Tuesday, November 5

Katz Festival: The first line of the parental job description

by John Schwartz

I’m really looking forward to this visit to Indianapolis, and to talking with everybody about Oddly Normal, our family memoir about raising a gay son. 

It leads to wonderful conversations with people who want to share their own stories about their own families. 

Oddly Normal isn’t a self-help book – I don’t think anybody would really find guidance in the crazy path that our lives have taken. But a good memoir doesn’t instruct, it leads us to reflect on the path we would take. 

And so that’s why I mention, at the beginning of the book, the only piece of parental guidance that ever rang perfectly true to me: the first words of Dr. Benjamin Spock’s 1946 masterpiece, Baby and Child Care, published in 1946. 

"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do," Spock writes. 

The rest is commentary, as the sage Hillel said. 

Parents and families raising a child who is different certainly can find themselves in unexpected and unusual situations, facing an unfamiliar landscape. 

But the job of parenting, the support of a family, is the same whatever it is that makes a child different – whether we’re talking about a child growing up gay, or with a learning disability, or being the heavy kid or the short kid or the kid on the autism spectrum. 

Loving our kids so they can learn to love themselves is the first line of the parental job description.
The rest is commentary.

Guest blogger John Schwartz is author of the book Oddly Normal and is set to appear as a featured speaker at the 15th Annual Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts.

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