Introducing diverse families through play

“Mommy tree, Daddy tree, baby tree.”

“Mommy pear, baby pear.”

“Daddy cup, baby cup”

Whatever it is, if it is in a group of two, three, or more, my toddler will categorize by family member, according to size. I assume this is typical toddler making sense of the world behavior. I have found that these moments in play are a great time to introduce the concept of diverse families. If she is naming a trio of trees, sometimes I find another set of three and say “Mommy tree, mommy tree, baby tree” and follow with “Some babies have a mommy and daddy, some babies have two mommies” in an isn’t this exciting sort of tone. Similarly, a baby rock may have two daddies, a baby stick have two mommies, a baby grape have two daddies. Turns out, as I have learned from my daughter, everything can have a family which means everything can be used to broaden a toddler’s concept of family.

I do not do this everyday or several times in one day, the goal is not to interrupt her play time. Maybe I will 3 or 4 times in a week, and considering that we are together 24/7 and she is grouping whatever she sees several times a day, 3 or 4 times is really not much.

Each time she pauses just a couple seconds and I can see that amazing brain of hers is working, trying to take in and process this new information. Although she has contact with queer identifying people, we do not know any same sex couples right now nor have we met any toddlers with a queer identifying parent. So for now we learn through trees, grapes, blocks, or whatever she is enjoying at the time.

The goal is to normalize. I hope to see through her play at some point that she is beginning to understand, but like I was saying, I don’t push it. She is barely two. But by the time she is ready to understand larger concepts, I hope the idea that there are different formations of families is completely ordinary and that any mode of homophobia is irrational.

In what ways have you worked with and explored this topic with your kids?

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