As someone who grew up in a non-conventional household and now, as a mom raising my children in a traditional setting, it is essential that my children learn what I consider very important—even basic—life lessons: love, respect, and responsibility, among others. Moreover, as the shape of families continues to change, we should show our kids that values still remain the same.
While it is often difficult for parents to address topics such as same-sex couples and same-sex parents, especially with younger children, it is important that we don’t send the wrong message. Being awkward about a subject or avoiding it completely may make your child think you don’t approve of or are against something.
I had the opportunity to watch a special screening of a new ABC Family show called The Fosters. The drama series tells the story of a multiracial and diverse family made up of a mix of foster and biological children who are raised by two moms. The women, a police officer and a school vice principal, have built a close, loving family whose daily routine is disrupted unexpectedly when a hardened teenager comes into their lives.
After watching the pilot, I was pleased with several elements of the show that integrate a non-conventional family. And as a Latina, I was happy to see American Latinos represented within the main cast of characters, without being stereotypically unacculturated.
Furthermore, there are several lessons children can learn from watching this show, lessons that teach those values we want to instill in our children and, as parents, we strive to guide ourselves by. We can appreciate these lessons no matter where they come from.
10 Lessons Kids Can from The Fosters 1 of 11
Lesson #1 2 of 11
Love connects us all. After watching the The Fosters' pilot, I believe the core message of this episode was how a loving family will have good kids that are compassionate and will do the right thing. What connects the family is the love they share with one another, not necessarily a blood relationship.
Lesson #2 3 of 11
Prejudice is never a good starting point. When Callie, a teenager coming from the foster system, arrives in the Fosters' home, the former foster child and now adopted daughter, Mariana isn't very welcoming. Brandon, on the other hand, was open to her. An important lesson for kids: giving people a chance to show who they are without any preconceived notions.
Lesson #3 4 of 11
Trust your parents. Often, especially with teenagers, it's hard for kids to feel that parents have their best interest at heart. Mariana learns this lesson the hard way by concealing information from her moms and facing her past on her own.
Lesson #4 5 of 11
Be respectful. Sometimes it seems people are not teaching this to children anymore. Respect should not be reserved for parents alone, but should be demonstrated between children. Like Jesus, for example, who made a snide comment about his sister, and was reprimanded by his mom right away.
Lesson #5 6 of 11
America is a rainbow. The more we see people of color on TV, the better for the future of the country. Seeing this image shows kids that we all look different, like different things and love different people. This shows the diversity of the American experience and how embracing such diversity will change our interactions in a positive way.
Lesson #6 7 of 11
Give your parents a break. While parents have a responsibility to guide and are there for their kids, sometimes insecurity strikes about their children's feelings and preoccupations. Opening up to your parents about your needs and worries will help them understand and help you and will reduce the anxiety that causes sensing something is wrong and not knowing how to approach it.
Lesson #7 8 of 11
Appreciate sacrifice. Even though parents make sacrifices for their kids willingly and without expecting anything in return, children should be aware that many times adults go through unpleasant situations and cope with them if they see it is in the best interest of their children.
Lesson #8 9 of 11
Embrace your identity without fear. The characters from the show have each a unique personality and, as teenagers, are searching for their identity. Children can learn the important lesson of being themselves, which will ultimately teach them to accept differences and the uniqueness of others.
Lesson #9 10 of 11
Your actions have consequences. Usually when kids get in trouble, they do so because they don't foresee the ultimate consequence. In the first episode of The Fosters, Brandon could not fully understand the danger he put himself in. Kids must be encouraged to think about the big picture and why is important to think before they act.
Lesson #10 11 of 11
Be grateful for what you have. One of the most important lessons I'm teaching my kids is to always be grateful for what they have. Having a show about children who go through the foster care system, enduring a lack of material things as well as the love and protection of parents sends a great message to kids. I think it helps to give them a perspective and appreciation for everything they have, and that's one of life's most important lessons.
Photo Source: ABC Family