Broken Dreams. Essay on Parents and Teengares
In this story ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been’, Joyce Carol aimed at demonstrating the devastating effect of lack of parental guidance on adolescent teenagers. By using a character named Connie, she has actually accomplished her mission of demonstrating the issues faced by those in their adolescence and how it can impact negatively on them if parental guidance is not offered. It is a known fact that teenagers can be influenced negatively by the media especially if the content is not regulated by the government but even in the face of this, parents must play a pivotal role in ensuring that these adolescents are offered effective guidance. In Connie’s perspective she was influenced by movies.
Teenagers always suffer from the insecurity of their own self-worth. This makes them keep on looking at themselves just to reassure themselves that they are still beautiful. In the text, Connie, a fifteen years old girl had this habit of looking at her face in the mirror just to reassure herself that she was pretty. Probably it is this habit which drew her close to men. Although her mother was against this habit, there is no evidence in the text that she did anything serious to stop her daughter from continuing with this habit. “Stop gawking at yourself. Who are you? You think you are pretty?” (Oates 01).
This is what her mother would tell her but her response to this was almost appalling and also manifested lack of respect. Oates says, “Connie would raise her eyebrows at these familiar old complaints and look right through her mother, into a shadowy vision of herself as she was right at that moment: she knew she was pretty and that was everything. Her mother had been pretty once too…but now her looks were gone and that was why she was always after Connie.” (Oates 02) The way Connie responds to her mother and the comparison that she makes thereto speaks volumes in as far as the parental moulding is concerned. Ideally, parents should teach their teenagers to avoid being obsessed with their beauty in case of girls (Steinberg 50). Even if Connie’s mother was doing this, she never did it decisively.
When parents are busy with their careers, teenagers may go astray as they may seek attention by being aggressive. It is true that parents may spend a lot of time with their jobs and hence no time to spend talking, listening and trying to inquire about problems which affect their children. This is very wrong in as much as parents may be busy with their careers they should equally dedicate some time to their children (Werry, John & Michael 30). In the text, Oates informs readers that Connie’s father spent his entire time on his career and therefore had no time talking to June and Connie.
Even as Arnold came to make his advances on Connie but because no one was at home and this probably motivated Arnold to pursue Connie. She went out a lot for which the mother must take the blame. “She and this girl and occasionally another girl went out several times a week.” (Oates 04). It's true that Connie was the one who wasn’t interested in going with her parents but as responsible parents they should have reasoned with her as it was the 1960's and parents followed different parenting techniques which involved a more rational approach.
Some parents are just not concerned with giving their guidance to their kids. Connie and her friends used to listen to the kind of music which acted as an impetus towards their encounter with men. The father was not just concerned with warning his child against the danger of listening or watching media content which is meant for adults. Oates thinks this excuse cannot be based on the fact that the father was busy at work. So, the relationship between Connie and her father was not very strong and hence she never had that fatherly figure to guide her about interaction and socializing with men. “She only ever sees her father at supper time and that he didn’t bother talking much to them.” (Oates 05).
Parents fail to execute their responsibility by not warning their children, especially girls against having a soft spot for strangers when it comes to matters of relationship (Alexander-Roberts 23). This is what Connie’s mother never warned her against. In the text it can be seen that Connie easily associates with men who are strangers and this has its own dangers. These people easily convince her. Arnold tells her, “I promise it won’t last long and you’ll like me the way you get to like people you’re close to. You will. It’s all over for you here.” (Oates 264). This indicates how gullible Connie was in the face of men who are strangers to her. During the climax of the story is when Connie starts too feel scared and decides to get inside the house but it was too late. When she threatened them to leave by telling them she will call the police but Arnold and his companions did not took the threat seriously because they knew that Connie is too scared and is not mature enough to handle situations like that.
"You listening, honey? Hey?" "—going to call the police—"
"Soon as you touch the phone I don't need to keep my promise and can come inside. You won't want that."
She rushed forward and tried to lock the door. Her fingers were shaking.
"But why lock it," Arnold Friend said gently, talking right
into her face. "It's just a screen door. It's just nothing."(Oates 9).
The beauty of the story is that Oates did not explain what happened to Connie or her family, but the ominous foreshadowing given throughout the story suggests that things may have not ended well for Connie. It can be concluded that the lack of parental guide not only ruined Connie but also created a loophole which was exploited by other men. Going out with friends a lot during the week also influenced her badly because all she would think was boys which she saw at theatre or at shopping plaza in fact it was one of the trips when Arnold saw her for the first time and he said “Gonna get you, baby” and Connie felt uncomfortable as she turned away but still when the guy Arnold came to her house. Even though he was a complete stranger, Connie still came out and talked to him. This indicates because Connie was not trained properly how to deal with situations like that it is her parents who should be held responsible for their lack of guidance. Oates presents a classic example of how lack of guidance by parents may lead to adolescents going astray.
Alexander-Roberts, Colleen, and Colleen Alexander-Roberts. Adhd & Teens: A Parent's Guide to Making It Through the Tough Years. Blue Ridge Summit: Taylor Trade Publishing, 1995. Internet resource.
Oates, Joyce C, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press, 2002. Print.
Steinberg, Scott. The Modern Parent's Guide to Kids and Video Games. Lilburn, GA: P3, 2011. Print.
Werry, John S, and Michael G. Aman. Practitioner's Guide to Psychoactive Drugs for Children and Adolescents. , 1999. Internet resource.