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When Your Family Does not Look Like a Stock Image
Lakshmi Iyer
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Lakshmi Iyer

Managing Editor at the Parent Voice, Magazine
Indian by birth, American by choice, Lakshmi identifies more with the hyphen in Indian-American. Read More under "Meet the Team".
Lakshmi Iyer
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It’s September. The children are back at school. The weather is cooler. The stores are already stocking Halloween candy. I am holding on to the vestiges of summer, refusing to let go. If I did, it would mean that I should embrace fall and winter and everything else that goes with it. Falling leaves, empty trees, and the bitter cold.

Mostly the beginning of school year for me means projects that touch on the family. Each year my children start with either a family tree or a “Me” Museum or something that tells the class who they are. Without fail, each year, it is a time of reflection for me as the parent and for my children on how much to share and what aspects of our unique family life to share with their classmates.

In first Grade, we focussed on the fact that my children were twins. They made something that looked like license plates with each letter and number meaning something to them. The next year, they did a show and tell with pictures. This year, we are collecting things to create a “Me” museum.

When your family does not look like the family in stock images, it brings up questions. Click To Tweet

When your family mixes race and heritage, there are questions in class that an elementary school child may have trouble answering or finding the words to answer in. What has helped my children in the past are the following:

  1. We rehearse at home. The children hold up their project I ask questions I assume anyone unfamiliar with our family dynamic may ask. I let the children talk about what they are comfortable talking about and what they are not. I explicitly give them permission to own their history and draw the line at where they would rather be silent than answer the question.An elementary school child from a mixed race family may have trouble answering questions. Click To Tweet
  2. I check with the homeroom teacher to see when they talk about different kinds of families and offer to come in and talk about adoption as a means to build a family. I take props and pictures to make it interactive and age appropriate.
  3. If the project is something that requires too much information, I ask if the teacher can provide my child modified instructions that will let them participate yet not feel like we are sharing too much.

As my children grow older, they acquire skills that let them interpret our family dynamic to their friends and class in their own way.

Until then, a little bit of planning goes a long way.

Happy school year to you, our readers and your families. How have you or your children dealt with projects such as the family tree or anything to deal with race and heritage? Do share with us.

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Indian by birth, American by choice, Lakshmi identifies more with the hyphen in Indian-American. Read More under “Meet the Team”.

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