As the U.S. Supreme Court discusses the future and fate of the definition of gay “marriage” – and some politicians wallow gleefully in this kerfuffle of semi-equality — I have noticed something of a renaissance of cultural norms beginning to take shape in the most apt of environments – Kindergarten Classrooms.
As a father of two 6-year-olds – I am noticing that it’s not the word marriage that is being redefined – it’s the word family – and it is happening in our schools. If you think about it – the definition of “family” is somewhat of a historical anachronism. A relic of our past traditions, but as time advances, traditions change.
As the Hallmark Holidays approach – I noticed that one local elementary school dropped the monikers for Fathers and Mothers in their Parent Volunteer Programs – and decided to use more neutral words like Parent. This change promotes inclusiveness instead of exclusiveness. As a gay dad, it felt sometimes awkward going to a “Mother’s Day” picnic at school with my daughter, or a “Girl’s Night” out with the class moms. The mothers all reached out to me – made me feel comfortable – they wanted me there – even though I wasn’t a “Mom.”
Why is this such a big deal? Because it’s wrong to ostracize a parent from being part of his/her child’s school environment. Outlining a family unit as neutral without the patriarchal or matriarchal gender stereotypes casts aside the 1957 “Leave it to Beaver” or more “traditional” roles of men and woman in the household. Wow, have times changes – and so have traditions.
Two parent households with same sex parents – single parent households and households where children have no parents and are being raised by grandparents are all families. As a child brought up by a single mother – it absolutely sucked to have a “father-son” day at school or read a poem about dads and have no one show up.
You see – if we can teach our young ones at the blossoming stage of early childhood development that families are fluid – not static archetypes written in a Jane Austen novel, it would be a more sensible way to preserve equality for the next generation. This might give us a vision to envisage of what the term family truly means.
Your turn to weigh in.. what does family mean to you? What does it look like?