The Privilege of Parental Love

Allison Moon wrote a great post about a new kind of privilege she realized she carries.
Growing up I never had to wonder if my parents loved me. I never doubted they respected me or my choices. I never felt abandoned or ignored or dismissed. My folks have had to deal with a lot of information in their parenting lives. I’ve come out as bisexual, then lesbian, then queer, then polyamorous, then partnered to a queer, poly, cis-man. I think they stopped paying too much attention after “queer.”

...Listening to the speeches at the [annual LA Gay & Lesbian Center Gala], I became acutely aware of another privilege: parental love. Parental love means that I never had to apologize to my family for who I was and who I wanted to be. Parental love meant that I was only girl in my catholic school to wear pants, with my mom’s enthusiastic blessing. It meant that when I told them I wanted to quit my job to write a novel, they told me what a great writer I was and how proud they were of me. I means that they still send some of my blog posts to their friends to brag about me, even though a lot of my choices aren’t exactly easy for them to read about. It means that no matter where I am in the world, and what kind of life I lead, I can always, always go home to my parents if I need to.
If there's a single kind of privilege that I feel more definitely than any other, it's this. So many people I've known, including some of the closest friends and lovers I've had, did not have any kind of support from their parents. They had to make their way alone, without any kind of financial or emotional safety net from their families of origin. I've always had that net.

I've got a kind of certainty in my actions that I know leads to my success in many ways. I can approach jobs or relationships with the attitude that I will always be okay. I know that my parents will be there to catch me no matter what happens.

This saves me from an air of desperation that I know can undermine people in so many ways. I come off as confident and capable, which I know is attractive. I've been given a lot--jobs, good grades, forgiveness--as a result. Hell, probably the biggest reason I got out of my abusive high school relationship before it turned physical was that he couldn't succeed in undermining my relationship with my parents. They were too loving and accepting and too much a voice of reason against his attempts at control.

I think this privilege of parental love affects me even more meaningfully than the fact that my parents are wealthy. It wouldn't matter much what their net worth was if they didn't use any of it to support me. I've known plenty of people from families richer than mine who enjoyed less of the resulting privilege because their parents were unsupportive assholes.

This kind of privilege is emotionally fraught. It's even more awkward to talk about my supportive parents with folks whose families aren't like that than it is to talk about having money with someone who grew up poor. I guess, ultimately, emotional wealth does carry more weight than monetary wealth. I'm just glad Allison pointed it out, because I think the most important thing with privilege is to be aware of it and to use it for the greater good. Now maybe I can find ways to do that.


On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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