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Parent’s Influence on Children’s Expectations

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Parent’s Influence on Children’s Expectations In the technological era we are living in it is becoming harder and harder to fulfill the expectations of our children. Due to increased communications through cell phones and computers the youth are growing up much more connected to each other than older folks were just 30 years ago providing a window into all of their friends personal lives. This creates a strong desire to obtain the same material goods and lifestyle putting pressure on their individual self-expectations. Magazines, television shows, and books are always coming up with new strategies to help parents cope with children’s expectations for life and other material goods. “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros and “Cinderella” by Anne Sexton both show how kids grow up expecting perfect situations in life like fairytales; the main difference is that Cisneros’ story shows a young person waiting for the parents to provide her with happiness whereas in Sexton’s piece the young girl shows initiative to make her dreams a reality. In “The House on Mango Street,” by Sandra Cisneros, a child details her living situation with her parents. She talks about how they lived in apartments and moved around before finally moving to a house. The house the family finally moves to does not meet her expectations that were created by her parents. Although the house is “a real house that would be ours for always so we wouldn’t have to move each year” (Cisneros 392) it has lots of problems and things seem to break a lot. At one point her teacher passes by the house where she sees the girl playing and reacts in a way that makes her embarrassed of her home. The story ends with her expressing a desire to move to “A real house. One I could point to.” (Cisneros 392) but her parents just say this is how it is for now. “Cinderella” by Anne Sexton starts by giving examples of people who went from rags to riches. Then Sexton goes into the story of Cinderella, a girl whose mother died and now she lives with her father, stepmother, and stepsisters and is treated as their maid. While her father brings extravagant gifts for his new wife and her daughters he gives Cinderella a “twig of a tree;” (Sexton 35) but she planted the twig on her mother’s grave “and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat” (Sexton 37). This dove brings Cinderella anything she wishes for and eventually brings her the clothing that allows her to go to the ball where she met the prince. Every night she would slip away from the prince so he left wax on the floor so he could get her shoe and discover whom “his strange dancing girl” (Sexton 78) really was. Although Cinderella’s two stepsisters fit their feet into the shoe by cutting off portions of their feet the prince discovered it was not their shoe by the “blood pouring forth” (Sexton 85) and eventually he found Cinderella. The prince and Cinderella were wed and lived “happily ever after” (Sexton 101). As children grow up they develop expectations for their living situations. In “The House on Mango Street” and “Cinderella” two young girls deal with their personal expectations as created by their parents. In both situations the girls are dreaming of better living situations. “They always told us … we would move into a real house … And inside it would have real stairs, … like the houses on T.V.” (Cisneros 392). This quote shows how the parents formed the girl’s expectations of what is considered good and positive regarding their home and the technology provided additional pressure. In “Cinderella” as her mother was on her deathbed she said, “Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile / down from heaven in the seam of a cloud” (Sexton 25-26). Her mother was basically telling her that she would take care of her even though she might be in a tough situation and to be patient. The parents in both stories tell their children to be patient and hope for the best. Like the children in these stories we tell our children stories with positive outcomes like the stories that Sexton begins her poem with, “That story” (5, 10, 21, 109). Although the parents drive the children’s expectations in both the story “The House on Mango Street” and the poem “Cinderella” the girls in each story take a different approach. The girl in Cisneros’ story is waiting for “A real house. One I could point to … The house on Mango Street isn’t it” (392). She accepts that this is her reality though and waits for her parents understanding that the “real house” might never happen. In the poem “Cinderella” the main character takes initiative to solve her problem by asking her mother for help, and she fulfills her wishes, “the dove would drop it like an egg upon the ground” (Sexton 39). Hoping for these things, even though her stepmother tried to hold her back, eventually led to her marriage with the prince and they “lived … happily ever after, / like two dolls in a museum case” (Sexton 101-102). Sexton’s tone her indicates that although Cinderella got her dreams it was fake and may not bring true happiness, a mocking of the original Cinderella story. The two pieces of literature are good examples of how parents impact their children’s expectations. Sexton’s work is more constructive because her poem shows how relationships will not always be perfect even though it might appear that way. She mocks the original Cinderella story by ending her poem with “Cinderella and the prince / lived, they say, happily ever after, / like two dolls in a museum case / never bothered by dippers or dust, / … their darling smiles pasted on for eternity”(Sexton 100-107). “The House on Mango Street” is more realistic because Cisneros uses everyday situations to express the feelings of a girl towards material goods in a society that is driven by competition and comparisons. The story also uses real problems and a more realistic family structure that provides part of the struggle for the young protagonist. The girls in both stories are struggling with their expectations for life so neither is truly a positive piece; Cinderella appears to have what she desired but that may not give her happiness and the girl in “The House on Mango Street” does not have her dream home. Too often people believe that material goods and events in life will bring them happiness. This desire is reinforced by stories from childhood and promoted by the media. Overall the natural comparison with others is normal and the parent’s promotion of these dreams can provide children with false hope. “Cinderella” by Sexton and “The House on Mango Street” by Cisneros demonstrate that sometimes you don’t get what you want and even if you do it may not bring the happiness that was anticipated. Stories like this will help the youth better understand and cope with everyday situations and common disappointments that frequently accompany comparing oneself with others.

Works Cited
Cisneros, Sandra. “The House on Mango Street.” Literature: A Portable Anthology. Third edition. Janet Gardner et al. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2013. 391-392. Print.
Sexton, Anne. “Cinderella.” Literature: A Portable Anthology. Third edition. Janet Gardner et al. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2013. 597-600. Print.

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