Why make Mother’s Day more inclusive
If a child is being raised by a same-sex couple it can feel isolated, the same way that if a person who doesn’t identify as a mother is called one, or even someone who was adopted.
There are foster families, grandparents, unmarried biological parents, aunts, and so many people that stepped into mothering roles, that don’t feel acknowledged on this day. Without forgetting children that might have lost their mother figure and are dealing with loss or are grieving. Also, women that can’t conceive, or those without a mother figure in their lives such as a gay couple or a single father.
There is always space to celebrate everyone and to be mindful that we can all be more respectful of everyone’s feelings. So, let’s not make this day a painful celebration for anyone and respect those that don’t want to celebrate it or can’t. We can all agree that it’s a beautiful day, for sure, but making it better is our duty as better human beings.
Another name for Mother’s Day
We also need to consider that a mother is not always a birth giver, it’s someone that identifies as such. It’s time we consider that not everyone has a nuclear or traditional family, and we should adapt our thoughts and actions to it. A person can have two mothers, a single father, two fathers, be raised by a grandparent or a foster family or transgender parents. A birth parent might no longer identify as a mother. Regardless of the situation, we all need to make sure that these people feel included and are appreciated with the language and gestures we use for Mother’s Day, or other events that include the concept of family.
One way for schools, and all of us, to create a more inclusive Mother’s Day is to refer to it as Happy Your Day, or Special Person Day. We also must assure that if we send a card or wish a Happy Mother’s Day to someone, that person identifies as a mother because there are single dad parents or transgender parents that don’t identify as a mother. So, instead of Happy Mother’s Day, you might wish them a Happy You Day.
Other conversations about Mother’s Day
It’s about time we all stop saying that having children is something that will complete a woman, it’s just misogynist and judgy. A woman is a person, in her own right without or with children. Also, some women wish to have children and cannot, and saying they are incomplete is a total lack of respect.
Is it too much?
We’ve heard those comments that point out that we are all going way too far with inclusivity and getting too sensitive, and too worried. We have all been called or heard a few words that deeply hurt our feelings, and that made us feel at our worst. So, being empathic is the ability to put ourselves in other people's shoes and try to think how much words and names can hurt someone, sometimes for a lifetime. What we say has a real impact on others. So why should our attitude towards Mother’s Day be any different? This is how we evolve as a better society.
It's time to change, to consider other people’s feelings, and to acknowledge a more inclusive Mother’s Day - sometimes just with a simple word change. We all deserve respect and support because our families are no longer a Brady Bunch concept, kids are being raised by single parents, adoptive parents, same-sex parents, or blended families. And they all deserve to be included in Mother’s Day.
Parents can make a difference
Teach your children about all types of families. It’s so important that children learn to respect one another’s differences. For instance, if a child asks if a family can have two moms or two dads, you should say yes. Remind your children that families come in different shapes and forms, but what matters is everyone is cared for and loved.
Include LGBTQ families
Sometimes LGBTQ families celebrate Mother’s Day, other times, they don’t. There is not a rule we can expect everyone to follow. If you’re not sure if a LGBTQ family celebrates Mother’s Day or not, just ask, don’t make assumptions. Celebrations could be about Mother’s Day, and Parent’s Day could be about a surrogate, a birth parent, or a donor.
Building a broader definition of what it means to be a family shouldn’t be the responsibility of LGBTQ families alone. You can pick toys and books with diverse characters; you can tell stories that include all kinds of characters such as two parents of the same sex. Emphasize love. We all can help. Ask your kid’s teacher if they are including inclusivity on this day? If not, challenge them to do it and be part of the change. You don’t need to be an LGBTQ parent to ask for this, and to talk about inclusivity - don’t expect LGBTQ parents to do it only, it’s everyone's responsibility.
Tips for everyone, including teachers
You can see Mother’s Day as an inclusive day and make it about family, for the families that wish to do so.
If you’re a schoolteacher, make sure you include activities on Mother’s Day that celebrate everyone and every spectrum of families. This day can be very hard, not just for parents but for the children that might feel left out or that they don’t belong. Sometimes children don’t share their family structure with their teachers or other children, so try to be aware of it.
Try to pay attention to children that shy away during this day. Never assume that a child has a mother or a father. Don’t forget to share inclusive stories, because the more everyone hears about these experiences the more inclusive we’ll become.
If you’re in contact with an LGBTQ family and don’t know what to do, just go with the words they use to describe themselves. If you have no idea, ask.
Talk and mention all kinds of families in your conversations, not just on this day but during every opportunity that presents itself. Not every family has a mom or dad, so make sure there is a safe place to celebrate every relationship.
Avoid gender stereotypes, stay away from drawings that only feature one type of family, cards that say that flowers are for mom, and that a car is for dad, or that men are strong, and women are sensitive. Talk about these gender stereotypes, and address mother and father qualities that are not culturally assigned to each gender.
Always take into consideration the children that don’t have a parent, that might have lost one, or that don’t have a relationship with them. So, when planning a celebration such as Mother’s Day, try to figure out which other adult or adults the child has a special bond with, and include them in the drawings, texts, or other activities. Ask their parent or guardian who is the person they are closest to.
Don’t make this day about exclusion, it is supposed to be about love.