A social media post is encouraging teachers to use more inclusive terminology than the ubiquitous “your mom and dad.” The post, that’s now gone viral, points out that family dynamics are complex for most children. A child might be growing up in a single-parent home, or have parents of the same gender, or have a nonbinary parent. Further, many kids are raised by members of their extended families or be in foster care. There are countless other possibilities that explain why the standard “mom and dad” should be replaced so that all children feel included.
The Instagram post is a capture of a tweet from Professor Sirry Alang, who was then retweeted by author Glennon Doyle who posted it to her Instagram where it received a good deal of positive feedback. Both agreed that an alternative solution should be adopted by teachers and that “mom and dad” does not reflect the lived experience of so many kids today.
Sirry Alang noticed how often her child’s teacher used ‘mom and dad’ to students and decided to highlight its limitations.
The initial message from Alang was this: “Teachers, [your] class convos are broadcasted in everyone’s homes. The [number] 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 [lunchtime] because my sister and I live with our grandma.'”
Alang points out that a student didn’t respond well to “mom and dad” because they lived with their grandma. It’s the perfect example of how the one-size-fits-all model isn’t working out here.
Glennon Doyle agreed with Alang and suggested teachers use ‘your grown-ups’ instead.
“Please consider saying ‘your grown ups,'” Doyle replied. “I used that when I was teaching and it helped. Adults’ language can determine children’s belonging.”
“That little language difference signals to little ones that all families are real and important and should be honored,” Doyle added in the caption. “That little difference can make a child feel celebrated instead of othered.”
Which seemed like smart advice.
This advice, of course, is just for teachers to make the experience more inclusive for their students. At home, anything goes. “Mom and dad” is fine if that’s what a child has, but at school, teachers could open up that language a little more.
People had thoughts. The social media post received mostly positive reactions and has been liked over 100,000 times on Instagram.
“I appreciate this for another reason,” one person commented. “My dad died when I was in first grade and whenever teachers would say ‘your mom and dad’ I would either internally feel the grief or outwardly have to explain if it was a direct question. I still hate that, even as a [32-year-old] woman.”
“Great reminder!” one educator wrote. “Teachers are mentally, physically, emotionally exhausted right now and many are being on display for the entire public to watch and scrutinize their every move. Not many professionals ever have to deal with that. I agree with this wholeheartedly and I do catch myself saying ‘parents’ when I know I should say ‘adult at home.’ It’s hard. Again, thanks for the reminder.”
The post resulted in a bunch of teachers sharing their go-to phrases that work instead of “mom and dad.” One person established “your raisins” to mean the “people raising you.” Another teacher uses “family adults.” Yet another says “your adults.” And still, another uses “whoever is in charge of your paperwork.”
It’s clear from the social media post and the outpouring of thanks from teachers, that this is easy enough to change. And, there are more ways than one to do it. It’s also clear from reading stories from adults who have painful memories of hearing “your mom and dad” as children. It’s proof that a simple change of phrase can make a world of difference.