As a child I was schooled constantly in how different mothers and fathers were. TV shows spelled it out. So did examples and conversations all around me, including in my own home.
A mother’s love was supposedly automatic, unconditional. A father’s love was earned. Mothers nurtured, tending to tears. Fathers judged, prompting them.
And while mothers felt pressure to lavish time and affection on their children, fathers could come and go. As long as they did their part as providers, the rest was negotiable.
There was some of that psychology and behavior in the veteran political journalist Ron Fournier, who, at 52, is about my age. He grew up in the same culture that I did.
But almost six years ago, he learned that the social awkwardness of his son, Tyler, wasn’t just that. It was “high-functioning autism,” in the words of a specialist. Tyler, then 12, had Asperger’s.