As an ESL teacher who also teaches Spanish, I take every opportunity to teach beyond the language; especially to my kid students.

We were learning about family members in Spanish. My student typed out, “Usually girls work at home and boys work.” I asked her why she believes this, and she said it’s because it is how her family is.

I told her no, actually some girls also work or are the only ones who work in the family. That day I taught her how to say, “Girls are strong” and “I am strong” in Spanish. Girls don’t have to follow traditional gender roles. They can be strong and make their own money.

Kids need to learn that families don’t always look like the ones they grow up in or the ones that their friends have. In some families, the mom works while the dad stays at home. In other families, both parents work. Sometimes there are babysitters. Sometimes the babysitters are the grandparents.

Some families have only one parent. Others have two parents who are fathers. Others still have two parents who happen to both be female. Sometimes the aunt or uncle act as the parent. Or the neighbour is more of a parent than the real parents.

Teach kids diversity in family so they are not surprised or judgemental when they see families which differ from their own. It is incredibly easy and natural to think that the whole world operates like your personal world does.

Nonetheless I believe it is tremendously valuable to open children’s minds at a young age so they can grow into caring, unbiased, prejudice-free adults. It is OK if your family doesn’t look like most families do in the Hollywood movies. In fact, most of the time they won’t.