Say you’re 17 and a DeLorean whisks you back in time to when your parents were that same age. Are you friends with each other? Do you like them; do they like you? We all have complex relationships with our parents, but imagine you were meeting them as peers, with no obliged sense of kinship. How do you get along? How do your interests and personalities align, or not? How is that different from your actual parent/child relationship with them?
(And don’t complicate the scenario. Your parents went to different high schools? Okay, in this world they went to the same high school. There’s a big age gap between your parents? Fine - you go back in time twice. You all know what I’m asking here. :p)
Since I’d have to travel back in time almost three times, I just cannot imagine what it would be like. It would be 1939!
I know I just disobeyed the OP’s rules, but seriously, I just cannot imagine meeting my parents when they were 17. So that’s my answer.
To meet my father, I’d have to be aboard a battleship (dunno what kind) in the Pacific. He lied about his age to fight Hitler, but they put him aboard a ship to guard against the Japs (“those guys with the slantin’ eyes”), and never saw much action. We wouldn’t have much in common, but I would have respected him, then. Perhaps I would try to convince him to be wary of alcoholism and of the importance of being involved in his children’s lives.
My mother was a Midwestern version of a hillbilly, but she was at the top of her (small, rural) class. I probably would be quite surprised by how attractive she was (objectively), and how decent and sweet she was as a human being. The things that congealed her into an intolerably evil ball-busting shrew happened to her later in life than that (plus, she really did not age well - at age 30, she looked pretty much like I do at 45, except fatter and hairier). I probably would want to try to convince her to hang on to her good qualities, but since she didn’t have me until more than a decade later, any changes I made would likely wind up in my non-existence. I think I’d have to take that risk, and try to convince her not to take out her misfortune on those less powerful than her.
I think that, short of some sort of contrived scenario, neither of them would respond to me particularly strongly. I definitely see how each of them (personality, genetics) have combined to influence who I have become, but neither of them ever saw that in me, so I figure they wouldn’t at any age. I’d just be some guy that blew in for a while, had a couple of conversations with them, then left.
As a final note, I’d give them some stock tips to think about later in life, but they wouldn’t listen.
I think I would get along with them well; they were both bright, fun people at that age. My mom is still bright and fun, and we have a good relationship, but my dad, like his father before him, has turned into a cranky, paranoid old man and we struggle to find subjects to talk about that we don’t completely disagree on. My mother swears he was not always so crazy and humorless. (They’re divorced.)
My parents were actually a couple in high school (I was born when he was 18 and she was 16). My dad was the star of the football team (he went on to college on a full scholarship), my mom was by all accounts pretty and popular.
I, on the other hand, was pretty much a nerd. Not the stereotypical tape-on-the-glasses (I don’t wear glasses), out of style clothes, socially awkward, but very much academic and very much not athletic (moderate ability but did not play on any of the school teams). So I doubt we would have traveled in the same circles. I would definitely have known both of them (everyone did) but I would be surprised if either one would take notice of me or would remember my name.
Interesting thread…I just finished a book by Robert Heinlein-about a round-the-world voyage he made (with his wife), in the mid-1950s. It was a fascinating look back to the era of ocean liner travel. What I found interesting was the fact that the ship stopped at Tristan da Cunha Island (a remote island in the South Atlantic). The small colony of people there were living and 18th century existence-so few ships stopped there that their dialect was hard to understand. The ship captain invited a bunch of the colonist to lunch, and Heinlein tried to make conversation with him-it was futile-like trying to talk to a man from 1800. So I imagine this is what meeting your parents as children wold be like.
If we had been in the same high school, most likely we would have been casual friends.
My dad was somewhat of a jock - and I was never much into sports.
Mom was kind of the quiet type - and I think she would have been nice to sit next to in class, but we would just have shared a few jokes and maybe helped each other study - not much more.
They were a perfect match - but not the type of people I would have hung around with, but would have been happy to see them as King and Queen of the prom.
I think I would have been too wholesome for my dad; not enough for my mom. I could see maybe being friends with my stepdad. He was kind of a laid back hippie type. Not a total hippie, but he did smoke weed, which I didn’t but I do seem to only be friends with people who do.
It’s hard to imagine what we would have to say to each other.
For one thing, I’m nearly 60 now; what does any 60 year old have to say to a 17 year old he hardly knows?
For another, much as I love my mom, it’s hard to see us being more than the most minimal acquaintances, let alone friends, if we weren’t related. At any time in her life; her core self really hasn’t changed much over the decades as best as I can tell.
My dad, OTOH, has never stopped growing. But it took a lot of growth on both our parts to get to the point where we finally came to be genuinely fond of each other. He wasn’t that person yet when he was 40 or 50 or 60, even. Neither was I, but the point is that I think I wouldn’t have much to say to him if I could meet him when he was 17. But I’m OK with that.
Okay, so my parents were magically living in the same country and are no longer decades apart in age. Not gonna fight the hypothetical here. If we’re traveling through time, why not.
Hell yeah, I’d be friends with my dad. We’d spend all of our time shit talking each other, trying to score booze, talking about the books we loved and the teachers we hated. My mom would be the kind of humorless buzzkill we made fun of, and then somehow he’d end up marrying her, which would be even more baffling to me than the idea of traveling back through some crazy time warp that unites locales and decades, and hanging out with my parents.
You are not 60 years old in this scenario. The premise is in the subject line, people, come on! And if you tell me you’re unfamiliar with “Back to the Future,” so help me god… Actually, considering you’re 60 years old, I *might *allow it. It was the biggest thing in the universe when I was a kid.
My folks were in the same town at 17, but dad I think quit high school by then and went to work at Ford.
I don’t think either of my parents would have liked me. Neither was a nerd or even very good at school (like me). If I made it back in time for me and dad to be in marching band together maybe we’d have been acquainted, but really he was a greaser asshole and mom was, like, a bitter ex Catholic school girl. They had their own problems - they wouldn’t have had time for some square like me.
They didn’t really lighten up until dad got back from Vietnam and mom got out of high school. I think they make better parents than teenagers.
If we’d met organically, my mum and I probably wouldn’t have been friends, just because we were both so shy at that age that a conversation would never get started. But since I’m from the future and I know she’s my mum, I’d definitely try to befriend her. As far as I know, she was always sweet, funny, and liked music, little kids and the idea of being a nurse, and she wasn’t depressed at 17, so probably happier than I’ve ever known her.
Mum left school at 16 and took on a bunch of random jobs until she was old enough to start training as a nurse. 17 year old me was a total nerd who took as many subjects as I was allowed and was aiming to get into medical school, so I probably would have been aghast at her life choices and tried to persuade her she could do better, and should at least finish high school before going into nursing. This would not have endeared me to her. (Although later in life, she did decide she wished she had stayed, and found out what she could do, and at my current age I wouldn’t dream of being so judgemental about it.)
I have no idea if my dad and I would have liked each other, he never talks about his youth. I know he was still in school and planning to go to university, though he didn’t have a very clear idea of what he wanted to do there, but that’s about it. We’re not particularly close now, so there’s that, but then again, Mum says Dad was friendlier/nicer/more mellow when he was young. (She didn’t know him when he was 17, but they met about a year later, so he can’t have changed that much.)
I think we could be friends. They were both nerds and a little bit hippie-ish. Into the Beatles and the Doors. They knew each other, but my mum was papa’s baby sister’s best friend. In a year (in my mum’s age time line) they would meet again in France and fall in love and come to the Netherlands together. I can see why: my papa rowed and was ripped with a pretty face, my mum was a gorgeous red head. Both nerdy and interested in everything. Both love labradors and walks in the rain and big libraries with smelly old books. Just like me! I think we’d get along. I think at that time they’re both quite shy though. My papa perhaps even insecure…
The next ten years, the ten years until I am born, will be more fun though. I’d rather know them in that time. They’ll be students in the Netherlands, at a time when the Dutch government would pay for endless university. They’ll study and meet cool people and generally have a wild time. They’ll finally get out from under their strict parents, which will make them much cooler people. I know much more about that time from them, because there was apparently more to tell.
My parents would not like me because I’m a know-it-all complainer. I’d be all like “What do you mean your car doesn’t have a radio?” and “Well, after birth control is invented in 5 years that shouldn’t be a problem… if it weren’t for all those idiotic religious types” and "I can’t wait for McCarthy to get laid out on TV because I’m sick of this story. He’s a nobody with little lasting affect on American culture other than as a cautionary tale used to scare the Left.
" ‘What’s a TV?’ Did you understand anything I just said?
Okay, 1936. (They were both born the same year.) In the depth of the Depression, they’d consider me a spoiled, soft brat. I wouldn’t have been tough enough to hang with my Dad, but I might have been able to keep him from getting thrown down a flight of stairs in his senior year of high school, which hurt his back for the rest of his life. Mom died when I was 11, so I didn’t really get to know her all that well as a person.
I don’t think I would have much to say to my Mom - she was rich, goody-two-shoes, grades-obsessed, Christian, conservative, sheltered. Opposite of me in high school. However, she had to wear a gigantic back brace until college and she had no friends, so my sympathy would be stirred.
She went to a snooty private Baptist academy.
Dad, while also Christian and fairly conservative, was poor, a military brat, a surfer and musician, didn’t live up to his potential grades-wise, has a silly sense of humor, and while he didn’t drink or smoke as a teenager (like me), liked to have fun and didn’t take life too seriously. He also didn’t date until his 20s or very much like getting attention from the opposite sex (also like me). I think we could have been good friends, though I can imagine thinking him TOO goofy (because I often do now, even when I was a kid!)
He went to shit public high schools in bad neighborhoods. I also went to public HS, but a decent one.