Monday, February 16, 2015

Family Day: Diverse & inclusive? Not really...

So as I blogged earlier today, it's "Family Day" in my province.  And while the media has been full of reports about what's open and what's not, and suggestions about fun activities families can do together, I had gone the entire weekend without encountering a single news article or report that waxed poetic about happy families and their importance to society, etc.

Until this morning.

The Life section of the Toronto Star included an article headlined "Family Day: 1,000 Families Project showcases diverse shapes a family can take." OK, family diversity, that's encouraging, right?

  I started reading: 14 years as a parenting editor, [Brandie] Weikle says she is aware of the default voice in media that assumes your family reflects a Norman Rockwell scenario.  
"If your family doesn’t look like that, it can feel a little excluding,” she says.
Agreed.  OK, so far, so good.

I read on. The examples of diverse families mentioned in the article include:
  • a single mom who co-parents her daughter with grandma,
  • dad comes out and the marriage ends, but the family unit does not,
  • a single mom with two kids who lives next door to her ex-husband,
  • a father living with his brother and his wife to save money, with all the cousins living like siblings,
  • a polyamorous relationship that includes three adults living and bringing up their children together, and    
  • a family that includes a friend living with them in an "uncle" role.
Nowhere does the article acknowledge or even hint that there can be families of two -- by choice or by circumstance. Nowhere does the article acknowledge or even hint that a family doesn't necessarily have to include kids, by definition.   

Then, near the end, the kicker:
"Weikle says she is looking for more story submissions from families of all kids with different cultural backgrounds and structures." [emphasis mine]
I went to the actual website that is the focus of the story. The welcome message promises "thought-provoking posts on the issues parents are talking about most." And invites reader submissions "about what life with kids is like for you. Whether you parent with a partner, extended family member, friends you can’t live without or on your own, we want to hear from you."

Well. Clearly, they don't want to hear from ME.  Or any of us out there whose family does not include children. (Even if we WANTED it to include children.)  Clearly, in their definition, family = children (living children, at any rate), and involves active parenting.

So discouraging. :(

As I have said/written before -- I am glad we (finally) have a holiday in February -- but oh, how I wish they had come up with a different name for it.  :p


  1. I recently read a children's book that talked about family diversity. And I was surprised (delightfully so) that they talked about families consisting of 2 adults.

    I think you should submit your story to that website. I think your point is a valid one and would be eye-opening for the author. After all, we recognizes families of all shapes and sizes; your's should not be excluded.

  2. Discouraging is right. And by excluding those of us in a family of two (OED definition includes this one - "people related by blood or marriage" - they are in fact depriving all those other families of our involvement, of us being part of their community. And that's a loss for everyone.

    I'm with you - I hate the name of that holiday.

  3. You know, I had thought upon hearing the name of the holiday that it was a nice balance to Mother's Day or Father's Day, providing a way for all families to celebrate. Though with the defintion of family still being too narrow to actually be inclusive, I'll take back the nice thoughts.

  4. It is annoying that a family of 2 is not even mentioned. Especially when they go into a lot of less common scenarios! I think society just sees a family of 2 as a "couple"... which is one way of describing it... but we are still a family. To me, a family is a group of 2 or more people make a home and life together. Alas, I think it may be while until we get to be thought of as family.

  5. I completely agree. I'm not sure where I fit in, probably not at all. I'm not, nor have ever been married. I have a dog.
    While I do celebrate Mother's Day, it is for my own Mother. My Father has passed away and I have only one sibling, a sister, luckily we are close.
    Who is MY family on "Family Day"?

  6. Here from the round up. I have to admit I never thought much about the significance of Family Day - to me it has always been another day to sleep in and fart around (if there isn't a pile of chores and errands to do). But perhaps my perspective is skewed because I have never taken any holidays particularly seriously (with the exception of Remembrance Day.) It would certainly be nice to have more up front inclusion. Although the sleeping in part is still by far the most important to me. :-D