Parents: Wanted, unwanted


I don't open my children's mail, so today I was pleased to see that the correspondence from the college of my daughter's choice was addressed to "The family of …" so I opened it.

Inside the envelope was a friendly letter to me, the parent, telling me how delighted they were that my daughter would be joining their community, and assuring me that I am "a partner in an extraordinary educational experience." This made me feel very good: "a partner."

Also enclosed was a "Family Information Questionnaire" for me to complete, which also made me feel warm and fuzzy, like I will be part of a big family.

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Less warm and fuzzy was the home page of the "Allentown Women's Center" that I also happened to read today. To read it was to feel that I was eavesdropping on a private, behind-closed-doors conversation with my daughter and not me. It read in part:

"Pennsylvania law requires that a parent or guardian give consent for a patient under 18 [to have an abortion]. If a patient is unable or unwilling to get a parent's consent, our staff can help her meet with a judge to determine that she is mature and able to give consent for herself. This is called a Judicial Bypass."

All of which has made me a little schizophrenic about who I am as a parent. What am I? Am I a "partner"? Or am I an obstacle to "bypass"?

Hey, maybe I'm a "partner" when there might be big purse strings involved, but otherwise maybe I am not particularly wanted in the room.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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