A little more than 24 hours after a young man in Newtown, Conn., gunned down 20 children, their caretakers and his own mother, hearing my kids equate death with "boy stuff" takes the breath out of my lungs.
In today's society, parents and educators are increasingly realizing the benefits of playing with all kinds of toys. That is, a preschool-aged boy who happily investigates a toy kitchen is less likely to be chastised by his teacher or parents than in decades past.
Until the day after the 2004 election, as it is for most kids, our daughter's definition of family could be distilled into one simple word: us. That day, she learned how easily a nasty election campaign could convince voters we were something to be feared: "them."
David Brooks believes that we are better off when we think beyond ourselves and engage in action that serves others. We'll also be better off if we can move past outmoded thinking about family, and accept all of its forms that serve to bond us with those closest to us.
As AMC's Mad Men effectively dramatizes (in its subversion of 1950s norms), the conservative ideal of "the American Family" is, and has been, an oppressive, non-functional fantasy. Is this cause for alarm, as Republicans and the religious right suggest?
On regular days phrases like "a little chaos is a good thing" and "at least it's happy noise" have the desired calming effect, but on this PMS-migraine, one-two-punch day I call out the big guns: "It might have been otherwise." You see, for Tracie and me, parenthood was hard-won.
"I want to get married to B, but she said that two girls can't get married, and that isn't true!" Elana explained. Not wanting to explain equality and justice to a friend's kindergartner, I could only smile proudly.
After my son's third birthday party, his best friend began to cry. When his mother asked him what was wrong, he said, "I want two dads just like Isaac has!" That was the first moment when I realized my family was unique.