Father’s Day is this weekend and many of us will be scratching our heads trying to find the perfect gift for dear old dad. Traditionally, the foolproof gift was an expensive whiskey or a flashy new tie for the favourite guy in our life. Problem is, what if there is no father? Nowadays, the family unit isn’t just dad and mum. More children are being raised by same-sex parents, single parents, adoptive parents or grandparents.
As we recognise and celebrate the diverse family structures we see around us, it’s important that we honour students who are being raised by mum and dad, two dads, two mums, single parents, divorced parents or even blended families. Whatever the family dynamic, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are great holidays for inclusive celebrations.
Why inclusivity matters
Inclusive celebrations provide excellent learning opportunities. For one, they allow children to acknowledge and examine the various family structures that can be seen in society. Secondly, it opens up the discussion about gender stereotypes and the roles that fathers and mothers play in different families. Moreover, recognising familial diversity can be powerfully affirming to students. It allows them to feel seen and understood, positivity effecting their confidence at school, emotionally and academically.
How to celebrate inclusively in the classroom
- Have students talk about the different people that could receive cards or gifts. For example, a child could make something for an uncle or grandparent on Father’s Day. If they have two mums, they could make cards in May and June.
- Avoid activities that involve gender stereotyping, such as making cards in the shape of a tie.
- For older students, start an open dialogue about parents and gender stereotypes.
- What are important qualities parents should have and whether mothers or fathers should have them.
- What kind of things do parents do with their children? Can either mum or dad do these?
- Have students draw or bring in a picture of their family and talk about it as a class. Activities around family require sensitivity and support as some children may have an absent parent or have experienced parental loss.
Suggested books to start the conversation about diverse family structures:
- Daddy, Pappa, and Me by Lesléa Newman
- The Family Book by Todd Parr
- The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman
- Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer