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My Parents Are Polar Opposites; Here’s How I Forged My Own Beliefs in the Crossfire

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

My parents are like fire and ice. And not in the classic television trope, dynamic duo type of way. They’re more like that weird period in October when you don’t know if you should wear a t-shirt or a puffer jacket. It’s confusing, and you’re usually left wishing you had chosen something in between. Growing up amidst this kind of polarity, I often had trouble choosing whose advice to follow in times of uncertainty. But everything changed when I learned how to craft their unique wisdoms into my own happy medium. When I look in the mirror, I see hints of two people I adore; and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

the great mindset shift of 2020

Ah yes, 2020. What a time to be alive. Amidst the chaos that was my senior year of high school, I had a lot of time to reflect on the push and pull of public opinion. The pandemic further illuminated the political divide in the U.S., and its effects were haunting. How can we claim ourselves to be the United States of America when our three most popular news channels assert conflicting realities about the nation? In a society that applauds political affiliation, it has become increasingly difficult to remain an independent thinker. And loyalty to a single media outlet is a slippery slope if you want to see the whole picture.

Had my parents been mirror images, I may have been destined to carry on their belief systems without question. While there’s no way to know for sure how much of my beliefs are the result of nature v. nurture, I’m glad to have learned from a young age the importance of researching both sides of an argument. Sure, my parents’ differing perspectives on the world make my head spin at times, but they’ve taught me to dissect opposing information and make informed choices that honor my own principles. Does growing up in an echo chamber always cause children to breed strong opinions that are sorely one-sided, much like in the media? Not necessarily. However, I’m appreciative that conversations with my parents always present me with new viewpoints to think about, and only sometimes leave me needing a drink.

As you may have guessed, their opposition goes far deeper than current events

The conversations get harder – and far more emotional – when it comes to our personal lives. Debates of whether or not to take out student loans, which home to consider my permanent address, and how to remain nonpartisan in Mommy and Daddy politics have greatly tested my patience.

It all comes back to the biggest dilemma of them all: how to navigate co-parenting after divorce (and all the emotional junk that comes with it). I wish I had some sage wisdom to offer on the issue, but I’ve never been in their shoes. And I hope I never am. What I do know is that although fire and ice aren’t quite compatible, they’re both essential for sustaining life. They just require some distance to flourish.

So, t-shirt or puffer jacket?

Over the years, I’ve learned that I don’t need to choose. In the world of parental politics, I reside somewhere halfway between the Mom and Dad Party. Both sides make some pretty sturdy points, speak from valid personal experience, and occasionally make statements that don’t align with my personal values. They are wise in their own ways, and I can only hope some of it rubs off on me.

Though I’ve been calling a lot more of the shots in my life as I’ve gotten older, I’m relieved to know that if I ever need a dose of fire and ice to help put my qualms into perspective, I have two loving parents that can’t wait to give me a hand.

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Katherine Fillion

U Mass Amherst '24

Katherine is a third year student studying Communication and Business at UMass Amherst, with an interest in ethical market practice and the way in which social media alters our daily interactions. Katherine is an avid gym goer, cold brew lover, and strong believer that everything is better in the color green!