Change the Subject – I Dare You!

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Many of our daily conversations are dominated by some combination of these four topics: Our homes, our partners, our children, and our appearance. This is particularly true for women, as social pressures drive us to focus on these things above all else. However, habit can become stifling, and it’s probably not healthy to fulfill any stereotype too well.

So here’s the challenge: Go one day without talking about your home, your partner, your children, or your appearance. Do what you must to make it happen. If you find yourself veering into a conversation about these things, change the subject to one of your other interests. Plan ahead to keep yourself busy with or distracted by something new!

It’s just one day. It may not even be hard. But it might be interesting, it might be fun, and it might add a little self-appreciation to the things that already matter to us. And who knows? We might find we have even more of interest in common than our everyday lives suggest.

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12 thoughts on “Change the Subject – I Dare You!

  1. Does garden count as part of home? Because in the spring that’s a key part of the discussion.

    Other than that, I don’t talk about any of those things on a regular basis, at least not beyond the internal discussion of chores and organization. I talk about work a lot.

    But then, I’m odd. And I don’t really belong on a Geek Mom board. Is that really what most women talk about? Maybe I do talk to very few women outside certain professional and social contexts where other subjects are dominant.

    1. Really, I think anyone participating in my little challenge should do so in a way that satisfies and interests them. If it would interfere with your garden to not talk about it with others – which is possible given how much one’s community can influence the outcome of one’s garden – then you should keep talking about it. The challenge is only for one day, though, so I’m not sure it would have a great impact on your garden one way or another.

      But the real challenge is to step out of our routines for a bit and seek value outside our comfort zones. You may not talk about your hair and clothes or your family a bunch, but what about meaningless small talk? I don’t know about you, but I could probably save a lot of time at work if I skipped those idle chats about nothing, even just for one day, ha.

      Alas, most of the women I work with talk about some combination of the four subjects I mentioned, and apparently nothing else. I try to draw them into more interesting conversations, but it always turns into kid talk or shoe talk.

      Of course, the geeks I know – moms and otherwise – tend to talk about all sorts of things. Which is great! The consistent habit I’ve noticed, though, is to tie those varied things back into homelife again.

      There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just fun to shake things up a bit. That really all this is about. You don’t have to be a geek mom to challenge yourself to have conversations that are unusual for you, and you don’t even have to challenge yourself in the way I’ve described.

      And you should feel welcome to comment wherever I’m posting, Phiala! You’re a friend!

  2. As a SAHM I talk to my friends about my home and family all the time and I can’t imagine even trying not to. They are the most important parts of my life, so why would I want to focus my efforts on anything else?

    1. I can understand that. But if you don’t want to stop talking about these things for even one day, you might still enjoy looking into subjects outside your normal interests that might contribute something of value to your life. It could be fun!

  3. A very interesting challenge. One I don’t think I could succeed in unfortunatally. Which kind of saddens me. I am a SAHM of 3, with one child dependent on me for mobility and non verbal. It sometimes feels like all I talk about is my children, husband and home (fashion not so much). I do have plenty of internal conversations about all sorts of different stuff but the narrowness of my day to day world sometimes saddens and frightens me.

    Love think even thinking about how narrow our converstaions and the lives these converstaions reflect is a really interesting idea. A bit like trying to focus our thoughts on what we may be not seeing because we spend so much time concerned with our small circle of life.

    Thanks Kay for the challenge, even if I only get as far as contemplating it. 😉

    1. I think it works as a thought experiment, too. And like I said, I don’t think we should stop fulfilling our responsibilities or stop enjoying our homelives. It’s just fun to take a look at the other good things in the world. You never know, you might come across something that makes your life easier or more fabulous. 🙂

  4. Oh, not a challenge, Kay! I’m always going on about whatever history thing I’m into. “Hey, that reminds me of the ancient Greeks! Did you know…”

    or yesterday my friend’s eyes were glazing over as her kids kept asking me to tell them another story from my current RPG adventure game.

    The challenge is how to get a conversation going on those topics, not just an aside from me and then my friends go back to talking about their families. Movies and music can usually work pretty well. Though I have gotten some good conversations from women when I talk about how poorly women were treated in Athens way back when. I’d rather be a Spartan woman any day. Actually, Lesbos was a nice place too.

    (Feel free to take that topic, people.)

    1. Yeah, it definitely helps if you’ve got compelling outside interests. And don’t get me started on how hard it is to get people talking outside their ruts! There’s one person at my dayjob with whom I can talk about almost any topic. But she’s a geek with a lot of diverse interests, herself. The rest of my coworkers look like they’ve wandered into a treacherous middle school social encounter every time I bring up a subject they didn’t read about in the celebrity news.

      Of course, that’s one of the nice things about hanging out here. This place may be Geek MOM, but there’s more to us than meets the eye.

  5. As a domestic engineer myself, *a-hem*, it is awfully easy to fall back on the “safe four” as subject matter, simply because one is literally saturated with it all day long. And it is easy to fall into when I’m talking with other moms because… well… that’s what we have in common. However, I try to make it a point to keep up with what’s going on in the world, reading the newspaper, watching the news, hitting science sites, etc, just to steer conversation away from the Safe Four and talk about something different! Even if I’m talking to my husband!

    I have to say, I’m grateful my daughter is a teenager now, and well able to talk about whatever has come up in her classes, or geek out over something we’re both passionate about (biomechanics), or anything that keeps my brain nourished as well as hers. It’s far too easy to let the mind stagnate when you’re in a rut!

    1. That’s exactly right. We don’t stop being people when we become moms. And even women who aren’t moms can get stuck in a rut. It’s a big wide world and we’re in it! 🙂

      Also, YOU ROCK for engaging in science talk with your daughter!

  6. My friends, my partner, and my kids all enjoy talking about human (and animal) behavior, politics, hobbies, books we’re reading, and those fascinating ways that our dissimilar influences connect.

    What I find particularly important about your challenge, beyond the development of one’s wider interests, is the goal of deepening friendships. I was dismayed when friendships I’d established with fellow moms over our kids’ activities waned once our kids became more independent (the post playgroup years). Then I realized that despite the laughter we shared and closeness we felt, almost all we’d talked about were our kids and relationships. Our friendships hadn’t grown in scale. I say “yay” to your challenge!

    1. Oh yeah, it is a bummer when motherhood-based friendships fizzle. And then there are our adult friends withour children of their own; mom talk is great, but it doesn’t fit every social niche.

      And I think you may set me on to another challenge. Something like “Introduce a new topic into your intra-family conversation each day for a week!” I talk a lot of science with my son, but we could definitely expand our dialog. Thanks!

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