We all have a strong inclination to view ourselves as the protagonists of our own stories.
People in committed relationships have an increased incentive to view themselves as serving supporting roles in someone else’s narrative.
Parents have an even stronger incentive to see themselves in supporting roles, and even as backdrop.
What does this mean for artists? It can mean any number of things, of course, because any number of other variables can come into play. But it’s worthwhile to consider the different results these situations can engender, and the different audiences those results can appeal to.
A deeply committed observer – a parent’s frequent role — doesn’t have the same objectivity as an observer with no personal attachment. That means they are not necessarily reliable sources, as anyone who has heard parents marvel at their children’s mundane accomplishments can attest.
Unreliable sources can provide very intense, interestingly skewed perspectives. By contrast, a single person can summon a level of focus and detached observation that makes for incisive perceptions.
People who view themselves exclusively as the protagonists in their own stories have access to a level of engagement — an all-or-nothing attitude — in their art that can be very appealing.
On the other hand, parents are granted a perspective on themselves that is difficult to match. Close observation of someone with a similar mental makeup going through familiar developmental stages can give one a fair amount of personal insight not accessible through any other means.
Ultimately, there may be tradeoffs, and I can easily imagine audiences preferring one over the other.
Me? I am happiest when I can enjoy the best of both.