Today’s Modern Family: How to Be Inclusive When Speaking With Kids by Reene McGreevy

Today’s Modern Family: How to Be Inclusive When Speaking With Kids

I am many things: a mother, a wife and a school nurse. I am also someone who lost a parent at a young age. I was 16 years old when my mother passed away. I always felt different after she died because I no longer fit in with the “norm” of living with both a mother and father. I became very sensitive about it, almost embarrassed, and I stopped correcting people when they spoke about my mom as if she were alive.

Today, I work with children on a daily basis. I try to be very conscious of the fact that not everyone grows up in a house with a mom and dad. Some have parents who have passed away, some are in prison, some have never been involved and some have two moms or two dads.

No one means to hurt feelings when saying things like “tell your mom when you get home” or “didn’t your mother ever teach you to?” but unfortunately it does hurt. Here are some alternatives that I like to use when speaking to children:

  • Who do you live with at home?
  • Who is your grownup at home?
  • Who takes care of you at home?

With family dynamics more diverse than ever, I think it’s important to be more sensitive and not assume anything. It seems small, but goes a very long way!

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Nikki Alcala
Great tip! Thanks for sharing!
Elisa All Schmitz 30Seconds
Excellent point, Reene McGreevy ! You are so right about being sensitive to family differences and being inclusive. Thank you for sharing your amazing personal story, and for this wonderful tip. Welcome to our 30Seconds tribe. Can’t wait to learn and grow with you!
Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
I LOVE this, Reene McGreevy . Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights with us. I think many can learn from your experience as a child and your experience working with kids now. Welcome!
Nancy Stoliker
Very thoughtful piece Reene. Your Mom would be so proud to know you were able to turn the sadness of her loss into an insightful lesson. Families are formed in a variety of ways, and people tend to forget that fact of life. We had a similar experience with the adopton of our daughter. Often people will ask insensitive questions like (Do you know your "real" mother? ...etc.) It's important to teach youngsters that families come in all sorts of varieties. This helps them to see they need not feel different or odd because there really is no "norm." That's just an ideal made up in pop culture. Hopefully learning these things as children will create more accepting adults in the near future.

Thank you for reminding us to be more considerate. ❤
Meredith Schneider
Thanks for sharing Reene McGreevy ! It's amazing how diverse family dynamics are today. I'm amazed when talking to my kids about their friends and how different everyone's family dynamics are from when we were kids. I've always told my kids you never know what background some kids are coming from and you never know what goes on behind closed doors. If someone seems different, sad or not acting the same it could be something going on a home. Be sensitive, be a good friend and let them know you are there for them if they need to talk. Thanks for all you do being a school nurse. I love our school nurse at the elementary school where are youngest two out of four kids go. It's been a busy flu season for her, as I'm sure for all school nurses.
Terri Jones
When you read my latest story, you'll see how much I can relate to this! Everyone's family dynamics are different, but that's what makes us all such unique, interesting adults.

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