Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Explaining Family

Now that the girl is growing up, I'm starting to think ahead to conversations we are going to have with her. I think books and stories are a great way to try and explain many of the important things in life. Especially to help explain the values and beliefs we have about how to treat people and the world. Even if the stories aren't exactly about the 'topic' I want, there are so many conversations that can be started from one little book. 
So, diving right in, I am picking one of the harder topics for me because it is such an emotionally-charged subject. While I realize that our family is more 'traditional', the girl has friends (or she will, she just doesn’t know it yet) and other family members who do not have a stereotypical family. I want her to know that families don’t all look the same and that it is her duty as a human to support all different families.
There are so many different kinds of families in the world today. Back when I was a kid, no one ever talked to us about being adopted, divorced, having a blended family, having a biracial family, having same-sex parents, being raised by grandparents or aunts/uncles, or any other nontraditional family unit. Talking about differences makes them seem less elusive and mysterious. When I was a kid, there was a family with three different last names living together. No one ever talked about how all the people went together so it was this big mystery and of course rumors start. If someone had talked about it with me, it would have been less mysterious and I could have been more of an advocate for the families when rumors came up.
As you can see, this does not bring me any closer to helping me understand what I am going to tell the girl when she wants to know how to define a family. I think I will have to tell her that there is no one definition of a family. That family, when you are little, is the people who love and care for you and try to help you become a great person. As you get older, you get to choose to expand your family, if you want. Then, family becomes those people that you love and care for and try to help become great people. 
Hopefully, by the time that conversation comes around, I will have figured it out. After all, the girl is only 9 months old right now. I think I have a bit of time.

Some books that we will read

Allison by Allen Say
Allison is an adopted girl who has a difficult time adjusting to her new family.

The Family Book by Todd Parr
Parr shares about all the wonderful kinds of families there are.

In Our Mothers' House by Patricia Polacco
The family on the block is different but it is filled with love, just like any other family.
buy this book

Fred Stays With Me! by Nancy Coffelt
A little girl's dog stays with her as she goes back and forth between her two homes.

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