Saturday, September 6, 2008

Shotgun Wedding

"It is not easy to construct by mere scientific synthesis a foolproof system which will lead our children in a desired direction and avoid an undesirable one. Obviously, good can come only from a continuing interplay between that which we, as students, are gradually learning and that which we believe in, as people."

— Erik Homburger Erikson (1902-1994)


Erik Erikson developed the theory that there are eight stages of psychosocial development in a person's life. We may go through them systematically, and develop as well-rounded, functional beings. Sustain a jolt during one of the stages and a person can get stuck or develop in an unhealthy way. He believed that a person having psychological problems could revisit the related area of development, pinpoint the issue that caused the derailment and, voila' a healthy mental state is returned. (Yes, I'm severely paraphrasing here but it's hard to squeeze a semester of psychology into one paragraph!)

Now, take this theory and apply it to an entire family. Mom and Dad may be teetering between nurturing and over-extending themselves, while a younger child is at the stage of developing confidence and a teenager is trying to gain identity and direction. A nuclear bomb has nothing on a volatile mix of life stages under one roof.

Imagine that mom and dad are still married, both working hard, involved in their kids' lives, and (SURPRISE) mom is pregnant. Not only does the teenager have confirmation that her parents actually have sex (yuck) but now all her friends know and so does everyone else! In the search for autonomy, independence and setting her own direction, she becomes intimate with her boyfriend. Mom gives birth and immediately learns she's going to be a grandmother.

The situation is difficult for anyone but most families will find a way to quietly work out their problems. But wait! This family is now in a glass house and running for a spot at the white house - make that THE White House. Now everyone in the entire United States, and most of the free world, know what this teenager has been doing and she still has to put on a show at center stage.

As for the hockey player that was high-sticking without protection - he's not escaping and Maury Povich won't rescue him with a paternity test. Mom the Republican is a card-carrying member of the NRA and she's calling the shots. To salvage family values, demonstrate good will, and save mom's campaign, these kids are planning a wedding. Regardless of how they may feel, whether it's puppy love, true love or an experiment in love, these youngsters have an Elephant's gun pointed at their backs.

Good luck kids - you'll need it!

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