No book can escape various associations with an author’s life, for what else do we have to draw upon if not life as we have experienced it. However, that does not mean a work is autobiographical, but merely reflective of a set of circumstances, and in my case, the desire to understand them. The human condition owns my curiosity and most specifically, family, for by its nurturance we can expand into life or through its neediness we can remain fettered to our wounds and the behaviors they spawn. Family is the single most critical factor in creating healthy children, society, and life on this earth–or not. And yet we know so little about how to make it work. In Suffer the Little Children, the question I am asking is: what do we do as parents that drive our children from us? Anne Mueller, the protagonist, investigates that question when she says:
“I began to revisit events of the past and realized that every wrong choice I’d made stemmed from feeling so important that I couldn't afford to lose. It seemed the further we moved away from the naturalness we knew as a child, the emptier we became. Our solution was to fluff ourselves up with self-importance. It was a choice shot through with fear of loss, so when threatened, I fought to win. It didn’t matter if the fight was with Spook, Pete, or Samantha. The justification I offered – I just want what’s best for you – rarely meant that. Rather it meant, I just want for you, what frightens me the least.” from Suffer the Little Children
I like to think of Suffer the Little Children as a story with wide appeal, as few people have experienced family life as richly or lovingly as they have imagined it could be. Something in most of us recognizes our family interactions as much less than ideal. I remember watching an Oprah Winfrey program years back that discussed child-parent relationships. There wasn't a dry eye in the house as those in the audience shared a singular desire to have felt accepted and respected by their parents. Then there was Ram Dass, who with the wisdom of age suggested, “If you think you’re enlightened, go home for a weekend.”
Thus I wrote this novel and let Anne Mueller’s search for another way to understand parenting raise some interesting questions, for don’t ever imagine there isn't another way.