Over the years the storyline has covered the issues of non-functional families, first loves, break-ups, divorce of parents, alcoholic parents, devious Fathers, murder, lies and deception, rivalry, pre-marital sex, teen pregnancy, the trials of marrying while still students, drug addictions, stalkers and hostage situations. Sounds like your typical soap opera, right?
As a child I spent most of my early days at my grandparents while my parents worked. Most days were spent lying on the living room floor under the quilting frame in front of the TV. Grandma and Lucy Black, Aunt Jeffie Ashlock, Bessie Frost or another of the neighborhood ladies would gather round the frame and quilt while “The Days of Our Lives”, “The Doctors and “Another World” would play out a fictitious world before us. My first memories of soap operas include “Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives” and a then sixteen year old Julie Horton (Williams) lying on the beach in a bikini. Very risqué for television viewing in the 1960s. Having grown up watching these “Soaps”, I didn’t see any harm in allowing my children to watch similar shows. It is fiction and we all can tell the difference in real life and those of our fictional friends. Most TV shows push the limits of reality and normal lives but we tell ourselves “it’s just a show.” That’s all well and good until we can no longer tell the difference.
My line of work brings in clients who have tried to live lives very reflective of the fictional characters of One Tree Hill. The only trouble is that at the end of the hour their problems have not been solved by a hero stepping in to make things right. Every night in Tree Hill is exciting and fun but reality is that Clarksville is quaint and small town. Some find this boring. While fun at the time, looking for excitement often has repercussions, some lasting a lifetime. Our feel good, instant gratification society is reaping the consequences of our actions through fatherless children and welfare dependant families. Some are able to overcome these obstacles and better themselves. Family support and other resources help them make the best of their situation and obtain an education while raising their family in semi-normal conditions. But many end up in my office looking for the answer to all their problems. They have discovered that the partner responsible for the making of their child does not possess the qualities needed to be a Father. Others realize that their experimental use of drugs has resulted in a criminal background that now makes them ineligible for many of the support programs that they need to live independently. And then there are some that are raising children with disabilities that are a direct result of substance use while pregnant.
It is easy for me to stand on this side of 40 and say these things because I’ve never faced many of the temptations and trials our younger generation is facing. But I can offer these words as reminders of why it is easier in the long run to be content with normalcy over choosing excitement.
I feel certain that no soap opera relationship or fairy tale romance carries these traits but this is the definition of true love and it is something we all can have.