2013 Blogging for LGBT Families Day: Getting Creative

Blogging for LGBT Families Day 2013For Addison’s second birthday, my Auntie Debbie gave her a set of Fisher Price Little People. It was a bride and groom with a fancy carriage and wedding cake… and a second bride and groom, because she wanted Addison to be able to mix and match – two brides, two grooms, or a bride and groom. (Yes, my Auntie is awesome.)

As my auntie found out when shopping for Addison’s present, when your family is not embraced by the mainstream, it is often hard to find toys for your children that reflect their reality. Sometimes you have to be creative.

Addie's Fisher Price Little People Brides

Addie’s Fisher Price Little People Brides

Children’s books featuring LGBT families present a similar challenge. Nowadays, we have more options than the classic, “Heather Has Two Mommies,” but not all that many. Before Addison was born, I went to Barnes & Nobles to pick up books that feature lesbian moms. I came home empty handed. Undeterred, I scoured the Internet and bought every single children’s book with two moms – all three of them. There were also a handful about different family structures, two dads, or kids who fell outside of traditional gender roles, so I bought those too.

Addie reading, "Mommy, Mama, and Me."

Addie reading, “Mommy, Mama, and Me.”

When we found out this past December that we were expecting twins, I went back online to buy Addie books about being a big sister. None of them feature a two-mom family, so every time I read the books, I change “Dad” to “Mama.” My haircut makes it an easy switch – she just assumes the character in the book with short hair is the mama; but it will not be long before she figures out my trick.

Though it seems trivial to bemoan the lack of LGBT-inclusive children’s toys and books in mainstream stores when we are still fighting for nationwide marriage equality rights, equal protection in the workplace, and access to myriad other rights, I cannot help but long for the days when my children will be able to walk into a bookstore and find a plethora of books that reflect their two-mom family. That will be a true sign that America has embraced our families as one of its own.

About Jen

Outdoor adventurer and traveler. Writer, Photographer & Communications Professor. Wife. Mom of twins plus one. Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador. Blogger at gayfamilytrips.com.

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16 Responses to 2013 Blogging for LGBT Families Day: Getting Creative

  1. CJ June 3, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    That is our favorite as well!! Or daughter had it memorized! And I am not looking forward to the day she realizes Mama is not spelled d-a-d!

  2. Patricia Herr June 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    I long for the day when all families are accepted by the mainstream. It’s utterly insane that even now, in 2013, homosexual couples can’t be legally married in any state they choose.

    You know, if there’s a lack of appropriate parenting books that reflects your family’s situation, then you could always write one yourself. Seriously. If the “big” publishers don’t take note, then sell it as an e-book. I’m sure many LGBT families would be appreciative.

    Trish

    • Jen June 4, 2013 at 9:07 am #

      I think I’ve got a summer project ;)

  3. jennyj June 3, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    Great post. Maybe YOU should write a few kids books and Addison could be the star!

    • Jen June 4, 2013 at 9:08 am #

      I love it! First book – Addison and her moms go camping!

  4. Robin June 4, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    I agree Jen. I think Kendra should write the book – she’s an English teacher and anyone who likes Atlas Shrugged should have NO trouble writing about a normal family that’s a little bit different from what some people think as ‘standard’, yet filled with way more love than most. If she doesn’t write it, perhaps I will write it for you. I think that when Addie is having her own kids, whether with another woman or a man, there will be as many ww/mm families are there are wm families. After all, when I was a kid there were only 2 parent families… now there are many one parent families and the 2 parent families are just not the same as when I was a kid. The world is getting there cousin. I’m just thankful our family get there on the ground floor! RR

    • Jen June 4, 2013 at 9:09 am #

      And I’m thankful I have family like you who support and love us :)

  5. Janeiack June 4, 2013 at 8:08 am #

    Jen, as you know, I am all for writing or creating books that reflect the non-traditional family. The project can be done by both parent and child with shared writing and illustrations. I appreciate how you and Kendra have made your daughter so aware of different families. She will continue to gain perspective all her life. I do think it is important to read the mass of children’s books on the market, however, and to talk about societal norms and unique differences.

    • Jen June 4, 2013 at 9:06 am #

      Jane, we do read Addison books about heterosexual families as well. I think those represent a different type of family – to say they represent a “societal norm” implies that any other family combination is somehow outside of the norm. Given the high divorce rate, I’d say that there is no “normal” family anymore, as there is no family combination with a distinct majority? Flip this to a race issue – parents of color face a similar situation. Most toys and books reflect white families. Does this mean that parents of color should not be frustrated, and rather explain to their child that there are more books about white people because they are the “societal norm” and their family is unique because of their skin color? We all long to be reflected in the world around us, rather than marginalized. I am not expecting the toy industry to suddenly “go gay,” rather I would like to be able to read to my children about families like ours, in addition to reading about other family structures. I shouldn’t have to make my own books anymore than an African-American mother should have to make a book for her children. I am looking for the world to be more inclusive, and cognizant of the fact that there are many types of families not just those comprised of married, white, heterosexual parents.

      • Janeiack June 4, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

        Jen, you are “Preaching to the Choir”. You know I respect and love the way you teach Addie, read to her, manage your family. I also chose to have a 32 year teaching career in “inner city” Greenville, SC. I know there is an insensitivity in our culture. I know what “sells” and drives our economy, and it is insensitive to societal differences. I appreciate what you have said, and know it is true. I guess I was making an attempt to be a mother in a culture where differences are not celebrated. I believe I have been a parent who celebrated differences. One of our friends said we should have the SC Diversity Award. You are right about the absence of childrens’ books with cultural diversity, but they have expanded a great deal since the 1970’s when I was nurturing children in a southern, rural community. I feel I gave my children an innovative view of diversity in America with limited literature. Guess I just had a “generational gap”?

        • Jen June 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

          Well you must have done something right – you made the most diverse family on the planet! (If only we had a golfer too – maybe one of the twins will pick it up!) And I am glad you’re my mother in law – you keep me on my toes.

  6. Andy Amick June 4, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    That’s awesome that your aunt gave two sets of little people so they could be arranged differently. And the “Addison and her moms go camping!” is a great idea for a book.

  7. Ali Polizzi September 18, 2013 at 2:20 am #

    My wife and I are “Ema” and “Mom” so we change “Mama” from “Mommy, Mama, and Me” to “Ema, Mommy and Me”.
    You’re right – this gets annoying.

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