My parents just moved into the alt crowd, and, in typical “alternative” fashion, they don’t care at all.
The days the traditional husband+wife+2.5 children equation are over, it seems. In a recent article on David Wise, the freestyle skiing gold-medalist, NBC’s Skyler Wilder marvels over the twenty-three-year-old’s maturity, and the surprisingly “adult” lifestyle he leads in his day-to-day life in Reno, Nevada.
While it’s clear that Wilder’s piece is meant to be complimentary (she notes that Wise “likely has the most stable life” of all his competitors), the characterization of Wise’s lifestyle as something “other,” a novel innovation on the normal twenty-something experience of partying, egocentrism, and general waywardness is surprising.
Why is Wise’s lifestyle so “alternative?” Is it because he has a child in his early twenties? A wife? Perhaps it’s because he’s an active participant in the parenting of two-year-old Nayeli. It seems that Wilder finds the whole package curious, especially the fact that Wise “also attends church regularly and says he could see himself becoming a pastor a little later down the road.” Wilder follows this fact with the quip: “not exactly the picture you had in mind while watching him nail two double corks wearing baggy pants.”
We get it – the “me” generation has not been characterized as the poster child(ren?) of responsibility, maturity, and all that goes along with being in the family way. But Wilder’s attitude belies a more fundamental perspective on that (my) generation that seems at once dismissive and, perhaps unintentionally, condescending.
As David T. Koyzis notes, this inclination to view Wise’s professional persona as contradictory to the image of an actively-engaged father (or any father at all, really) is missing the point. A well-balanced life that embraces the challenges (shall we call them crosses?) of each role is what we are called to, and Wise should be praised for his apparent ability to fulfill that calling. However, to call that ability an act of embracing an “alternative lifestyle?” I am not convinced.