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The Non-Nuclear Family

Like many of my peers, I grew up in a completely traditional family, with two parents, three kids, several pets, and a house in the ‘burbs.  My parents were each other’s first marriage, we all had the same last name, and we were just like nearly every other family on the block.  (Of course, since I’m the mom of two teenage boys, occasionally it feels like “nuclear family” describes the temper flare-ups around my house, rather than family structure!)  However, that model is increasingly rare, even in my own experience – I’m divorced from my kids’ dad and remarried, plus I never changed my name either marriage, so our neighborhood carpool chart has to refer to us as “The Mayer/Grinthal/Visini family.” Plus my ex has remarried a woman with kids of her own, so we’re all one big happy blended family, meaning we can all sit together at graduations and bar mitzvahs (and giving me better material than I could ever write – I landed one corporate consulting gig through my first husband’s second ex-wife’s third husband, which as you might imagine I love to say!)

And my kids are growing up comfortable with all sorts of families.  When my son Ben was about eight, he met a kid who was being raised jointly by a gay couple and a lesbian couple, and Ben informed the boy that he also had two dads and two moms – Ben was referring to his parents and step-parents, but in his view there really wasn’t any difference. Families now come in all shapes and sizes, and so when I was asked to write a kid-friendly song for a special needs program, I couldn’t resist throwing in my own agenda – plus as we get closer to some pivotal Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to celebrate diversity!  (Side note – if any of my fellow writers ever struggle with inspiration, just go look at what else is out there – I was having a hard time with this song, but after checking out a few “Barney”-ish cloying family songs on YouTube, I was reassured that even if my efforts weren’t perfect, they were still an improvement!  No matter what your style, subject, or type of writing, there’s so much dreck available on-line, it’s bound to make you feel better.)

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