Love, no matter what. Andrew Solomon at TED 2014

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3 Responses

  1. Editor says:

    Hi Ivan, There is no condemnation for someone who finds it hard to meet the challenge. If you read Andrew’s book, Far From the Tree, I don’t think there is a parent within that does not find it hard.

    I think what he is saying is that when you are a parent, the love just arises, most of the time anyway. And that love is there despite the struggle, the challenge, sometimes even despair. There is nothing easy about love. But nor do you always get to choose when you have it and when you don’t.

    • Ivan Lewis-Coker says:

      Hi Devi. Only just seen your reply.

      When I talked about condemnation of parents who couldn’t meet the challenge, I was asking the questions vicariously to the reader.

      I was exploring the point you mentioned when you said “… love just arises, *most of the time anyway*”.

      It was this last point that I was referencing; those occasions when the unconditional love *doesn’t* arise for some reason – which happens.

      I’m well aware that at various times, all parents find raising a child hard. And this must be multiplied tenfold when the child is disabled. But it’s the unconditional love they have for the child which gets them through.

      Most of the time my question wouldn’t apply because of this love.

      But if, for some reason, the love is offset, perhaps by the extent of the child’s disability and/or the parent(s)’ inability to cope (or a plethora of other reasons – *none* which were to do with outright cruelty), then this is what made me pose the question to the reader.


  2. ivan says:

    What I think I took from this really engaging TED talk was that acceptance of a child with disability needs to be facilitated by the unconditional bond of true parental love.

    Otherwise – especially for others on the outside looking in (though not, one would hope, for people who are parents of children who happen to be non-disabled) who are not that particular child’s parent – it’d just translate to extra work, extra problems, extra responsibility, etc.

    It would translate this way simply because they’d be unable to experience it all as the labour of *unconditional* love which drives all parents. It is this unconditional love which would automatically do the translation from “problem” into “responsibility”. Heightened responsibility, without question, but responsibility nonetheless.

    Of course, this is something I can, myself, only appreciate from a logical/theoretical perspective, rather than from the perspective of actually having *felt* this way, as I don’t have children myself. (And this point is something that Andrew himself alluded to in reference to himself prior to having his child and how he had perceived parents of disabled children.)

    But obviously since we, as humans, are so *vastly* different in our make-ups, I’m sure there will be a number (though, one would hope, not too large a number…:o/) of potential parents out there who would falter when faced with a similar situation. Where their own well-being would take priority over their parental instinct to protect and nurture. In this situation, only guilt (or, hopefully, a sense of propriety, if the instinct is somehow lacking) would guide them to doing “the right thing”.

    … But would you (could you??) condemn those who were unable to meet the challenge, assuming their reasons were not actively hostile…? (i.e. they were not malicious; just perhaps not as emotionally/psychologically resilient/capable as others.)

    And would you really have the *right* to condemn them – especially if you weren’t a parent yourself…?

    I guess no-one could be 100% sure of their own disposition unless the situation actually arose and the “fight or flight” response had opportunity to kick-in.


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