Since I was fourteen years old I have lived in an alternative family. At least that is what the rest of society has told me. When the issue of what is family comes into a conversation I admit I am extremely passionate about what I have to say. I also tend to hold a bit of resentment, because when I was fourteen my “normal” family status was taken away from me when my father was killed in an automobile accident. Of course my friends and most of the people at school understood my situation, but meeting new people has always been difficult. The conversations often start like this:
New person: “Do you live with your mom and dad?”
Me: “I live with my mom.”
Now the new person may have one of two responses, the first being “Where’s your dad?” Well, a religious person may say heaven, a cynical person may be far too blunt and relay the name of the graveyard. Me on the other hand I simply say he’s passed. That question is frustrating to answer, but nothing bugs me more than when someone simply states “Oh, so your parents are divorced.”
I understand that half of marriages end in divorce these days, but there is so much more to family than a mom, a dad, and eventually divorce. Like I said before I hold some resentment, but this isn’t just about me and my family situation. This is for the children with gay parents, the children in foster homes or still stuck in orphanages, the children with amazing grandparents, but no one to call “mom” and “dad” or those children whose parents ARE divorced, but who still live amazing and amicable lives with both their parents. It’s about all of us.
A simple step that I have taken to remain impartial is taking the words mom and dad out of the question. When talking to someone new just ask them about their parents, and don’t assume that your family is everyone’s family. There are a lot more alternatives to family these days than your cliché episode of “The Brady Bunch.” It is so refreshing to turn on the TV and see a show that’s not titled “Alternative Family,” but “Modern Family.” That’s what I have, an amazing modern family.