Study Guide

The Parents in Will Grayson, Will Grayson

By John Green and David Levithan

The Parents

Moms and dads pop up quite a bit in this story, but the main ones are Will's parents—who also happen to be doctors—and will's parents—a single mom and an absentee dad.

Will's mom and dad are your typical loving parents. They're doctors, so they're obviously super smart and high-achieving, and they seem to expect the same thing of Will. Will's dad suggests that he go to Northwestern University (just like he did) and become a doctor (just like he is). And unlike many angst-ridden teens, Will doesn't seem to mind their meddling:

You know how people are always saying your parents are always right? "Follow your parents' advice; they know what's good for you." And you know how no one ever listens to this advice, because even if it's true it's so annoying and condescending that it just makes you want to go, like, develop a meth addiction and have unprotected sex with eighty-seven thousand anonymous partners? Well, I listen to my parents. They know what's good for me. I'll listen to anyone, frankly. Almost everyone knows better than I do. (5.13)

Part of why Will listens to his parents is because he has some self-esteem issues, but still, it's a good decision.

will's mom has a slightly harder job. She's raising will on her own after his dad left them, and dealing with a son who is struggling with issues around mental illness and identity is not an easy task. Even though will seems annoyed by her at times and wishes she wasn't around, you can't say Mom isn't trying her hardest to connect with her son. Heck, she's even totally cool when her son comes out to her. Check it out:

mom: how was chicago?
me: look, mom, i'm totally gay, and i'd appreciate it if you could get the whole freakout over with now, because, yeah, we have the rest of our lives to deal with it, but the sooner we get through the agony part, the better.
mom: the agony part?
me: you know, you praying for my soul and cursing me for not giving you grandbabies with a wifey and saying how incredibly disappointed you are.
mom: you really think i'd do that?
me: it's your right, i guess. but if you want to skip that step, it's fine with me.
mom: i think i want to skip that step.
me: really?
mom: really.
me: wow. i mean, that's cool.
mom: can i at least have a moment or two for surprise?
me: sure. i mean, it can't be the answer you were expecting when you asked me how chicago was.
mom: i think it's safe to say that wasn't the answer I was expecting.
(12.3)

Both Wills have big moments with their parents in the end. Will and his dad talk through the whole Northwestern/doctor thing and he finally hears his parents say that it's cool to do whatever he wants. Maybe Will will become a doctor, but at least now he can feel like he's making his own choice. will also realizes just how hard his mom is trying in the end. When he's having a horrible day, she's the one he calls. He just has to let her know the truth—he loves her. Aww.

Overall, the parents in this story are super loving and understanding. Neither Will Grayson is being put upon or abused by his mom or dad. These parents are the supportive soil from which Will and will can grow. Seriously, major parent points here.

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