I’m guessing you’ve seen The Breakfast Club unless you’re super young or super old or a foreigner. If you fall into one of those categories, I’ll help you out. The Breakfast Club is a movie about a group of high school kids – all very different – who meet in detention one Saturday morning. It’s all about the roles we play and our ability to transcend them and ends with the following voice over:
You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal….
Does that answer your question?
Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.
Families are just like The Breakfast Club. Sometimes, we’re cast in our roles by birth order and sometimes we’re cast by some characteristic that we have displayed – even if that characteristic only showed in a flash. In my family, I was The Smart One, my sister was the The Beautiful One and my brother was The Rebellious One. My sister could have won the Nobel Prize and my parents would have commented on the way her hair fell on her shoulders. I came out as a big lesbo, shaved part of my head and wore combat boots and still wasn’t considered a rebel. My brother became a minister but still was seen as the black sheep of the family. In deeply philosophical terms – roles are a huge pain in the ass.
The obvious problem with roles is that they are limiting. You get typecast and, anytime you act out of character, someone is there to put you back in your place. Maybe you’ve always been the recluse who dresses in black but suddenly feel the urge to wear pastels – you’ll get the side-eye if you try. Maybe you trip over the door mat every single time you enter the house but want to be a gymnast – someone will say, “Oh honey…” Well, roles are dumb and we should break them into bits and set them on fire! Unless your family role is The Arsonist, then you should probably try a different approach.
Now that I am a parent myself, I have so many questions. Are roles inevitable? Am I typecasting my own children? Will I support them in trying new things even if I suspect they will be horrible at them? When they are in college/reform school/the homeless shelter, what will they tell their friends about my parenting?
So, talk to me. What was your family role and, if you have kids, how much money are you putting aside for their therapy?