Discuss the role of the parents in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On one level, it is really tough to judge any parents that had to endure what Connie's parents were forced to endure.  They left the home and when they return their child is gone.  Presumably, the child will not return.  Few, if any, can ever imagine what that pain is like.  I think that any assessment of their parenting skills in the story has to be tempered with this.  I think that there are some typical adolescent/ parent chasms.  Connie's mother seems to constantly criticize her for her superficial indulgences.  At the same time, there is comparison with the more traditional sister ("You don't see your sister using that junk [hair spray]." The father does not seem to be a very active figure in the story.  This might be more cultural, as the father who drives Connie and her friends to the mall picks the children up and doesn't ask any questions.  Connie is separate from her family when she decides to not attend the barbecue, probably one of the most fated decisions in the story.  It seems that Connie's parents are in the awkward adolescent/ parent dynamic where they want to give freedom to the child and yet criticize in the vain attempt of trying to forge some connection and have some role.  The lack of genunie link between parent and child is problematic.  In general, there is a lack of connection between children and their parents.  To a certain extent, Friend picks up on this and stresses this to Connie in his assertion that she is "not like them."  In the initial stages, this appeals to Connie when Friend comes by the home.  Yet, it is something that she ends up affirming when she recognizes the potential threat Friend poses to her family.  She ends up being the best of daughters to save her family at the cost of her own happiness.  There is no doubt that there is a relationship present, but I think that there might have been too great of an error made in not imposing greater restrictions on Connie to force her to gain a psychological footing or foundation that would have helped her repel the Arnold Friends of the world.

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