As we celebrate and honor parents and families, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be opportunities for recognizing the diversity of family structures.
While some children have a mother and a father, others may have two moms, two dads, a single mom or dad, grandparents raising them, divorced parents or a whole range of other family situations.
Here are some ways to share with your children about diversity and inclusiveness of families they may see:
- Inclusive celebrations can serve as an important learning experience by providing opportunities to discuss and acknowledge the many kinds of families in our communities and the many caring adults who are in children’s lives.
- These holidays can also create teachable moments about gender and how the roles of mother and father are tied to certain gender stereotypes.
- For some children, this may be especially affirming to see their families acknowledged
Inclusive Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
- Make sure that you talk about the different people in your child’s lives who could receive any cards or gifts. On Mother’s Day, for example, a child could make something for an aunt or if they have two dads as primary caregivers, they could create cards in May and June.
- With older children, you can discuss the qualities that mothers, and fathers have and explore why these qualities have culturally been assigned to a specific gender. Questions you could discuss include:
- What are important qualities for parents to have? Can either a mom or dad have these?
- What kinds of things do parents do for or with their children? Can either a mom or dad do these?
- For younger children, steer clear of activities that involve gender-stereotyping – like making cards shaped like ties for Father’s Day.
- Celebrate Parents’ Day or Family Day rather than Mother’s Day or Father’s Day
- The expectation of making or buying something for their mothers, aunts, grandma’s, uncles, dads, etc. on these days can weigh heavy on children, just assure the children that a simple hug or the words ‘I Love You’ can have the same meaning as buying or making things. The key is to be sensitive and help those children who need it, so that they do not have to handle challenges alone.