(CNN)Food in their belly. A roof over their head. A reassuring hug after a tough day. An ear to listen to the latest thing that so-and-so said to so-and-so about such-and-such. These are the things our children need to thrive.
Don't fall into the nuclear family 'parent trap': What kids need most is love
What doesn't matter is the gender of the parent -- or how many there are, for that matter.
"Some children have two mothers. Some children bunk with their cousins. So no matter whether you have a ma, a pa, a hog or this llama. ... If you love each other then you are a family," reads Suzanne Lang's fun children's book, "All Kinds of Families."
One in four children do not have a father, according to US Census Bureau data. My child is one of them. Your default reaction may be sympathy, sadness or some misdirected judgment about what my child must be lacking.
I'll stop you right there.
My kid has two moms, and those are all the parents he needs. The same is true for many of the 19 million other children who don't have a father active and supportive in their lives. They don't need any displaced emotions, and they certainly don't need anyone's outmoded nuclear family expectations, questions or advertising.
White picket fences are overrated, and so are nuclear families. The truth is that dysfunction can seep into family life and impair a child's development and well-being regardless of the family dynamic.
A two opposite-parent household is not inherently more emotionally stable than any other composure. The problem is that we're still telling ourselves passe fables that 1950s TV mom June Cleaver is the role model when today's superparent looks more like current, real-life gay TV host Andy Cohen.
It's due time we change the narrative around default assumptions about what a child needs to thrive.
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