Not every senior experienced good family connections. A few of them suffered through family-splintering disconnections that had terrible consequences for them. I heard stories about bitter divorces, the unsettling comings and goings of parents' boyfriends or girlfriends, and the travails of other adult relationships.
But of particular interest to me were the disconnections instigated by seniors who openly challenged family prescriptions in order to realize their familial/sexual selves. Such realizations are possible but extremely difficult to accomplish. Teenagers who dare to defy intentional family worlds often end up becoming isolated within, or expelled from, those worlds (Shweder, 1991).
That is what happened to Lona and many of her friends (Hemmings. Lena's clique was unusually mixed (or "mixed up," as Lona liked to say), especially with regard to members' sexual orientations. I conducted an interview with clique members during whicn I talked about a best-selling book about how teenagers develop a false self in order to get people to like them. Ashley, Lena's best friend, spoke up and said, "I loiow exactly what that book is saying.
A lot of kids do that, but we're not like that in this group. We're our true selves. We are who we are and don't care if other people don't like us." When I asked what it meant to have a "true self," another girl, Jennifer,said, "It's the feeling of knowing who you are and what you want."Probing further, I asked the group to talk in more detail about their own true selves.
Ashley suddenly sat upright and exclaimed, "Okay, I'm coming right out and telling you what it is for me and for a lot of us here in this room. It's got to do with sexuality and why a lot of people don't like us." She then came out with her lesbian sexual orientation, with Paul following suit with his own assertion of himself as a gay man. Both of them went on to describe how their mothers had evicted or abandoned them because they refused to conform to prescriptions intended to normalize their sexual identities.
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