Yes, this is my second post in two days on NBC's new family
drama, "Parenthood." But while Tuesday's post offered a general
review of the show (good, not great), I wanted
to take a few minutes to talk about something that happened in the
final seconds of the premiere but that has had me thinking for
Talking to his father, Adam Braverman (played by Peter Krause)
says tearfully, "There's something wrong with my son." The son in
question, Max, we find out, has Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of
In the moment, I was hugely disappointed in NBC. While certainly
autism is not the norm, many people with the disease, especially
those with an Asperger's diagnosis, view it as a
gift and see their abilities -- which often include
an excellent memory, strong three-dimensional thinking,
and musical or artistic ability -- as gifts.
Moreover, to label any child with a disability as
"wrong" is hurtful, plain and simple. Some parents expressed those views on Access Hollywood last
week, where they found an ally in host Billy
But something happened yesterday that made me
rethink the situation. We got a comment on a story we ran in the
most recent edition of Special Parent. The story was a profile of
Kathy Lavin, a Chicago-area mom of three children, the oldest of
whom has Down syndrome. At one point, Lavin is talking about the
birth of her second child, Michael, and says:
"...having Michael was a healing moment for me. It proved to me I
could believe in myself to create something perfect."
One reader left the following comment:
So let me get this straight. Are you saying that people living with
dissabilities [sic] aren't perfect? Are you saying that
you are? Or are you telling your son that He alone is perfect?
The reader makes a fair, though perhaps a little harshly worded,
point. And in light of that message, I rethought the "Parenthood"
Of course, we shouldn't be reinforcing the idea that a child
with special needs is fundamentally flawed or that, like all
children, they're not a source of joy and inspiration for their
parents. They are.
But in a sort of squeamish, uncomfortable way, I think we can
all understand what parents of children with special needs like
Adam or Kathy must feel, at least in the immediate aftermath. A
sense of failure, perhaps? Of loss? Of disappointment? Of
Let's not judge Adam Braverman or Kathy Lavin or any of the
millions of parents of children with special needs out there. As
much as their children need to know that they are valued and loved,
parents need to be reassured, comforted, validated, and, yes, maybe
even allowed to indulge in a moment of politically incorrect
Being a parent is hard. Being a parent of child with special
needs is unbelievably hard. They don't need your judgment on top of
What to do with your weekend, delivered every Thursday.
Great deals and chances to win prizes, delivered every Monday.
Exclusive offers from our partners,usually delivered twice a week.
Resources for parents of children with special needs,delivered the second Tuesday each month.