Tuesday, November 11, 2014

SimpleRules

I was watching a television documentary about 15 years ago that moved me deeply.  A family in Wisconsin (I think) had adopted not one, not two, but 12 children over the years.  Moreover, every one of those dozen children had some kind of challenging, life-impacting condition.  One was blind, another had cerebral palsy, a third had deformed arms, etc.  These special needs children ranged in ages from one to 18.

The journalist in the documentary was interviewing the parents and all the children who were capable of responding.  His questions probed the motivations of the parents, the systems used by the family to function, and the dynamics of living in such a challenging environment.

Two of those responses have lingered with me for the last 15 years:
  1. When the journalist asked the parents Why? - Why so many?  Why such challenging children? Why such a broad age range?  Why such diversity of needs? - their response was simple and heart-warming:  "We've got more than enough love to share."  Wow!
  2. The journalist posited to the 18-year-old boy with Down's Syndrome that living in such a diverse and challenging family dynamic must require an elaborate set of interactional rules and protocols.  The young man simply shook his head and said, "No, sir, we just have one rule in our family."  Puzzled, the journalist asked what such a powerful rule might be.  The boy's response: "If you're making your brothers and sisters cry, then you're probably doing something wrong."
I have adopted both of these simple axioms and tried to apply them in my life, personally and professionally:
  1. I can never give away too much love.  The more I give, the more I have to share.
  2. If I'm making my brothers and sisters cry, I'm probably doing something wrong. 

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