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Monday, November 26, 2012

How parents find a way to love extraordinary children, including products of rape and those who kill

Far From the Tree

From the piece:

But ordinary families, Solomon writes, find a way to love the most extraordinary children — those conceived in rape, those with disfiguring illnesses, those who become criminals. No matter what, these kids are still theirs. Solomon’s project is about difference, yes, but also our ability to love. And while his definition of extraordinary is sometimes jarring — it is broad enough to include the transgendered, the autistic, children conceived in rape and also Columbine killer Dylan Klebold — they are connected, for Solomon, by parents who found themselves with children very different than they expected. Which is to say, children very different from themselves.

“Having anticipated the onward march of our selfish genes, many of us are unprepared for children who present unfamiliar needs. Parenthood abruptly catapults into a permanent relationship with a stranger, and the more alien the stranger, the stronger the whiff of negativity,” he writes. “Children whose defining quality annihilates (our) fantasy of immortality are a particular insult; we must love them for themselves, and not for the best of ourselves in them, and that is a great deal harder to do.”

The triumph of Solomon’s book is that it becomes an argument about what it really means to celebrate difference and diversity, not merely in name or in theory, but in day-to-day life.

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