Children Raised in Non-Traditional Families Can Be Secure and Well-Adjusted
It is big news that marriage equality is now legal in New York. Yesterday we asked if nannies would work for LGBT parents. Today we share great advice to consider when working with children raised by same sex parents.
We tend to define non-traditional families as any family that isn't a married nuclear family including one father and one mother. Non-traditional families include: same sex parents, co-habitating families, single parent families, blended families of divorce, commuter families, and foster families. In America, the non-traditional family is becoming the norm.
Below Jan Hare, Oh.D., of Oregon State University explains that children raised in non-traditional families can be secure and well-adjusted.
Here was some of her advice:
Have the parents tell you how they want you to define their family to their children. Speak to the children as the parents direct you to. One of the best definitions of family is: A family is a group of people who love and take care of each other.
Consider your own attitudes. Sometimes caregivers unknowingly convey a negative sense of the family to children. For example, single-parent families are sometimes viewed as broken families. It is important to emphasize that they may not be broken nor need fixing. Love and caring for each other make a family strong and whole.
Talk about the many different ways people can be a family. Children can better understand your meaning if you use examples of people they know. For instance, you might say: "Jenni's parents don't live together anymore. Jenni lives with her mother and her mother's partner, Scott."
Encourage children to ask questions. In order for children to understand what might be a complicated family situation, they need to feel comfortable asking whatever questions may be on their minds.
Recognize potential societal barriers. A complicated situation may develop when adults of the same sex join together. Gay men and lesbians often experience prejudice. As a result, children can be fearful about disclosing information about their family.
Patience and understanding often go a long way toward creating acceptance. Many children who are allowed to control what their peers know about the family eventually gain the confidence to acknowledge the adults' relationship and cope well with responses from others. Peers who sense the child's own comfort often accept the family situation. Let children control the information they want to give. If a new stepfather is about to join a single-parent family, allow children to tell their friends about the marriage.
Have you ever worked for a non-traditional family? If so, what type of non-traditional family have you worked for?