I don’t have any stats to back this up, so based entirely on perception: there’s no such thing as the cookie cutter family. More frequently there are homes comprised of a single parent, or the mix from divorced and remarried parents. The family unit has gradually evolved beyond bloodlines and has expanded to include increasingly more people who were not raised in the same household, perhaps were even born in another country, and who do not align perfectly with our racial stereotypes.
As a society we have barely caught up in this realization. When we are faced with an example of our own biases, the thought is hardly available to us. A few years ago I hosted a happy hour event for fellow graduates of a leadership program I was involved in. Amid taking attendance, I asked a tall black man what his name was. His response caught me off guard – he had an Asian last name. Those around me chuckled quietly at my confusion, and not knowing what the gist was, I simply asked for his ID. Yup, he was right about his own name! Well for sure I was embarrassed by my own assumptions but thankfully he was forgiving of my blatant profiling. Ever since that moment I’ve tried to remember that the world is changing and very soon our old assumptions will fail us.
I have mixed nephews and nieces whose parents have told me how strangers have reacted to seeing them together. More often than not, Mom is asked if she is the babysitter. It makes me wonder how new parents will handle the development of their children’s identities. Since we are just entering the age where mixed race couples are accepted as part of the norm, how could parents with homogenous family backgrounds possibly understand what it means for their children to grow up in a mixed family?
A nephew of mine was raised in a rather dysfunctional household. Namely that the parents were young and unmarried, and so from an early age he was accustomed to living the double life of a child in separation. The stereotype of course would make you think this is a pitiful story, but in fact, he is so well-loved and accustomed to so much attention that he has said, point of fact, he’s had it easy.
I am coming upon that age where having children might well be something I will have to consider doing, with or without a partner of my own. I can’t predict the future, but I can think of several outcomes. No matter what happens, at least I know there’s no single ideal to live up to anymore.