Once upon a time, a set of laws were handed down to people which included Honor your Father and your Mother. For many years after that, centuries, even, respect for parents became the norm. Reflected in literature and letters, multitudes feared the consequences of going against parental authority. These days, not so much.
Romeo and Juliet had to sneak around behind their families’ watchfulness because their love would not be allowed. Juliet’s father plans to marry her off to someone else, and when she refuses, her mother disowns her. In real life Venice, Guistiniana Wynne and Andrea Memmo sought each other out behind the backs of a very watchful Mrs. Wynne and all the gossips of the 1750s who sought to benefit from having a salacious tale to tell. Love overcame the natural inclination to keep the family happy, but not enough to bring about a happy ending in either story.
When Robert Browning wooed Elizabeth Barrett, she was a house-bound invalid with little prospect of finding love. Her authoritarian father did not want any of his dozen children to marry and leave him. Elizabeth was his favorite and most mourned in her bid for freedom. At the time of his death, he still had not forgiven “Ba”.
Near future romance Matched by Ally Condie gives us officials instead of parents, but the idea is that one road leads to the same life Cassia has always known while the other road leads to something new and possibly wonderful. New Adult romance The Mistake by Elle Kennedy (Number 2 in the Off-Campus series, which I totally loved) shows how difficult it is for a talented young college student to break out of the plans his father has for his future.
As I grew up without a constant father figure, many of my heroines have loving relationships with their dads. Either that or they are orphans. My Regency Banquet heroine, Ellen Curtis, goes against not only her father’s wishes but those of a strict social structure. Not only would she face physical punishment, she might be ruined and unable to make a good marriage.
My contemporary characters don’t deal often with parents, but in the second Surrey Ridge book, a mother-in-law and an elderly former boss figure prominently. And in the fourth book, should I be lucky enough to make it that far, the hero is under the thumb of his mamma, even though she lives on the other side of the world.
As the attitude toward parents has changed, the act of parenting has changed. Cell phones are amazing ways to keep track of kids, but also distractions keeping you and your child from communicating as much as in the past. As noted in the article linked above, things have often changed for the better, but some things it doesn’t cover include: You couldn’t invite a friend of a different ethnic type over at the spur of the moment. Sometimes not at all. You had no idea how much damage your car or trash incinerator was doing to the atmosphere. We didn’t think we could ever outfish the oceans. We could care less about the fragile shells of raptor eggs.
I’ve read a few books lately about children who were raised by hippie-type parents and that’s different in another way from all of this above. I read One Look by Christie Ridgeway and recommend it for the emotional changes in both main characters. Also, we readers were given a look at some characters in Ms. Ridgeway’s Rock Royalty series about children of the most famous rock group in the world all being raised in a compound in Hollywood, most by different women but the same father. That should make for interesting shenanigans.
No matter how you were raised and what kind of relationship you have with your folks, love might just be the only thing needed to make everything work like it should. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.