The Family Weekly: How the American Dream Leads Straight to McMansion Hell

Plus: How to negotiate with your kids like a business professor, and the age of “sharenting” is coming to an end.

(Wernerimages 2018 / Shutterstock)

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Shan Wang, newsletters editor

This Week in Family

Keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t make the average American family any happier with their quality of life, according to one new study. Owning a spacious and comfortable home can bring a homeowner joy, until a newer and bigger McMansion pops up in the neighborhood. But it’s not just comparing the size of a dream home that makes people unhappy: More space can sometimes mean more isolation from friends who live farther away and even from family members who can retreat to their own corner of the suburban castle.

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(Wenjia Tang)

In this week’s installment of The Friendship Files, three friends are so close that when one of them needs a new kidney, a friend who’s a match donates his. They talk about their shared love of golf, which brought them together; the difficulties of dialysis; and the joy of recovering with some of your best friends.
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It’s hard to negotiate effectively with a counterpart who responds with non sequiturs or a tantrum. Children aren’t the best negotiators, but it turns out most parents aren’t either. Yet there are some effective strategies for reasoning with kids. You can bargain, giving your child options or rewards for a desired outcome, or engage in a conversation instead of saying, “Because I said so.”
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Over the past few years, many parents have become accustomed to posting every cute, endearing, or embarrassing moment of their child’s life online. But as those kids start to push back—and are unlikely to sign up for their own Facebook account when they are older—are we facing another cultural shift around privacy and our digital identities?
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Thank a dad for his dad jokes this Father’s Day—and don’t forget that your dentist appointment is at tooth-hurty. You might groan or roll your eyes, but the classic dad joke is meant to be warm and cozy—the perfect relief from the edgy and dark humor that fills most people’s social-media feeds. Why are dad jokes so bad, but so good? As one English professor tells Ashley Fetters, “Your kids are embarrassed by you anyway, so the next best thing [to them laughing in earnest at your jokes] is to level with that.”
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Dear Therapist

(Bianca Bagnarelli)

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 woman asks for advice about her son who lives 15 minutes away, but won’t make time to visit her or let her see the grandkids. She doesn’t know what went wrong.

Lori’s advice: It can be a painful experience for a parent to be rejected by a child, particularly if there doesn’t seem to be a major issue causing the tension. But it can be harder still for parents to hear their children express the reasons they need some distance. Taking the first step, and giving your child the opening for a conversation, might help bridge it.

Meanwhile, you can send more enticing invitations. There’s a world of difference between “Will you be coming over for Easter?” (meaning: for our sake) and “Hey, we’d like to do something fun with you. Why don’t we take you all out for dinner at your favorite restaurant—or take the grandkids to the movies so you two can have some downtime?”

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Send Lori your questions at