The idea of the traditional nuclear family is becoming less and less of a defining factor for many families. In fact, less than half US children are even raised in traditional families in which their parents are two heterosexual adults in their first marriage. In order to better reflect the changing dynamic, there are more and more children's books for non-traditional families being published. One book in particular, I'm Not Different written and illustrated by Melanie McCluskey, is one of the best kids' books about non-traditional families available.
While many may consider Dr. Seuss books to be the best books you can read to your kids, exposing children to diversity at a young age can help them grow into accepting and open-minded adults. Yes, Green Eggs and Ham is great, but some of the best children’s books are now exploring complex relationships and family structures. I'm Not Different does so in a very unique matter, and helps children understand different family structures, from single-parenting to adoption.
This Book Specifically Addresses Several Modern Parenting Situations
In I'm Not Different by Melanie McCluskey, the reader experiences several different family structures all through a child's perspective. There are families who have adopted, single parents families, and several other non-heteronormative structures. In this book, no two families are exactly the same, which helps cement the idea that all families are different but equally happy. This book helps to expose children to the different types of modern families without necessarily exploring one family structure in particular. The book was originally self-published and is available here.
McCluskey Wrote The Book With Her Own Children In Mind
Acceptance of diversity is an important lesson for every human being. Fortunately, that lesson can be taught at a very young age through these books. As McCluskey wrote:
“I’m Not Different is a children’s book that confronts the stigmas of a non traditional family set up. I feel it’s important to address family life in a positive way, no matter the situation. Originally I wrote it for my own children to understand alternative families and embracing their uniqueness! It helps children to normalize their situation and know that they are no different to anyone else! Perfect for single parent families, same sex couples, adoption and more!”
Why It’s So Important For Children To Be Exposed To Different Family Structures
Exposing young children to diversity is very important, as it will give them a larger sense of the world at a very young age. Some parents may be worried about exposing their child to a larger conversation about sexuality. As specialists from Bright Horizons Family Solutions have explained, that’s not an issue:
“When children become aware of diverse family structures, they might ask a question such as, "Can someone have two mommies?" Usually when a young child asks such a question he is looking for a "yes" or "no." Children are not typically on a journey seeking a deeper level of understanding. Many of us tend to give more information than necessary, but young children don’t associate the adults in families with their sexual orientation. Preschool children are concrete thinkers and not ready for, nor do they want, a philosophical discussion. They do not yet have the cognitive ability nor the life experience to understand gay vs. straight relationships - nor are they interested. Young children are simply attempting to find their place in this big world and trying to make sense of the concept of family, whether traditional or non-traditional.”
Fewer Than Half US Children Live In A Traditional Family
Research shows that only 46% of children live in a traditional family structure, as in married heterosexual parents in their first marriage. Traditional families have been on the decline for quite some time. In 1960, it as reported that 73% children were in a traditional home. Then in 1980, it was 61%.
This change is due to many reasons. Most notably, divorce has left many raising their children while in a second marriage or as a single parent. In fact, single parent homes rose from 9% in 1960 to 34% in 2013. Along with the fact that some couples may be foregoing marriage all together and other couples may not identify as heterosexual, it seems the idea of a traditional family structure is on the decline.
With so many different family structures on the rise, books like I'm Not Different are so important.