A now viral Instagram post is doing important work to encourage more inclusive language about parenting. And it starts with teachers no longer using “Mom and Dad” as the default language when asking their classrooms full of kids about their parents and guardians. Since many kids may have parents of the same gender, trans or non-binary parents, a single parent, or they may live with extended family or be in foster care, among countless other possibilities, “Mom and Dad” simply does not fit the reality of many kids. And the Instagram post, which was first posted by Sirry Alang and then by author Glennon Doyle, points out that teachers should seek an alternative. Sirry Alang has found a pretty great one: referring to kids’ parents as their “grown-ups.”
Alang wrote, “Teachers, ur class convos are broadcasted in everyone’s homes. The # of times the teacher has said “your mom and dad” to my kid’s class is infuriating. But a BRAVE kid just said… “But I only told my grandma at lunch time because my sister and I live with our grandma.” Doyle adds in the caption, “That little language difference signals to little ones that all families are real and important and should be honored. That little difference can make a child feel celebrated instead of othered.”
At home, families could use language like “Mom and Dad” to refer to themselves if that feels right. But in school especially, using gender neutral language could be really beneficial. Encouraging teachers, and of course non-teachers alike, to refer to kids’ guardians as “grown-ups” sounds like a great and easy step towards making all kids feel seen in the classroom and in the world.