My first love was a childhood girlfriend, and I thought there was something wrong with me because of it. I had crushes on other girls throughout the rest of my childhood and adolescence that I tried to ignore as well, and definitely kept them to myself. Though my mother was very tolerant—in fact, after I grew up she says that she often wished her daughters would be lesbians—she never really opened up the subject to us at home, and I wanted to make sure that my daughter and I did.
So we regularly check out books about LGBT families and animals, and she will be the first to tell you that a family can consist of all kinds of people—from a grandmother and children to two mommies or daddies to adopted families. Like I stated in my post, I believe that such things should be integrated into your regular life rather than studied as a unit; for example, we incorporate cultural studies, feminist literature, LGBT picture books, and other diverse media into everything we learn about rather than compartmentalizing any of it.
During my research for the Teaching Tolerance post, I ran across a book we hadn’t read yet called Molly’s Family by Nancy Garden. The book is lovingly drawn by Sharon Wodding, with warm, fall colors and round features. We decided to check it out together last week, and it was very different from most of the LGBT literature we’ve read before.
For starters, it didn’t take the automatic stance that it was okay to be gay; in fact, it tells the story of Molly, a little girl who has two mothers—a mommy and a mama. The kids in her class ridicule her, telling her she can’t have two mommies; even her teacher is skeptical at first (which is weird; I would think that she would have already met her parents, since it’s a little kids’ class and they have open house and whatnot at that age). Molly begins to doubt that she can have two mothers herself.
Then she talks to her mothers, who explain how she was born—very basically, without any mention of how she was conceived, for any parents who might be concerned about the literature being too sexual for tiny kids—but she’s still not so sure about her two moms. Then she realizes that everyone in school has a different type of family—from a grandmother and a mother, to a single father, to families with lots of brothers and sisters. I really liked how they made that comparison, and when my daughter and I discussed it, we talked about how families differ all over the world, too—such as traditional extended families that often live together in Asia.
I would definitely recommend this book for any family’s bookshelf or unit study about families in general. The text can get a little long and dry at times, but otherwise it’s a really enjoyable book that provides lots of food for thought for little ones. My daughter was just flabbergasted as to why the other kids thought that Molly couldn’t have two mommies; she knows people from all kinds of families, including her cousins, who are raised by her grandparents instead of their own parents, and she just couldn’t fathom why anyone would say they weren’t a real family. Providing real life examples like this can help children further understand how diverse families are.