As we continue to explore the importance of fathers in our lives, we came across this TED Talk link to Andrew Solomon’s presentation. A gay man, he shared his parents’ attitude to his “otherness.” While they came to accept his being gay, they hung onto their sense of loss, because they saw him as not “normal.”His parents' judgment confounded Solomon. It was clear that they did not see him as “normal.” Solomon wondered, why couldn’t they realize that his difference meant he was not abnormal, but extraordinary?
That’s a powerful shift in perspective for parent and child—one which benefits both of them profoundly.
As adoptive parents, we frequently confront family life that veers off the path of our expectations. We must redraw our templates to include the actuality of the real children we parent. When we let go of our fantasy children and truly embrace the children in our lives, we validate them. We free them to be who they truly are and release them from the need to be a hollow charade of our expectations. This is unconditional love. We restate every day when we make the choice to relinquish the old expectations as well as the yearning that our kids (and ourselves,) had a more traditional (easier) family journey.
Solomon quotes the words of “Jim Sinclair, a prominent autism activist ... "When parents say 'I wish my child did not have autism,' what they're really saying is 'I wish the child I have did not exist and I had a different, non-autistic child instead.' Read that again. This is what we hear when you pray for a cure--that your fondest wish for us is that someday we will cease to be and strangers you can love will move in behind our faces." It's a very extreme point of view, but it points to the reality that people engage with the life they have and they don't want to be cured or changed or eliminated. They want to be whoever it is that they've come to be."
How often have you felt "less than" in your life? Remember the shame of not measuring up to parental expectations? How intentional are you in avoiding this painful interaction with your children? In what way are you telegraphing expectations to your child. Are they based authentically on the child's capabilities and identity?
How are you encouraging them to be their best selves, without sending any messages that they must shape themselves according to specifications of an ideal, fantasy child.
Check out Solomon’s entire talk by using this link. http://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_solomon_love_no_matter_what.html?source=facebook#.UbYlcTndiER.facebook
Sally: 612-203-6530 | Susan: 541-788-8001 | Joann: 312-576-5755 | Gayle: 772-285-9607