Dear My Little Yoni: How to Teach Kids Every Diverse Family is Absolutely Normal
Dear My Little Yoni,
How do I explain to my kids that not all families look the same? My daughter has been confused because her best friend lives with two moms, and that’s new to her. I want her to know that there’s different parenting configurations, including LGBTQ+ families. How can I best explain this to her?” - Jeannie
First off, it’s totally normal for kids to have questions like this, especially when they see something they aren’t familiar with. Explaining to your daughter that families come in all shapes and sizes will only benefit your child’s development. She'll see there are many ways that families exist and there’s no one right way to have a family. This can help your daughter be more accepting of others, as well as more empowered to have a family the way she wants to, down the road.
You can start to normalize this conversation by the way you react to your child’s questions. If you get nervous or flustered, your daughter might pick up on these cues. But if you explain to her calmly and matter of fact, she’ll see this topic isn’t that big of a deal, and that everyone’s families are unique in their own way. Kids generally treat information the same way their parents do. If you make sure to let your daughter know that other family structures are normal and that you are comfortable talking about it, she’ll follow your lead.
It can be a good idea to begin by explaining that people become parents in many different ways. Parents can conceive a child through sexual reproduction, they can adopt a child, or they can have a surrogate carry the child through pregnancy. All these are normal and valid ways to have children. There are also situations where a child only has one parent, and even situations where a child has one biological parent and another who is not biological.
You can share with your daughter about your own family story. How did you and her other parent decide to create a family? And if your daughter’s friend is comfortable, you can ask her parents how they decided to start a family, too. Again, emphasizing that all these family types are valid, like your family, will show her that it’s normal to have two moms.
Emphasize the similarities you share with different family structures, rather than the differences. Explain to your daughter, “Your friend’s Moms are actually really similar to us! They make their kids do chores, their homework, and go to bed early on school nights too.” This will help your child see that even though her friend doesn’t have the “traditional” mom and dad, she has two parents who care about her.
Take this as an opportunity to also share kids may not always live with their parents. Some kids have grandparents who take care of them, aunts or uncles who care for them, or even foster parents. This is normal, too.
The most important thing to explain to your daughter is that even though some families look different from yours, they are connected the same way you are, through love! Her friend’s Moms love each other the same way other parents do, and they love their child in the same way you love your daughter. During this conversation, discuss that relationships can exist in any combination (woman/man, man/man, woman/woman, etc.) and that love has nothing to do with biological sex or gender.* (You might want to get our two books ‘Yoni Magic: Breaking the Binary’, and ‘Yoni Magic: Loving LGBTQ’.) Share that this is why while families can look different from each other they are still normal, loving families.
Teaching children to respect and appreciate differences is a vital lesson. It will help them accept families different from them, accept people different from them, and accept themselves if they ever decide to raise a “non-traditional” family. Your daughter will likely accept your explanation quickly and move on. But if she has more questions about sexuality, be sure to check out our book, Yoni Magic: Loving LGBTQ+, for a more in-depth guide. Good families are good families. They share more similarities with each other than differences and the number one similarity is LOVE!