This month, the #Streamteam email from Netflix was all about families, and the discussion it initiated taught me something about myself – that I assume far too much about our children
After checking out the recommended list of programs (see below) and choosing some of them to watch during the month with the kids, I went into the kitchen to prep for dinner.
“We’re going to watch all kinds of programs & movies about families this month” I said
“But you said we could watch Despicable Me & Kung Fu Panda” said Evey “They’re not about families”
“What do you think a family is?” I asked and I was very surprised by her answer
“A family is a mum and a dad and their children” She said with a serious face “You’re a mum, you should know that”
This is the point were I was shown that I made a huge assumption – our children don’t necessarily pick up on our own thoughts and beliefs. It had never occurred to me that Evey would consider the traditional ‘nuclear’ model as the only type of family. I obviously had some work to do here.
“Some families have two Mums or two Dads” I said and before I could say anything else she started laughing at me.
“You’re silly mummy” she laughed “How could two mummies or two daddies make a baby? You need a lady & a man to make babies, you taught me that”
Cue a long pause while I considered the difficulties of explaining sperm and egg donation, IVF and surrogacy to an overly inquisitive 6 year old. I continued chopping carrots extra slowly, trying to buy myself some time.
“Well,” I said extra slowly “Sometimes a mummy and a daddy need some help to make a baby so they go to a special doctor who can help them. It’s the same for two mummies or two daddies. They can go to a doctor to help them make a baby”
I pause with baited breath while this peculated in her mind and waited for the inevitable difficult follow-up questions. I wasn’t ready for a discussion about eggs and sperm while I prepped dinner.
Phew! Difficult questions dodged – back to the easier stuff.
“Sometimes a family is a group of people who love and care for each other, like Po & the Furious Five. Po is adopted but his adopted daddy is still his family, his daddy, because he is the one who looked after him & loves him. The Furious Five are his other family because they are all close to each other, look after each other and love each other – that is the important part of being a family – not being connected by blood”
As usual with kids, once she had an explanation she found acceptable she abruptly changed the subject. I found myself thrown suddenly into a conversation about owls and while I rolled with this, the families discussion was still at the forefront of my mind.
The next day we discussed families again and found lots of pictures online, showing many, many different kinds of family. We also printed out loads of pictures of individual people, cut them out and stuck them onto lolly sticks. Then whenever we watch a program or movie we made copies of the families we saw. After almost a month Evey put together a list to answer the question “What is a family?” and here is what she came up with:
- Some families have one mum & one dad, some have two mummies or two daddies, some have one mum or one dad and some don’t have any mum or dad. They can have a nanny & granddad or an auntie and cousins or anything else you can think of.
- You don’t have to make a baby yourself, in a mummies tummy, to have a baby. If you adopt a little one then they are still your baby, even if you didn’t make them yourself.
- When you grow up you are still a family.
- Some people have two or even more families.
- A group of friends can be a kind of family if they live together and look after each other.
- Families do not have to be all the same colour or from the same country or even speak the same language.
- When someone in your family goes to live in another house, you can still love each other and still be family.
Now Evey is a family diversity expert and will talk about it at great length. She’ll certainly put anyone straight if they make the mistake of telling her one mum, one dad & their children are the only way to go!
We illustrated this post with some of the pictures Evey found & she helped me put them together in collages. If you would like to watch some of the programs or movies that Netflix suggested for this months family theme, here is the full list: