There is some irony in that question. What is a normal family, anyway?
Depending on your age, your grew up with Leave it to Beaver or the Brady Bunch, Family Ties or The Cosbys. Television and pop culture always has 'that' family. The one we want. The one that tells us we should be like them. The one where all their problems are sorted out in 30 minutes, minus the commercials and where everyone is laughing as the camera stops. Everyone has two parents or if not, a strong role model to substitute for the missing one. They all have siblings, a grandparent or two and not forgetting the wacky neighbor who gives us a laugh to break the serious moments.
And now - real life, take 1.
I guess I have a 'normal' family. Two parents, three kids, a home, two cars. But between the 5 of us we are citizens of 3 different countries and are of 2 different religions. Hmmm, maybe we're not quite as Beaver as I thought!
So what if you don't know who your Dad is or you haven't seen him in years? Your Mom is dead. Your grandparents are raising you because your Dad is in jail and your mom is on drugs. Your Dad is in a wheelchair or your Mom has a mental illness. You are an only child. Your sibling has Down's Syndrome or some other condition that makes other kids point. Your parents are gay. Or one just came out. You are adopted. Someone is morbidly obese. Your Mom is black and your Dad is white.
Maybe you're the gay parent or the one struggling with something that makes you feel alone.
There are a million other scenarios so forgive me if I omitted yours!
I'm not saying all this difference is good. We could hardly say that having a parent in prison is positive diversity for a child.
But none of us are alone.
According to the Urban Institute, there are more than 3 million gay households. (www.urban.org)
1 in 19 Americans born today is of mixed race. (Newsweek May 08, 2000)(www.newsweek.com)
One out of every 140 people in this country are currently in the prison system. (www.bbc.co.uk)
19.4% of Americans have some kind of disability (World Bank - www.worldbank.org)
28% of children are being raised in single parent households. http://social.jrank.org/pages/891/Family-Single-Parent-Households.html
If you or your family is different, what gives you comfort? What makes you at ease in your surroundings? What upsets you? How do you answer questions like 'how come your Dad isn't around?' or 'why does your Mom take all that medication?' What if it's you who is 'different'? Do you find support on line? In real life? Do you want to be like everyone else or do you enjoy your 'different' status?
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