In the first (double) episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Encounter at Farpoint, Picard explains to Riker that he's not comfortable around children and that part of Riker's job will be to stop Picard looking foolish around the ship's children. There are many subsequent episodes that mention or show Picard's discomfort, including Picard's initial dislike of Wesley Crusher.

However, in the episode Family, Picard interacts skillfully with his nephew, Remy, without the need for a buffer, for example teasing him that Picard is the nephew and Remy is the uncle. It's clear that Remy doesn't remember meeting his uncle before, so why is Picard so comfortable in what is essentially a new relationship? Especially since he has just had one of the most traumatic experiences of his life as part of the Borg collective. You would expect him to be more withdrawn than usual, not more playful.

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    I have to object to the last statement - different people deal with trauma in different ways.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 15:25
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    The opposite would make as much sense. See my prior statement.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 15:30
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    Just because Picard seemed comfortable does not mean that he was comfortable. But after dealing with a Borg assimilation, maybe dealing with a nephew doesn't seem like that big of a deal anymore. Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 18:42
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    I was going to say that he learned to love children in The Inner Light but that episode occurs almost two seasons after Family.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 19:44
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    Disliking Wesley Crusher doesn't mean someone dislikes children. Disliking Wesley Crusher is part of being human. Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 1:53

2 Answers 2

  • Picard grew more comfortable with children over the course of the series

Much like Data started the series with almost no understanding of human behavior but evolves over seven seasons, Picard begins unable to deal with children effectively but learns as the episodes pass by. The most obvious relationship is the one with Wesley, whom he initially wants off the bridge, later dismisses with the infamous "Shut up, Wesley!" line, and finally relates a personal story of not passing his exams on the first try. Also consider how well he leads the children in Disaster and the establishment of Captian Picard Day. Many other characters have similar arcs; Worf begins growling and pointing his phaser at everything (even the viewscreen) but learns restraint; Riker starts off as a hardass but loosens up when he grows the beard; Geordi has problems talking to women that he later overcomes.

  • His nephew was very special to him

Despite having either never met him or not having seen him since infancy, Picard was well informed about his nephew through letters, which he comments in this episode "made him feel like part of the family." We also learn in Generations that Picard also looked to the boy to be (pardon the pun) the next generation of the Picard line. Picard felt he didn't need to have a son of his own because his brother had already, so in at least some since he viewed his nephew as a surrogate son.

  • For Picard, connecting with his family is both abnormal and therapeutic

As you mention, Family is the episode immediately following The Best of Both Worlds, in which Picard is assimilated by the Borg and helps them kill many in the Federation. This episode is about healing. But the thing about Picard is that his normal state is, if not withdrawn, very private. His leadership style is very much about projecting a certain image of the captain to inspire people to follow him with confidence (as Dr. Crusher learns in Attached). So for him, the Borg experience was one that was finally traumatic enough that he can't quite handle on his own, so his healing process is to reach out to his family. His need to connect with them is greater than any lingering discomfort with children at this time.

  • About a year after Family (4x02), in the episode Disaster (5x05), Picard takes command of a group of children. In that episode, before the disaster strikes, he is shown as still being socially awkward around children. In The Pegasus (7x12) we see the only on-screen depiction of Captain Picard Day. From the page you link to: Picard was himself not very fond of the event, as he generally did not respond well to children.
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 2:54
  • @CJDennis, though I suppose each scene is somewhat open to interpretation, I think both examples show progress in his ability to cope with children, not that he had completely mastered the issue. However he feels about Captain Picard Day, he does participate, and even tolerates Riker smirking at him throughout. In 1x01, I think he would have either not attended the event or cancelled it outright. Similarly, however he felt in Disaster, he immediately takes command of the children in a way that is tailored to their needs. Or do you think he would've sang a climbing song with Worf?
    – Josh
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 18:36

You answered your question pretty much yourself. Every man deals with traumatic experiences differently and Picard went on leave on Earth while recovering from his assimilation into the Borg. When he was visited by Troi, who asks him where he's going. He tells her he is going to go to La Barre, France, his home village, place he did not visit for 27 years. It is possible that he feels that going home could help him recover. Also Picard doesn't dislike or hate children, he is just not comfortable with them at the beginning, but during TNG series that slowly changes. He decided to change his rule "no children on the bridge" and let Wesley Crusher on. He is shown numerous times to have strong feelings about children.

Remy is his family that counts as something as well. He must have stronger ties to him than other children even if they just meet. Also Picard is not on duty and doesn't have to uphold any laws or routine of ship, so his personality can change accordingly. Many professional solders look tough and without smile on their faces while they are on work (like Queen's Life Guard in GB) but in personal life they are completly different.

  • And also, Picard just casually interacts with Remy and doesn't have to feel overly responsible for him, as he knows Remy's parents are around (as opposed to, arguably, any children living on the ship he commands). And also, as we learn in Generations, he also feels some strong desire for his family to live on, which might override his dislike for children. Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 15:34
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    "Many professional solders look tough and without smile on their faces while they are on work (like Queen's Life Guard in GB) but in personal life they are completly different." General George crook was the most successful general in the Western Indian Wars, with an imposing appearance and a stern, unemotional, Vulcan-like manner which intimidated army officers on occasion, but he was also a supporter of Indian rights and fond of children. There is description of him off duty tusseling on the floor with a toddler and a puppy and it was hard to tell which of the three was enjoying it more. Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 5:14

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