I am reading Andrew Solomon’s “Far from the Tree”, in which he talks to and about parents whose children are “different” from them. The construct is that it’s easier to feel connected to a child who shares your identity (culture, language, etc) and harder for a child who has a different identity (which he calls ‘horizontal’ identity). Mostly I”m enjoying the book, although sometimes it seems to wordy on the medical or cultural contexts when I’m hungry for more from the parents themselves. Also, some of the “different” populations seem less challenging to parenting than others, but I guess that’s very subjective.
Anyway – the chapter I”m reading now is “Crime”, in which he interviews parents whose kids have committed crimes. And he interviews Tom and Sue Klebold. He quotes Sue Klebold as saying “every one of us has the capacity to be good and the capacity to make poor choices. If you love someone, you have to love both the good and the bad in them” He talks at length about Sue’s capacity, in particular, to both be very sad/angry/remorseful about the horrible choices her son made, and to be sad/loving about why her son made those choices and how much she misses him.
This chapter, in particular, challenges the ideas that we KNOW how to raise good kids; and that if we can pick one thing that caused an awful event to happen, then we can prevent it from happening again.
So…..would you still love your child if s/he committed a horrible crime? Leah and I have a secret sign-off, something that started as part of our bedtime routine. I say to her AFNMW (always, forever, no matter what). It’s become a thing we do…..but reading this chapter of Solomon’s book has made me think how really powerful that promise of mother to child can be.