I've blogged a million times about what my husband calls my "Mom Network." I can pick up the phone any time of day or night and get parenting advice, a link to a recipe, info on what to buy, or some empathy. I have direct access to a number of mamas who walk beside me in this crazy life of parenting. It's awesome. I'm so thankful for them.
So I thought I'd call out a quick favor. You know, since I consider anyone who reads this blog part of my Mom Network too. Because it really does take a village - I depend so much on the other moms in my life, from my best friends to the moms of kids in my kids' schools. We're in this together, even if we don't know each other well.
Can we spend some time this week talking to our kids about what makes a REAL family? This past week I had a moment during which, completely innocently, a child said to me (in front of two of my kids), that I wasn't Amani's real mom. Again. This has happened quite a bit, actually. And not just kids.
I think sometimes we don't think to talk to our kids about families that don't look like ours. It just doesn't occur to us. I know I haven't spent much time intentionally talking to my kids about families who have parents of two different races or families with parents of the same gender, or kids being raised by grandparents.
So here's what I plan to do this week and I really hope you will join me:
I'm going to talk to my kids about what our family looks like and ask them to describe some of the families we know. We're going to spend some time listing the things we have in common and the things that are different (if you're nerdy like us, you might even choose this time to teach about Venn diagrams... you're welcome.) And I'm going to hammer home that the main thing we all have in common is how much we love each other. And love is what makes a REAL family. We also have The Family Book by Todd Parr. I'm going to pull it out and read it, probably to start the conversation.
Because I know firsthand how much it hurts to hear that I'm not Amani's real mom. And that's just my heart hurting. He's too young to fully understand yet, but I fear the day that comments like that hurt his heart or hurt his brother and sister's hearts when they hear that someone thinks he's not their REAL brother.
Our children are going to encounter other kids from all walks of life. My kids are going to need some allies when they hear that we aren't a REAL family. Kids from same-sex families, from families with parents of different races or religions, from families with step-parents or grandparents as primary caregivers... they are going to need some allies when someone implies that they aren't REAL families too. I want my kids to be the ones who step up and encourage others. I'm hoping you want your kids to be the ones who will step up and encourage mine when they need it, too. I truly believe that these kinds of conversations can keep those hurtful comments from happening.
Calling all Real Families - join me in this discussion with your kiddos this week! And post some comments - how did it go? What did you learn? Do you have advice to share with us about having this conversation?
Thanks, Mom-Network. I sure do love you.