Watch: Unconditional love and acceptance, no matter what!

Watch: Unconditional love and acceptance, no matter what!

What is it like to raise a child who's different from you? Writer Andrew Solomon remarks, "A lot of the time the question of parenthood is, what do we validate in our children, and what do we cure in them?"

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Representative image (Source: Getty Images)

In this insightful TED Talk, writer Andrew Solomon highlights the difference between unconditional love and unconditional acceptance of parents for their children. He talks about his own childhood, when his mother would prompt him to choose blue as his favourite colour, when he preferred pink, and remarks, “The fact that my favourite colour now is blue, but I’m still gay, is evidence of both my mother’s influence and its limits.”

So, what is it like to raise a child who’s different from you in a fundamental way? Explaining the challenge, Solomon says, “There are vertical identities, which are passed down generationally from parent to child. Those are things like ethnicity, frequently nationality, language, often religion. Those are things you have in common with your parents and with your children. …There are these other identities which you have to learn from a peer group. And I call them horizontal identities, because the peer group is the horizontal experience. These are identities that are alien to your parents and that you have to discover when you get to see them in peers. And those identities, those horizontal identities, people have almost always tried to cure.”

He remarks, “And I suddenly thought, most deaf children are born to hearing parents. Those hearing parents tend to try to cure them. Those deaf people discover community somehow in adolescence. Most gay people are born to straight parents. Those straight parents often want them to function in what they think of as the mainstream world, and those gay people have to discover identity later on.”

He also spoke to the family of Dylan Klebold, who was one of the perpetrators of the Columbine massacre. He asked what the parents would say to him if he were around and the mother Sue replied, “I would ask him to forgive me for being his mother and never knowing what was going on inside his head.”


He also gives the example of Clinton Brown, a dwarf, whose doctors told his parents at birth to leave him in the hospital since they found his condition hopeless. But, the parents persevered and he went on to walk and go to college. When Solomon asked her what drove her, she told him, “What did I do? I loved him, that’s all. Clinton just always had that light in him. And his father and I were lucky enough to be the first to see it there.”

He gives us some food for thought, “We have to think about how we feel about cures altogether. And a lot of the time the question of parenthood is, what do we validate in our children, and what do we cure in them?”

Watch the video here: