Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fruit of Every Tree

Apple trees in my backyard. (Image copyrighted.)Robin of Dear Author posted an excellent, thought-provoking blog on bad mothers in romance on Romancing the Blog on Friday. It has generated a lively and interesting discussion in the comments section, too.

By "bad," Robin means "cruel, abusive, dismissively unfaithful, even violently and sexually perverse."

The crux of Robin's argument goes thusly: "If Genre Romance is a mirror for larger social dynamics, we know how much pressure motherhood comes with and how complex the dynamics between mothers and children, especially daughters. [...] is it a bit odd how many bad mothers there are in a genre that so strongly validates and celebrates domesticity and fertility? Or is that exactly the point? [...] I wonder whether the mimetic use of the bad mother type is mostly unconscious at this point, a vestige from other genres and other historical moments, or whether it is an intentionally placed element."

My comment: Those with the most influence usually are in the position of power to do the most damage. Even unknowingly and with the best of intentions, caregivers can greatly hurt children. It's a matter of perspective. What's straightforward, logical, and necessary for the future good of the child can be interpreted by the child as being mean, denigrating, and thwarting their goals. It's a rare parent and child who can safely navigate out of these difficult misunderstandings into a healthy adult relationship with each other. Hence the prevalence, in my opinion, of "bad" parents in fiction.

At the end, Robin asks the question: Why do you think there are so many bad mothers in Romance and what purpose(s) do they serve?