I’m just back from a family vacation in India where I was struck by the healthy public debates and frequent news hour analyses on the current Women's Reservation Bill that would provide for 33% “reservations” (quotas) for women in parliament and local state assemblies. This is a part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s larger commitment to laws providing for gender equality in a country where millions of women and their families struggle to live on less than a $1 a day without regular access to food, water, housing, livelihoods, reproductive care or education.
Clearly, this is now a world-wide trend to bring more women into decision making positions in government and corporations. Norway, Spain, Netherlands have already passed legislation that would help to bring 30% to 40% women on corporate boards.
When we close our eyes and think of a family, most of us will assign to it the image of a different-sex married couple and their children. But when we open our eyes, we immediately notice that families vary in numerous ways—by income, marital status, number/presence of children or partners, etc. Recent studies confirm the diversity of families in the United States (US). Almost 40% of children today are born to unmarried mothers, and nearly 40% of different-sex unmarried households include children. Furthermore, fewer than half of all households in the US are headed by a married couple. It is time to broaden our consideration of what constitutes a family today.
This Sunday (July 26) while others will be celebrating National Parent’s Day, I will be honoring my ancestors at the San Francisco Buddhist Temple Obon Festival. Though I have no children of my own, I am, perhaps ironically, the god parent of my Catholic niece and nephew and have played a parental role for my immigrant mother since the day I could speak English. While I recognize the need to honor people who have their own children, I long for a world where we can embrace and respect all types of families and networks of care in which we willingly (but more often unwillingly) become involved.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) families movement is a growing movement within the broader LGBTQ rights movement that focuses its attention and advocacy on the welfare of families with LGBTQ members.
National Parents Day, unlike the heavily promoted and merchandised Mother’s and Father’s Days that by their very nature tend to reflect gendered expectations around parenting, really broadens the discussion of family in all its diversity. Today’s celebration is inclusive, celebrating ALL parents, and without a strict definition of mom+dad+baby=family. So we are not excluding same-sex couples, single parents, noncustodial parents, step-parents, extended families, or anyone who might sometimes feel left out of traditional holidays framed around out-dated expectations of how most children are parented.
As I began collecting background research for National Parent’s Day and the vast diversity of families in the United States, I kept running across amazing articles and resources–too many to use for just one post. So here you are: a round-up of interesting programs, articles, and very cool maps–all in the interest of reclaiming National Parent’s Day.
Last weekend, my partner Marco and I took a childbirth class at the Manhattan hospital where I’ll be giving birth this fall. I found it very moving that of this random gathering of six couples, two of them were gay. Many of us were over 35 to boot, and we had all walked complex paths in order to be in that room.
As someone in the process of creating a new family, I think a lot about its definition these days. To me, family is wherever there is love, and the desire to hold and nurture another soul. To me, it’s as simple as that.
July 28, 2009 posted by Julie and Scott Zeilinger*
My family’s feminism is rooted deeply in our Jewish heritage. As Jews, my family has been used to being misunderstood and the victims of prejudice. The adversity my family has had to deal with in the past as minorities in the face of ignorance has made us sensitive to the power dynamics that exist in certain circles of society. In order to cope with such ignorance, my family along with many other Jews ingrained a philosophy of independence into our culture. My family, both generations past and present, believe that one must create justice where none exists.
Earlier this week Rebekah Spicuglia, non-custodial parent advocate extraordinaire, blogged for us as part of our National Parent’s Day forum. This morning, she appeared on The Today Show. Check out the video and send Rebekah some love here in comments.
July 29, 2009 posted by Linda Basch Last Sunday marked the 15th annual observance of National Parents’ Day, a holiday established to “uplift ideal parental role models.”Originally introduced into Congress by Senator Trent Lott, in 1994, then-President Bill Clinton formally established the fourth Sunday of July as National Parents’ Day. Generally, this holiday is used to promote the image of two-parent, “traditional” families.