The Parent Trap–it ain’t so adorable up close and personal


parent trap

The Parent Trap was a 1961 movie about “teenage twin girls who scheme to get their divorced parents back together.”

Ever so cute when you are about 9 years old. By the time I watched it with my daughter I needed Gravol to get through the cheesy parts.

The 1998 version starring Lindsey Lohan was a little easier on the stomach.

“Identical twins, separated at birth and each raised by one of their biological parents, discover each other for the first time at summer camp and make a plan to bring their wayward parents back together.”

It was fun in a “cuddly little kitten” way, not in a “look how cleverly I   pick my nose” way.

But, it was still a little disturbing. The manipulation. The deception. The grandiose expectations.

When any kid starts slinging that stuff around, watch out.  You may get caught in a Parent Trap of yourself.

After living on a college campus for twenty years, I think I’ve heard it all. 

Kids who complained that “my parents

  • won’t pay my cellphone bill.
  • make me work for my tuition.
  • get mad when I’m too busy to help around the house.
  • don’t understand when I need to ‘road trip’ with my friends  instead of getting a boring summer job to pay my bills.”

After a few months or a few years, these cantankerous parents come to visit. They don’t seem so contrary up close. More like intimidated or confused.  Caught in the trap of their child’s expectations.  

In an age of self gratification and intense psychoanalysis, young adults need to conduct themselves wisely.  By all means,

  • deal with issues of the past.
  • work on mental health.

But, don’t disregard the efforts of flawed but well meaning parents.

  • Don’t despise their love just because it is not perfect.
  • Resist the urge to “punish” them for not being as mature or as spiritual as you think they should be.

When I was young, I became overly critical of my parents. I disregarded the sacrifices they made for my benefit. 

It was a trap. A trap without the movie-cute ending. Just hurt and pain and misunderstanding.

Do what I should have done. Refuse to manipulate and guilt your parents. Resist berating and belittling them for their weaknesses.

Determine to be

  1. honest.
  2. forgiving.
  3. grateful.

You will be glad you did, especially when you have children of your own.

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