What do you teach your kids about love? Does happily ever after always feature a man, a woman and a wedding?
It doesn’t in real life, but it’s hard to find examples of the alternatives in children’s books and movies. Even if you’re dedicated to showing your kids that they have a rainbow of choices when it comes to falling in love, it’s hard to do.
In honor of bisexual pride day yesterday, Annie at Phd. in Parenting offered up a lovely essay on her efforts to teach her children about love in all its forms.
When my kids play house, they tussle over roles: someone has to be the mommy, someone has to be the daddy. You get one of each, for a game of house. The mom and dad are married.
This is their default play script, even though they are surrounded by different models of loving families. Even their own: the kids have grown up watching me have a healthy, loving relationship with their dad and with my girlfriend.
Many of the adults in their world are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. My girls have friends with single parents who were never married, friends whose parents are unmarried partners, friends whose parents are divorced. Looking around the crowd at any birthday party we go to makes it obvious that there’s more than one right way to make a family.
I’ve rarely fussed over how to talk with my kids about these issues. They’re young; modeling healthy relationships has been the simplest path.
While I still hope my actions will speak for themselves, Annie’s post made me think I should be doing more with words to let them know it’s OK for them to love whoever they love when they grow up. They might choose to marry a man, or a woman, or no one at all. They can have rich fulfilling lives with any of those choices.
Any suggestions for books, movies, etc. that show diverse happy family structures? Have you made a conscious effort to share your values about romantic love with your kids?