One Mom Shares about Reading with her kids
By: Wendy Sue Noah
As a single mother of five children (whom I lovingly call my tribe), What is a Family? has helped me offer my kids a bigger perspective on what it means to be a family, even though ours does not look like most others around us.
Author Etan Boritzer is indeed a master at bringing difficult issues to the forefront, without long winded answers or preaching of any kind. The book is written in such a way that it allows the reader to really look at sensitive personal issues or to imagine worldwide global issues. What really makes the difference is how the reader is asked specific questions, so to examine their own lives in a loving and accepting way.
Therefore, the explorative journey of “What is a Family” brings a lot of important ideas to the forefront, with many questions for the children and parents to discuss and speculate about together. It personally helped me address touchy subjects in an easy, unobtrusive way.
He starts the book off with an easy topic, and probably the one that is most conspicuous, our looks. Do we look the same and do we have to look the same to be a family? Since my children are mixed, as their father is Afro-American and I am Caucasian, they all have common physical attributes, and yet are all unique in their own way. One of my girl’s got my red hair color with the texture of her father!
The point is that we are all unique. And to take it a step further, which reading to your children allows you to do, all humans do share similarities, even if they are not physically visible. For example, we all want to be happy, and we all want to be loved.
Also, as a transplant to Los Angeles and not having blood family here, we have been blessed with “spiritual family” members who do not physically resemble us, at least on the outside. Yet, we consider them family because of their big hearts and caring nature.
What I find so embracive is how Etan discusses all kinds of families, from gay, straight, divorced, adopted, foster, etc. Then he brings up animal families, fish families and bug families! And how we are all living together on this beautiful planet, as one big family! This is a major focal point on how I teach my children to accept and love others, whether they look like us or not, whether they live near us or not, whether they share our beliefs or not, and whether they are human or not!!
Etan also teaches kids new words, like “complicated” and brings up old concepts in a new way, like the “perfect family.” Is there such a thing, even in the happy-go-lucky 50’s?! No, not really. No one is perfect, especially a family with a bunch of non-perfect people! Yet, as Etan shares, maybe we can’t have a perfect family but maybe we can try to share lots of love and respect together in a family. And maybe that can help a family (and a person) get closer to being perfect.
Etan then takes “What is a Family” to the next level, to a deeper place for discussion and contemplation, which he calls “deep problems.” This can include drug abuse, or domestic violence or a mental disorder, like a bipolar parent. Again, this part helped me talk to my children about the abuse we had experienced from their dad, and how we are not alone. We are now a resilient family to love and support one another.
And that’s where it starts, as Etan states. Once we can love and care for one another in our own intimate family setting, then maybe we can also see a “family as billions of people living together and happy on our big, beautiful