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The topic of family dynamics is necessary and relevant to modern relationships between parents and children. It is an eternal problem that they often cannot understand each other, but the ability to forgive and accept is the key to address challenges. In his story called The Prodigal Son, Luke narrates about a man whose son claimed his inheritance and spent it in vain, but he confessed. Yet Do I Marvel by Countee Cullen and Mother to Son by Langston Hughes also discuss a similar theme. Even though the behaviors of parents or children cannot be understood instantly or may be offensive, the point is not to remember evil and celebrate reconciliation.
Family Dynamics: Children and Parents
God is people’s Heavenly Father, which can be considered as a metaphor to clarify the links between children and their parents. Cullen writes:
- With petty cares to slightly understand
- What awful brain compels His terrible hand. (33)
These lines show that the author doubted the righteousness of God’s actions as He admitted negative issues. Accordingly, the prodigal son disregarded the authority of his father, claiming money that was expected to be given him only after the death of this man. Such a similarity between the two mentioned literary pieces is representative of how often and easily children practice disobedience. In turn, the poem by Hughes focuses on the metaphor of stairways as a symbol of her difficult life and relationships with her son (187). Namely, it is critical to note that readers do not know what exactly her son did, but it is evident that something erroneous occurred between them.
The sub-topic of loss is another critical issue in the family dynamics, which follows the break in relationships. Hughes states:
- Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. (187)
The heroine described by this author was patient to “climb her ladder” in spite of a lot of difficulties she had to face. Presumably, many of them were related to her background of being an African-American female, and she anticipates that her son would also struggle. The Prodigal Son and Yet Do I Marvel consider lost in a different way: they encounter doubting the faith of a person in his father or son. For example, the man whose son made a critical error seems to be full of resentment and bitterness. His son not only disregarded him but also ate and worked with pigs – the animals whom Jews were not allowed even to touch. Another angle is given by Cullen, who explains the character’s disbelief in God’s morality.
The last stage of all the mentioned literary pieces is associated with acceptance and a deeper understanding of what their close ones mean to them. “It was meet that we should make merry and be glad: for this, thy brother was dead, and is alive again” (Luke 15:11-32, NIV). When the younger son, losing all the money, comes back and asks the father for forgiveness for his unworthy act, one expects that the latter will scold him and chase him away.
However, the father not only receives his lost son with open arms but also orders to kill the fatted calf in honor of his returned child. At the same time, the eldest son is outraged by the behavior of his father. He does not understand why his father never arranged such a holiday for him, who did not do anything wrong. The answer of the father explains that sometimes, it is needed to mislay everything to realize what matters to a person. This means that recognizing one’s sin and repent of it can be similar to accomplishing the feat.
Furthermore, the readers observe that parents should forgive their children and vice versa. The previously profligate son did not come back to demand more money, and the person who doubted God’s decision was pardoned by Him. For the father, it is a great joy and the actual resurrection of the son from the dead. Likewise, it is genuinely accepted by man that the human mind is incapable of understanding all the intentions of God, and it is better not to seek detailed explanations. The meaning of The Prodigal Son and Yet Do I Marvel is that by realizing unworthy behaviors and repenting of them, parents and children deserve compassion. Both the father and mother encourage their child to move forward and not to look back:
- So boy, don’t you turn back. (Hughes 187)
This line promotes support between the family members: even though one of them stumbles, it is not the reason to break the relationships.
To conclude, this essay discussed the connection between parents and children in terms of mistrust and loss. The point is that as a father; they should forgive and accept their close ones who offended and disregarded them, forgetting evil and rejoicing in reconciliation. The example of the mother identified in this paper shows that support and encouragement play a crucial role in creating and maintaining trustful and open relationships within the family. Thus, the family dynamics are represented in the three mentioned stories via the breaking and reunification of parents and children.
The Bible, New International Version (NIV). n.d. Web.
Cullen, Countee. Countee Cullen: Collected Poems. Vol. 32, Library of America, 2013.
Hughes, Langston. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes. Vintage, 2019.