Families can look a lot of different ways.
Just because a family doesn’t look the way you picture one in your head doesn’t make it any less valid or real.
There are chosen families, blended families, adoptive families, and more. But none of that really matters when you consider that it’s how a family makes you feel, not how a family looks, that truly counts.
Still, one mother was tired of strangers making assumptions about her family and asking awkward questions about her daughter. So she and her six-year-old decided to hop on social media and set the record straight once and for all.
Navigating Life as a Mother-Of-Four
As a Black mother to a white child, Jeena Wilder was constantly questioned about her relationship to her six-year-old daughter. Especially when she was out with all of her children: her seven-year-old, a three-year-old, and another six-year-old.
“There were specific questions people would ask like, ‘Are you the nanny? Are you babysitting these kids?’” Wilder told Good Morning America. “No. These are all my children…all four of them,” she continued.
“Instead of thinking of other avenues on how people can become mothers, they automatically assume. It’s saddening.”
According to Wilder, she and her husband, Drue, took in their daughter when she was two years old. At the time, her biological parents, who are related to Drue, were no longer able to care for her. So they did a kinship adoption.
“She’s really sweet and super forgiving and is the happiest child,” Wilder added. “She loves being around people, and she is my social butterfly.”
A Frustrated Mother Speaks Out
Tired of all the comments, Wilder finally decided to do something about it. There are all kinds of ways to be a mother, and she wanted to help educate people on why comments like the ones she hears can be harmful.
So, Wilder and her six-year-old created a video in which she addressed all of the questions she’s fielded over the years. No, she’s not the nanny. No, her husband didn’t cheat on her. Yes, she is the little girl’s mother, and yes, the girl calls her mom.
Wilder posted the video on her Instagram account for her followers to see, and it quickly gained traction. Many chimed in with their own stories in the comments, thanking the mom for shedding light on an issue that affects them, too.
Another goal Wilder says she had in sharing the video was to encourage more BIPOC parents to adopt. “Then, it will not only be the norm,” she explained. “But we will see more children getting adopted.”
Normalize Different Kinds of Families
These days, families look so different than the traditional ones we’ve seen in the media and on TV shows. So it’s important to change our expectations or ideas of what a “traditional” family even looks like.
This story is a great reminder of that. Sure, you may have questions, but asking a mother if she’s a nanny because of the color of her skin is never okay. Not only can it be hurtful, embarrassing, or frustrating, but by doing so in front of the children, you’re also perpetuating these stereotypes.
Instead, we should all rethink our definitions of what a family is and its function and remember there are all kinds of family units out there. A better question would be to ask how old the kids are. Or how the mother is doing. Or even whether you can give her a hand.
Whether it’s a birth family, adoptive family, or chosen family doesn’t necessarily matter. Because at the end of the day, what really matters is love.
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