Divorce was unknown among the parents of my childhood friends, though one said hers planned to break up after their kids finished high school. Gays and lesbians were deep in the closet. Yet even in that traditional time and place, not all families fit the storybook image of mother, father, and one to four children. Playmates had lost fathers to war, illness, or construction accidents. Aunts and uncles took in three boys whose widowed mother died of breast cancer. “Traditional families” are not universal, and they never have been.
Regardless of talk of death, divorce, or same-sex relationships, early childhood is not too soon to end the false distinction between “normal” and “different.” I’d like to see a picture book something like this:
What Makes a Family?
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.