I really envy all the kids with Gen-X or Millennial parents who actually got to grow up with realistic expectations when it came to sexual orientation, gender, or life choices in general.
Being the weird Gen-X offspring of a half-boomer/half-not marriage (my mom was my dad’s second wife, and he went for much younger on round two) I didn’t get those options at all. Nope. I got that Boomer Bullshit in a heavy dose, and it’s had an adverse effect on me to this day.
See, my parents’ basic expectations were this. I would go through school and excel (which I did) then go to college (which I also did) and major in something that would make me ton of money (which I didn’t, since I pursued the arts and not medicine, science, or business.)
Regardless of major, the next big expectation was that I would meet and marry some girl — either a high school or college sweetheart, but for god’s sake, before twenty-five, I would help her pop out at least two babies, and very early into the marriage we would have bought a nice suburban home. Well, I would have, based on my ridiculous corporate income, at a low interest rate, and with a 30-year fixed mortgage in a cheap suburban development.
My role in this fantasy: Chief breadwinner. Her role: to basically be my unpaid maid, servant, and nanny. (Note: My parents’ fantasy, not mine, and it was entirely based on the one that my own parents had lived in raising me.)
So we already have so goddamn many assumptions going on that would never come true. I was never going to find or marry that dream-girl, and while I could have done it with that dream-boy instead, every message told me, “Oh no. You can’t.”
The other big problem? My parents just assumed that I’d find a woman to take care of all the domestic shit, so they could never be arsed to teach me how to do any of it. Cooking? Cleaning? Laundry? Baking? Good luck. In their vernacular, these were not “boy things” at all.
Fortunately, I did manage to learn how to do laundry thanks to having gone to college with women, and I’d picked up cooking and baking by hanging out in Mom’s kitchen. Ooh… don’t tell Dad!
As for cleaning… yeah, I suck at that one because the alleged wife who was supposed to do it for me for free for life… oh, right.
But this is a short object lesson in how parents can easily fuck up their children by forcing unrealistic expectations on them. And, honestly, there’s one more really heinous fuck-up my parents committed that really borders on passive child abuse, but since they’re both long dead, it’s probably not worth bringing up because the arguments against them no longer have any teeth.
The important thing, parents, is this. Never limit your kids’ possibilities. Rather, expand their horizons. Don’t tell them who they’ll probably end up loving and marrying. Instead, ask them who they think they might love or marry, and then how they foresee their lives together playing out. Listen to the answers, and then encourage those stories and narrative and do you goddamn jobs as parents.
Sadly, mine didn’t. But I’m hoping that for of all my fellow Gen-Xers who are baby-makers, and all generations to follow, that we create narratives that give our kids the broadest spectrum of options possible.