Families look different for everyone
With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it reminded me of just how different families can be and how little the rest of the world pays attention. While some children are raised in the “traditional” two parent household, others live in multi-generational family households, or single parent households. Some children are in foster homes and some have more unique living situations. Supporting LGBTQ+ Families is imperative to our mission.
More and more LGBTQ+ people are creating families of their own. It’s time to start asking questions to children and families about how they celebrate their unique family. Unfortunately, they come up against their own interesting set of struggles with the “traditional” celebration of family. This week my child created a Mother’s day gift for me. They took a small step to be inclusive, which I appreciated. They helped him to do a single project that said, “Happy Mother’s Day x2”. That was a start and I was glad they acknowledged the difference in my family.
Best Practice for Those Working With Families
- Don’t assume ANYTHING
- Don’t assume that someone is “the guy” or “the girl” in the family dynamic
- Get to know your clients and ask them about their family
- Don’t assume all families are the same
- Be understanding and non-judgmental by checking your values at the door
- For any parent/caretaker holiday activities, ask children and families who they would like to celebrate in advance. Keep activity parameters lose.
- Mother’s day (bio moms, adoptive moms, grandmas, foster mom, aunts, mentors, donors, 2 moms, step-parents, any person they self-describe as being a “Mother” to them, or any person who they want to celebrate on that particular day)
- Fathers Day (bio dads, adoptive dads, grandpa, foster dad, uncles, mentors, donors, 2 dads, step-parents, or any person they self-describe as being a “father” to them, or any person who they want to celebrate on that particular day)
- Know that sometimes in LGBTQ+ families, one parent will take one holiday and the other will take the other holiday to make sure that both parents are celebrated
- Get to know your acronyms and stay informed
- Post signage to show your area is a “safe place” for LGBTQ+ people
Just be inclusive
In closing, these types holiday (and all other holiday’s) must be inclusive. We need to work on opening up society’s comfort level with unique families. This principle fits with the NASW value of the “importance of human relationship“. These types of holiday’s and celebrations are about children and their caregivers. Ultimately, the holidays are about cerebrating the beauty that is each and every family. Being inclusive is at the root of being a social worker and through our work, we can hope to inform all professionals working with these clients.