“Parenting does not require D-N-A – it requires L-O-V-E.”
This is a sentiment echoed by millions of people across the world who are part of an adoptive family. In today’s society, you see families made up of people who have different color skin or ethnic backgrounds. There are families with two dads, two moms, one dad, or one mom. Families can consist of adoptive parents and birth parents. These days, anything goes. Love brings people together as a family.
And even though mixed families and adoption are mainstream today, some people do struggle with the fact that the “typical” family is not like it was in the past. The average “Leave It to Beaver” type of family from the 1950s is not as prominent. So, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children this Valentine’s Day is to help them appreciate their family’s uniqueness, as well as help them learn to accept, respect, and include people whom they may see as being different. Educating our children early will help shape them into more accepting and loving adults.
As children become more aware of the varied family structures of today, they are provided with rich opportunities to celebrate family diversity and engage in conversations about who is in their family, who lives in their house, or more importantly, who takes care of them. “Uncle” John may not be related by blood, but he is a family friend who watches the kids after school a few days a week. “Grandma” Sharon may be the next-door neighbor who comes over for dinner every Sunday and spoils the kids as if they were her own. And the birth mom whom they FaceTime with on Saturdays may feel like a beloved aunt. It takes a village, to be sure.
Children tend to flourish when they come to understand that, while families are structured differently, they are similar in the fact that they are created out of love. Reiterating this message helps children feel safe and secure in their family, as well as appreciate other families who look different than theirs.
So, this Valentine’s Day, let’s celebrate all families and their differences. Let’s teach our children to love themselves and their family. Let’s teach them to love the fact that they are unique, their family is unique, all families are unique. Love makes the world go ‘round. Love makes a family.