When I met Max’s dad, I was 16 and living in London. He was 21, the rebellious product of a repressed English upbringing. We were both hedonists, devoted to smoking dope all night and sleeping most of the day.
Years passed and we became the most mismatched couple you could ever imagine. He developed a knee-jerk respect for any kind of authority; I reveled in rejecting it. He somehow became a Republican. I continued to be a bleeding heart liberal. He continually worried about What the Neighbors Would Think. I ridiculed his conformity.
For a long time, I considered this marital battlefield a benefit to our son. In my view, Max had been exposed to different philosophies and different sensibilities. This would enrich his thinking and give him a chance to decide for himself what he believed in…what kind of person he wanted to be.
Now I wonder how difficult it must have been to grow up with such conflict. I think that kids want stability more than anything, and they aren’t served by conflicting role models. I feel really bad about this, although I can’t change history. All this duality can only foster a terrible sense of conflict. Mom is a lazy hippie and dad is a tense workaholic. Their opposing natures aren’t yin and yang. They’re just a clash of belief systems that wears everyone down.
Max’s dad and I finally split up and I found the right husband, but to this day we need an interpreter to help us communicate, since we are from different planets if not galaxies.
Did any of you grow up with mismatched parents? Was there any redeeming aspect to this, or was it just torture?