Its one of the oldest adages about children: The apple doesnt fall far from the tree.
But what happens if it does?
What if your child is profoundly different than you because of autism? What if theyre transgendered, a prodigy or even a sociopath?
How are parents meant to cope when their child is born so far from the family tree?
Andrew Solomon, a reporter for the New York Times, has written a book called Far From the Tree that attempts to answer these questions.
Solomon began to think about this idea when his parents struggled with the fact that he was gay. He realized that it was possible to love someone without understanding them
In the book, one of the things he realized was that, for the most part, despite any perceived flaw, parents love their children regardless.
An example of this was when he interviewed the parents of Dylan Klebold, one of the boys responsible for the mass shooting in Columbine.
Solomon asked them, if their son was there right now, what, if anything, they would like to say to him.
Sue Klebold responded: I would ask him to forgive me for being his mother and never knowing what was going on inside his head.
The natural tendency when something horrific happens, like a mass shooting, is to put some of the blame on the parents, citing their lack of attention to the child.
In fact, there is a long history of blaming the parents.
Only 60 years ago, it was believed that autism was caused by refrigerator mothers. The theory was that autism was caused by the emotional frigidity of the mother. Schizophrenia was also thought to be something you develop because your parents had an unconscious wish that you not exist.
If you go back 100 years, there was the idea of imaginationism, which said that the reason your child was a dwarf or had deformities, was because the mother had lascivious longings, which were expressed in the deformities of her child.
These theories of implicating parents go back all the way through history, and many of them have been dismissed. But when a child commits a crime, that is the one area in which people seem not to be able to let go of the idea.
From raising kids with amazing talent to those with massive challenges to even coping with a child who did the unthinkable, parents have the hard job of dealing with children that they may not be able to relate to.
That question gets repeated often when the children of parents dont end up the same as the parents projections.
What if your kid ends up a prodigy, a piano virtuoso and you cant play chopsticks?
For the most part, love conquers all differences, and sometimes it is difficult to love certain aspects of our children, but that doesnt mean that hard love is any more real than the alternative.
Instead of focusing the lens on the parents and how big a hand they had in their kids behaviour, we should concentrate on the kids themselves. They are the ones that are acting out to get attention, not the other way around.
In the wake of Columbine, shock rocker
Marilyn Manson was blamed for the rampage.
In 2002, when Michael Moore did the film Bowling for Columbine, he made sure to chat with Manson and his interview was one of the most profound parts of that documentary.
In response to Moore asking him what he would say to the kids at Columbine or the community, Manson responded with: I wouldnt say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say. And thats what no one did.
The farther away your child falls from the tree, the more you should listen.
-- Associate news editor Ashley MacDonald