is already common knowledge: Teenagers are constantly on their phones. Yet most of them are not happy about it. And while 54 percent of teenagers say they spend too much time using their devices, parents say generally the same about their own phone usage, notes Joe Pinsker, an Atlantic staff writer. Both generations are constantly distracted by their phone use, and experts note this has “altered the texture of family life.”

Dear Therapist

Every Monday, the psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb answers readers’ questions about life’s trials and tribulations, big or small, in The Atlantic’s “Dear Therapist” column.

This week, a pregnant reader asks Lori if it’s okay to distance herself from her emotionally and physically abusive mother when it’s time for her to give birth. The catch: Her mother is a renowned nurse midwife, and the reader is being urged to “let go of the past.” She worries that her mother’s destructive tendencies will overshadow everything.

Lori tells our reader to trust the inner voice nudging her toward not having her mother at the birth.

Of course, this is going to require you to let go of a fantasy that many people with unstable parents cling to—the hope for a different parent. In theory, you want your mother involved with your child’s birth, but the mother you have also has the potential to ruin it. So you shush your concerns: Maybe this time, you say to quiet your inner voice, she’ll rise to the occasion and make this experience beautiful and special for me. Meanwhile, your inner voice is furiously whispering: Are you insane? Realistically, what are the odds? Your inner voice knows that unlike with the stock market, here past performance does predict future results.

Send Lori your questions at