Andrew Solomon

  • Aired:  06/24/13
  •  | Views: 10,848

In his book "Far from the Tree," Andrew Solomon explores how parents respond to children who are dramatically different from them. (4:55)

>> Stephen: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

WELCOME BACK, EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT HAS A NEW BOOK

CALLED "FAR FROM THE TREE."

THE KINDLE EDITION HAS NEVER

EVEN TOUCHED A TREE.

PLEASE WELCOME ANDREW SOLOMON.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

ANDREW SOLOMON, THANKS FOR

COMING ON.

>> THANK YOU

Stephen: ALL RIGHT, SIR.

YOU ARE A WRITER AND A LECTURER

ON POLITICS AND CULTURE AND

PSYCHOLOGY.

THE AUTHOR OF THE NOON DAY DEEM

ONWHICH WON THE NATIONAL BOOK

AWARD.

GOOD FOR YOU.

>> THANK YOU.

Stephen: YOUR NEW BOOK IS

CALLED FAR FROM THE TREE.

PARENTS, CHILDREN AND THE SEARCH

FOR IDENTITY.

ALL RIGHT.

WHO IS LOOKING FOR THEIR

IDENTITY HERE?

THE PARENTS OR THE KIDS?

>> THEY'RE ALL LOOKING FOR THEIR

IDENTITY.

>> Stephen: BUT I'VE GOT KIDS.

I KNOW WHO I AM.

I'M STEPHEN COLBERT.

>> THE STORY OF THE BOOK IS THAT

PARENTS HAVE CHILDREN THINKING

WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO IS

REPRODUCE THEMSELVES

>> Stephen: IT'S CALLED

REPRODUCTION.

>> INDEED

Stephen: HAVE YOU TRIED IT?

VERY GRATIFYING.

I HAVE.

YES, I HAVE.

HIGHLY PLEASURABLE.

BUT EVERYONE...

>> Stephen: GO AHEAD, YEAH.

THE REALITY IS THAT YOU HAVE

KIDS, AND THEY TURN OUT TO BE

FULL OF SURPRISES AND FULL OF

DIFFERENCES.

I HAVE YET TO MEET ANYONE WHO

HAS NOT OCCASIONALLY LOOKED AT

THEIR CHILD AND SAID, WHERE DID

YOU COME FROM?

>> Stephen: WHAT ARE YOU

TALKING'.

>> THE QUESTION ALL PARENTS ASK

THEIR CHILDREN.

I FIGURE OUT HOW PARENTS RESPOND

TO HAVING CHILDREN WHO ARE

DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT.

PARENTS WITH DOWN SYNDROME OR

SCHIZOPHRENIA, PARENTS OF

CRIMINAL, PARENTS OF PEOPLE WHO

ARE TRANSGENDERED AND OF

PRODIGIES WHO ARE ALSO QUITE

OVERWHELMED

>> Stephen: YOU'RE DEALING WITH

SOME HEAVY STUFF IN THIS.

YOU'RE DEALING WITH HEAVY STUFF.

>> BUT I HAVE TO SAY ALL OF

THESE STORIES WHICH APPEAR TO BE

SO FULL OF DARKNESS ENDED UP

BEING STORIES THAT HAVE AN AWFUL

LOT OF LIGHT IN THEM

>> Stephen: A LOT OF HOPE IN

HERE AND THERE ARE PARENTS

RESPONDING IN REALLY BEAUTIFUL

WAYS TO THE CHALLENGES POSED BY

CHILDREN THEY DIDN'T EXPECT.

HIDING IT FROM MY KIDS SO THEY

DON'T SEE WHAT THE STANDARD IS.

>> I'M HIDING IT FROM MY KIDS

TOO

>> Stephen: WHY DO YOU SAY

EXCEPTIONAL?

WHY EXCEPTIONAL?

SOME OF THESE KIDS YOU WOULD

HAVE JUST CALLED SPECIAL.

OF.

>> WE'RE TRYING TO COME UP WITH

TERMS ALL THE TIME TO DEFINE

THEM.

WHAT IS THE WORD THAT CONVEYS

BOTH THIS IS REALLY DIFFICULT

AND NOT WHAT I WANTED AND THIS

BECAME THE JOY OF MY LIFE.

>> Stephen: WERE YOU AN

EXCEPTIONAL CHILD?

>> I AM.

Stephen: ARE YOU A

SCHIZOPHRENIC OR ANYTHING LIKE

THAT?

I SEE NO OBVIOUS EXCEPTION.

>> SCHIZOPHRENIA HASN'T SURFACED

YET BUT I'M THE GAY CHILD OF

STRAIGHT PARENTS.

THAT THREW UP SOME CHALLENGES

FOR MY PARENTS.

I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS A KID AND

WE WENT TO A SHOE STORE AND THE

SALESMAN SAID AT THE END OF OUR

LITTLE TALK THAT MY BROTHER AND

I COULD EACH HAVE A BALLOON.

MY BROTHER WANTED A RED BALLOON

AND I WANTED A PINK BALLOON.

MY MOTHER SAID I THINK YOU'D

REALLY RATHER HAVE A BLUE

BALLOON.

I SAID I WANTED THE PINK ONE.

SHE SAID THAT MY FAVORITE COLOR

WAS BLUE.

NOW MY FAVORITE COLOR IS BLUE

AND I'M STILL GAY.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

>> Stephen: PEOPLE WHO HAVE

EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN SOMETIMES

SAY TO PEOPLE WHO JUST HAD

EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN WELCOME TO

HOLLAND.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN.

>> THERE'S AN ESSAY WRITTEN BY A

WRITER FOR SESAME STREET IN

WHICH SHE SAID THAT THE

EXPERIENCE OF HAVING A DISABLED

CHILD IS LIKE PLANNING A TRIP TO

ITALY, LEARNING THE LANGUAGE,

GETTING THE GUIDE BOOKS, MAKING

THE RESERVATIONS GETTING ON THE

PLANE AND BEING TOLD WE'RE

LANDING IN HOLLAND.

YOU CAN IMAGINE THE DUTCH AREN'T

SO CRAZY ABOUT THIS COMPARISON.

BUT HER IDEA...

>> Stephen: THEY'RE SO...

THEY'RE EXCEPTIONAL THIS THEIR

OWN WAY.

>> EXACTLY.

Stephen: SO YOU GO TO HOLLAND

AND THEN WHAT HAPPENS?

>> IT'S NOT WHAT SHE SAYS.

YOU GET TO HOLLAND AND THINK I

WANT TO GO TO ITALY.

ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GOING TO

ITALY.

BUT YOU HAVEN'T LANDED IN A

TERRIBLE PLACE.

YOU'VE LANDED IN A COUNTRY THAT

HAS TULIPS AND WINDMILLS.

IT EVEN HAS RECOMMEND BRANTS.

SHE SAID THE EXPERIENCE OF

HAVING A DISABLED CHILD IS NOT

WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR BUT IT

IS ULTIMATELY SOMETHING IN WHICH

THERE ARE REWARDS.

I WOULD THINK OF SOMEONE I GOT

TO KNOW WHO SAID THE ENTERMENT

OF A SON WHO HAD DIED

TRAGICALLY.

LET ME BURY HERE THE RAGE I FEEL

TO HAVE BEEN TWICE ROBBED ONCE

AS A CHILD I WANTED AND ONCE THE

SON I LOVE.

>> Stephen: THANK YOU SO MUCH

FOR JOINING US.

>> THANK YOU.

Stephen: THE BOOK IS "FAR

FROM THE TREE."

ANDREW SOLOMON.

WE'LL BE RIGHT

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