And the award for family of the year goes to…

Football season has been the prime time focus for many Minnesotans, regardless of their interest in sports, thanks to this year’s Super Bowl. So much so, in fact, that many have forgotten we are in the middle of another big season for TV consumption, and I am not referring to winter…

Awards season kicked off with the Golden Globes, most recently celebrated the SAG awards, and will end in March with the Academy Awards. While I have historically not had much interest in either football or awards season, for me, 2018 was more personal. With football, the investment is perhaps more obvious. I wanted to cheer on the home team that could go down in history books as the first to have home-field advantage in a Super Bowl.

With the awards shows, I wasn’t necessarily pulled in because of the #metoo movement, or because of the first all-female presenters night (though both are historically significant in their own right). Instead, I found myself invested in the stories being awarded, and what these stories have meant to the individuals and families I see or talk to every day. Don’t get me wrong, I have always enjoyed movies and TV shows. As a child roughly thirty years ago, “Growing Pains” or “Family Ties” helped shape my ideas of family, or at least what family was supposed to be.

Even though my family never fit the script exactly, it made me feel better to watch shows as I got older that reflected more complicated family dynamics. When my parent’s divorced in the nineties, I had “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “The First Wives Club” to watch. As I went to high school, “The L Word” and “Queer as Folk” depicted families I had never seen… When I went away to college, people gathered together to watch “Modern Family” and “Parenthood,” processing similar experiences we had in our own lives.

Today, I can watch any show and see families where disabilities, chronic health, and socioeconomic status are as multifaceted as orientation, color, and gender identity. I can watch families brought together by choice (“Transparent”), necessity (Marvel’s “Runaways”), and accident (“Catastrophe”). These shows are winning awards, becoming lenses through which to see the world and references for pop culture.

As parents, most of us grew up in an environment where it was easier to talk about anyone else’s family besides our own. We never learned to talk openly about mental health, LGBTQIA, or non-traditional families. Our kids, however, have grown up in a different world, where traditional models of family, love, or communication are not standard, and entertainment can only bridge the gap so much.

Have young kids and want to get a jump-start on the hard talks? Scroll down to some reading suggestions at the bottom of this blog. Need a bit more support? Through individual and/or family therapy, our team acts as a translator, mediator, and mirror between family members. We help you to bridge gaps between family members, align expectations, and establish what the right kind of normal is for your family.

Reading list:

LGBTQIA
– “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell
– “Heather has Two Mommies” by Leslea Newman
– “King and King” by Linda de Haan, Stern Nijland
– “Who Are You?: The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity” by Brook Pessin-Whedbee
– “My Princess Boy” by Cheryl Kilodavis

Adoption
– “The Day We Met You” by Phoebe Koehler
– “Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born” by Jamie Lee Curtis
– “I Love You All The Same” by Donna Keith, Allson Edgson
– “Over The Moon: An Adoption Tale” by Karen Katz

Divorce/Step-Parent
– “Why Do Families Change?: Our First Talk About Separation and Divorce” by Jillian Roberts
– “Two Homes” by Claire Masurel
– “Daddy’s Getting Married” by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos
– “My Mom’s Wedding” by Eve Bunting
– “Dinosaurs Divorce” by Marc Brown, Laurene Krasny Brown

Modern Families
– “Who’s in a Family?” by Robert Skutch
– “Love Is a Family” by Roma Downey
– “All Families are Special” by Norma Simon
– “The Family with Many Colors” by Emma Louise, William Thomas
– “Who’s in My Family?: All about Our Families” by Robie H. Harris
– “My Rainbow Family” by K. R. Vance
– “All Kinds of Families!” by Mary Ann Hoberman
– “A Family Is a Family Is a Family” by Sara O’Leary