Tired of feeling like your family is “doomed” just because you don’t raise your kids within a traditional family structure?
The term “traditional family” usually refers to a household headed up by a married man and woman and the child(ren) that they raise. As such, a nontraditional family is every other kind of family: single parent family, gay parent family, divorced family, grandparents raising grandkids, etc.
As a single parent myself (I’m a straight mom co-parenting my 2 awesome kids with my gay ex-husband), my family is living proof that it’s not the design of the family that determines the successful raising of children, it’s the character of the family that influences the raising of motivated, moral, and empathetic young people.
Below is a list of 11 ways to reassure yourself that your nontraditional family is doing a great job of raising good kids.
√ You are just as happy as your traditional family friends and just as tired from all the house-cleaning, bill-paying, and enforcing that having kids requires
If you are just as worn out from all of the hard work that good parenting requires, then you are definitely doing something right.
√ Other people like your family and like getting together with you
Never have difficulty finding other people to hang out with your family? When other people are drawn to you, this means that you project a fun, warm, and interesting vibe. If your family was “strange,” then people would be running from you instead of trying to set up playdates with you.
√ Your kids have made positive, lasting friendships with their peers
When the structure of a family encourages empathy, kindness, and a respect for other people, then kids find it easy to make and keep friendships with their peers. This just doesn’t happen out of no where.
√ Other parents ask your advice about parenting issues
Hey, if other parents are asking your advice about parenting issues, then they definitely respect the way you parent. What a compliment!
√ You experience the same frustrations, worries, and fears that traditional families face
If you are spending many sleepless nights worrying about your child’s education, happiness, and awesome future, then your parenting priorities are in the right place.
√ Your kids make you proud when they defend and protect other kids who are “different”
I have been knocked-off-my-feet proud on numerous occasions when I have witnessed my son and daughter befriend other kids who wouldn’t ordinarily fit into the popular crowd. When kids are raised in an environment where different isn’t treated as bad or scary, then they are better prepared to see the hidden value in others.
√ Your personal and professional goals take into account your family’s needs
If you put your kids first when making career and personal decisions, then your priorities for parenting are just where they need to be. Sure, you might get some criticism from others such as:
- If you put your kids first, then you would have stayed married (if you are divorced parent)
- If you put your kids first, you wouldn’t have had/adopted/fostered kids if they couldn’t have a mom AND a dad (if you are a gay parent)
- If you put your kids first you would have married their father/mother (if you are a single, never-married parent).
It doesn’t matter what kind of family you have as long as the decisions that you have made in the past and will continue to make in the future are made with the intention of raising good kids.
√ Your kids complain about how strict and boring you are
What? You have rules and you expect them to be followed at your house? You are definitely following Parenting 101, which is the foundation to raising great kids.
√ You don’t let life’s challenges distract you from your goal of creating an awesome family
Nontraditional families are faced with challenges that traditional families just don’t have to deal with such as the stigma, judgement, and discrimination that goes with the territory of being in a nontraditional family.
If you are the kind of parent (like me) who is determined not to let these challenges stand in the way of creating a warm, loving, and positive environment for the family, then you are on the path to being an awesome parent.
√ Your kids, while not always perfect, are dependable, likable, independent, and empathetic young people.
What’s you definition of a “good kid”? If your kids (for the most part) embody this definition, then you are doing your part in teaching important life lessons to your kids that they will need as adults. That’s one of the primary goals of parenting, right?
√ Your kids are happy
Finally, the strongest evidence that proves that you are doing this family thing right is that your kids are happy. What’s the ultimate goal for any family – traditional and nontraditional? That our kids grow up to be responsible young people who want to still be a part of our lives when they get older.
Who knows? Our kids might even copy the way we parented them with their own kids. I can’t think of a bigger compliment than that!
Take Home Message
The above points can describe any good family – traditional or nontraditional. This is because non-traditional families are not that different from traditional families (I know – shocker, right?). We may look different on the outside, but on the inside we are just like our traditional family counterparts.
My goal for this article is to encourage and validate other parents in non-traditonal families. The point of having a family is to make a positive impact on our kids so that they develop into good young people. Non-traditional families – just like traditional families – have been doing this for decades.