Things that parents fear

I just recently am back at work today after spending the long weekend and Tuesday with my parents.  I had a really great time with them, even though we didn’t do very much.  Sure, we went to one museum and lots of restaurants, and played some card and board games.  I love my family.  But what I enjoyed most was just getting to sit and talk to them.

One of the things that came up – that always comes up –  is the significant other discussion.  This can be long and varied depending on who I’m dating.  During this particular visit, discussion revolved around my boyfriend’s family: where did they come from, what was their history, where had they lived, what was the general outline of their lives.  It makes sense at some level – it gives a better sense of Mike and who he is, and perhaps why he is who he is.  Still, it was rather disconcerting at times.

My dad describes the measuring and analysis and questioning in two ways.  First, no one will ever be good enough for his daughter.  Second, there always looms the possibility of a horrible, painful, devastating breakup.  And the second possibility only looms worse the the better they feel about the first.  Why is this worry so much bleaker than many of the others parents have for their children?  Sure there are little worries all parents have – about their children’s general health and well-being, about their ability to provide for themselves, about their happiness.

This blog quips that difficult breakups are a White Man’s Burden (and joy).   And there is a grain of truth in a bad breakup being something many of us love to hate, whether or not this love is a white man’s prerogative.  I guess I have a larger question in where it all started.  Is it just the melancholy of the Gothic novel?  Is it the unrequited love of the middle ages or before?  Does the whole thing have its roots in Greek tragedy? Did Marco Polo introduce the idea from his Asian experience with Indian serpent love-myths or the mournful courtesan poetry of China? Or is it something more than historical?  Is it something we need, or long to gripe and worry about, despite ourselves?

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