Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the family unit

I'm bracing myself.  I know it's part of the deal.  But I'm still all full of anxiety about it. 

Boy-o's class is starting their unit on the family.  "The family."  Words that strike terror into this mama's old heart.  I know right now that this is my baggage and not his.  But I wonder how long I'll be able to say this? 

The fear isn't that his school and teacher will deal with the unit poorly. On the contrary - I have every confidence that the discussion will be very inclusive of different family forms, and especially so of Boy-o's. 

But my kid is the only kid in his class who doesn't have a dad.  The only one.  The one and only.  And being the lone 'different' kid is not an easy road.  

Thankfully, we have friends whose families look just like ours.  Boy-o knows he isn't the only kid in the world with two moms or two dads.  He knows that families come in all different shapes and sizes and forms.  His classmates just (somewhat bizarrely, given our exceedingly high divorce rates) happen to have a fairly homogenous (and very traditional) family formations.   

Already he is coming home and acting out families full of moms and dads. Calling L. his dad.  Experimenting and playing with how he perceives his outer world and the very different world in our home.   Don't get me wrong, I am fully aware that these actions are normal and inevitable.  But it still touches a nerve.

Because the world is what it is - and we will always be 'different'.   (And perhaps especially so in a town like Redneckville). 
We will (and do) tell him over and over and over that difference is what makes this world, and the people in it, beautiful.  If we teach him nothing else, this is the most essential.  But it's a difficult thing to impart when the outside world, more often than not, does not reflect this message back. 

So - I'll hold my breathe for the next little while.   Try like hell not to let my anxiety filter down to Boy-o.  Do lots of affirming difference kinds of things.  And hope for the best.   

That's all anyone can do, when it comes right down to it.


  1. Until they bring in same sex marraige inclusively around the world ,I think its going to be more difficult for the kids.
    when my kids were little only us and one other of the kids friends had dad's,most were single mums.
    my husbands daughter(from 1st mge) is "civil ceremonied" married to her girlfriend,they have 4 boys and similar problems.

  2. I have the same anxiety about Erik and I know I'm going to have to talk to the school ahead of time because I know about one project he'll probably be doing next year (a neighbour told us about it) about making a family tree. It said "Mom" and "Dad" and then they were supposed to list grandparents etc. I can't quite believe they're doing a project like that, not only because of families like ours but because of families like my neighbour's - her husband simply doesn't know who his father or grandparents were. There are just so many different ways that this project could be awkward for so many types of families. At the very least we'll be pushing for it to say "Parents" instead of Mom and Dad, but GAH.

    I was pleased to see that in the senior kindergarten class (Erik is still in JK), there was a book the kids had made about their families. It was cool and actually did show different kinds of families. None with two moms or two dads, but there were some with a single parent and some that had grandparents living with them, etc.

  3. In a word - the Family Book by Todd Parr. Get it if you haven't got it already. Actually buy the series ;) it is fabulous!

  4. Claire - we have it. And others. It's not that he's not getting loads of positive messages about diversity at home. The part I worry about it that everywhere else he turns, that diversity isn't actually mirrored.