The New Normal

Family arrangements in the US have become more...

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There is no new normal because, honestly, the whole idea of normal is highly subjective even under the best of circumstances which makes our former normal a matter of opinion really. Just as an example, for my four year old daughter old normal was a terminally ill father whose unresponsive shell she visited weekly at first in a nursing home, then in a hospice and finally in a cemetery where she would hug the grave marker good-bye before leaving. Now her normal is Daddy Will and Daddy Rob and two big sisters, one of whom she has yet to meet. This is normal to her. Even when she compares herself to her peers at the preschool she attends (and she does), she doesn’t see herself as different. Her friends have fathers and she does too. Her friends have older siblings and she does too. Her friends have DVD players in their cars, and now thanks to Daddy Rob, so does she. Four year old’s have their priorities straight and are shockingly practical.


Society fights a losing battle to norm itself, set standards and define optimal situations. While they seem to work for the majority of people, it doesn’t seem to be how the majority of people actually live. As another example, about a month ago a state trooper came into the high school where I teach to deliver a presentation to the students on the dangers of meeting people on the Internet. I sat as far back in the auditorium as I could, and I listened to the kids around me as they dismissed most of what the officer had to say as largely misinformed scare tactics, and although I don’t personally discount the possibility of predators on the net, I had to agree with the students. There are predators everywhere in real and virtual life. It is wise to know what signs to look for and to be careful when getting to know someone, but normal for most of the teens and young adults I know is meeting people via the Internet. Friends that you have never seen or talked to is no more unusual to them than the old concept of pen pals. Cyber introductions are similar to “friend of a friend” connections. I met Rob on a message board. In fifty-five days we are going to be married. In times gone by men and women met and got to know their potential mates via correspondence with their first face to face meetings often being their weddings. And that was normal. Twenty-five years ago my friends and I were meeting and dating young men we met at bars and frat parties. And that was normal, but I don’t remember any lectures on stranger danger from state troopers back then.


Normal is in the eye of the beholder. As my darling husband-to-be would say, “It is what it is,” which is a topic for another day.

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