My Disappointing Child

Der_verlorene_Sohn_Max_Slevogt.jpgParents get a pretty bad run in memoirs in what Gert calls the My Horrible Father genre. (That includes horrible mothers, of course).

Is it time for parents to fight back with the My Disappointing Child genre? Frankenstein is the first one that springs to mind.

What a book that all-time good guy Marcus Aurelius could have written about his son Commodus, the inventor of the sport of bashing disabled people to death in the arena.

Raskolnikov’s mum and dad. Just about anybody in Chekhov. Mr Bennet of Pride and Prejudice could have written a series, as could King Lear. Shakespeare’s history plays alternate between the My Horrible Father and the My Disappointing Child genres – but that’s pretty standard for royal families. Dare we suggest HM Betty Windsor has a book in her? What a publishing sensation that would be.

Other suggestions for this neglected genre?

Image: Wikimedia Commons Der Verlorene Sohn (Max Slevogt)

9 thoughts on “My Disappointing Child

  1. Genesis has the classic Disappointed Father meme, while the New Testament has its antithesis: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” (I quote from faulty memory).

    Scottish history has a classic Disappointing Father and Disappointing Child trope, as both the Old Pretender and the Young Pretender got it horribly wrong (again, blame any inaccuracies on faulty memory).

    Then, of course, there’s Henry II of England: built up the Angevin Empire stretching from Ireland to the Spanish border and then what happens? One son buggers off to fight in the Holy Land for most of his reign and then gets killed by a French crossbowman (or is it a cross French bowman?) while the other one proves to be a Bad King, as his nickname Lackland suggests. Thank goodness Pater didn’t live to see the mess his offspring made of things. (Again, faulty memory blah blah.)

    1. As Leslie points out, its all very well for God the Father to be well pleased, but poor old Jesus might have secretly had some disrespectful words to say about it all.

      Yes, royal families are set up for this sort of thing. We did have Charles and Di, after all, and Victoria and Bertie.

  2. Hard to win in these circumstances. You either disappoint or you are disappointed. I think Jesus was a good son. Look what his father put him through.

  3. In literature Polly Montdore from Love in a Cold Climate was a great disappointment to her mother for her choice of elderly lovers having been expected to make a brilliant match. Of coirse Lady Momtdore would be a strong contendor in a contest for Horrible Mothers.

    1. I had forgotten about poor Polly. And n the same lines,what about Angelica Garnett, Vanessa Bell’s daughter who married her father’s former lover?

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