Dana Rudolph

Of Two Minds on an Album for Kids with Two Moms

Filed By Dana Rudolph | September 10, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Media
Tags: Canada, child care, kate reid, LGBT families, music, parenting

Canadian musician Kate Reid, a self-described "homofolkie," is working on an album for kids with two moms, according to an article in the Edmonton Sun:

Reid hopes to interview children of lesbian couples during her current Canadian tour. She says she will listen to their stories and turn their experiences into songs for the CD, titled Songs for Kids With Two Moms.

"I'm really excited about it and I think it's going to be a really fun project in terms of doing the research and writing the songs and trying to create a body of work that expresses the experiences in their lives."

While part of me thinks this is a commendable venture, another part thinks that this isn't exactly what our kids need. Would my own son really find more interest in listening to an entire album about the varieties of two-mom families than listening to one about, say, trains, which happened to include a song or two featuring a boy with lesbian moms?

I agree only partially with Reid's observation that "there are a lot of kids who don't have songs for their lives." My son may not know a lot of songs that feature kids with lesbian moms, but he certainly knows songs about going to school, losing a tooth, riding a bike, playing with his grandfather, peanut butter, and many other aspects of his life. Even sticking just to family issues, would any given child necessarily prefer an album about kids with two moms vs. an album about kids with adoptive parents, multi-racial parents, divorced parents, etc., both same- and opposite-sex? Which is more likely to give him or her songs that resonate with his or her life? It depends on the child, of course.

The question really is: to what extent to our children define themselves by having parents of the same gender as opposed to defining themselves by any other aspect of their lives?

Don't get me wrong. I firmly believe we need to boost representation of LGBT families in children's music. I also think children's songwriters could easily adjust more songs to be neutral on the matter of parents' genders, so they fit a wider range of family types. (I realize those two statements are contradictory. I think there's room for both approaches depending on the context of the song.) What's going to make my child feel more a part of the fabric of society, though: a very special album for "families like his" (as defined by someone else) or an album of, say, travel songs, which happens to have a song or two that mention a lesbian mom?

And what about the children of single lesbian moms? "Songs for Kids With Two Moms" doesn't really cut it.

Maybe I'm being harsh here. I suppose I'm afraid that the album will turn out to be like many of the the early books about children of lesbian moms (and other LGBT parents)--a little too preachy. I'm willing to give Reid the benefit of the doubt, though. She seems to have a sense of humor and a flair for storytelling, as evidenced by her song, "The Only Dyke at the Open Mic." If nothing else, including a few of her upcoming kids' songs in an iPod playlist could be a good way to move towards the representation I think we all want.

What do you think? Would your kids go for something like this? What advice would you offer Reid as she develops the album?

Thanks to Stefan of the fabulous kids' music review site Zooglobble for the tip.

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Paige would have latched on to it immediately if it mentioned a gay family - two moms, two dads, whatever. I think it's true that sometimes our kids don't see themselves represented in mainstream children's music. While the focus of quite a bit of the tunes has nothing to do with "family" - as versus "going to school, losing a tooth, riding a bike, playing with his grandfather, peanut butter," etc - an awful lot of them do talk about moms and dads. Usually they're in conjunction with each other too.

I agree, Bil. We definitely need more singers to be neutral or inclusive when they mention parents. Maybe not inclusive in each song, which could be awkward, but over the course of an album. Easy enough to mention a few different family types. I think part of my problem is that I really want this broad inclusion from many musicians. An album entirely about families with two moms is all well and good, but seems a little ghettoizing (though I know that's not Reid's intent). We get our "special" album, but no one other singers are motivated to change.

Having said that, there are a few who are aware of these issues. Erin Lee and Marci, who have performed on many of the R Family Cruises and whom I feature at Mombian every month, try very hard to be neutral when it comes to parents' genders, and their song "Fine By Me" could be an anthem for LGBT and other non-traditional families. ("My family/Doesn't look like the families do in picture books/And that's fine by me.")

Hi Dana,

Thanks for the info on this CD. I also wanted to let you know that we're working on the first Dottie's Magic Pockets CD as we speak. It will have songs about everything from tree houses and sea shells to bats and berries - and, of course, all different kinds of families! We'll be sure to send you a preview when it is ready (next two months)