This is a guest post from Dr. Sharon Katz. Dr. Katz is a psychotherapist with over 30 years experience counseling families through grief and helping them navigate stressful situations. Immediately after 9/11, she hopped a plane from Idaho to NYC to offer her services to victims’ families. Today one of her passions is promoting tolerance for all family types.
What is one of the most important goals for parents and grandparents? I think it is to make sure that our children have a good solid sense of who they are and enough self-esteem that they will be comfortable when out in the world trying to fit in. The family, more than anything else, helps children get their concept of self, and it’s at home that they learn to be proud to be part of their unique family, whatever the make up.
In today’s world, the concept of a “typical” family with one mom, one dad, two kids all of the same ethnicity is slowly changing. More and more we see mixed race marriages and multi-racial children as well as single parent households with adopted children as well as gay parents with children. As a family therapist for over 30 years, I’m convinced there is no longer a typical family, and this diversity in families is particularly evident in Hollywood. One can consider the Jolie-Pitt family as an example of the ‘new’ American family along with Sandra Bullock’s family or Elton John’s family. Interestingly enough, this also describes my family, minus the celebrity status.
As mother to a daughter in a same sex marriage, step-mother to another daughter in a same sex marriage, step-mother to two adopted children and grandmother to a special needs child and a biracial child, I am part of a large diverse family. Professionally I know how important it is for my grandchildren (and all children) to have a sense of belonging and solid self-esteem. This sense of
belonging can be found in something as simple as a doll or toy which mirrors one’s own family.
Unfortunately when I set out to purchase a toy for my grandson with two moms, I came up empty. This led me to create DiverseFamilies to honor and celebrate the diversity in families. In spite of our society being very diverse, there are relatively few products available that reflect the actual make-up of families. My idea was that it would be comforting for a child to have a group of dolls that look like his or her own family. Representations of so-called traditional families are everywhere, and I wanted DiverseFamilies to offer children dolls that depict their unique family.
As parents and grandparents we are a large source of our kids’ self- esteem and sense of belonging…now they can have toys that remind them of their wonderful family.