The political mantra these days is that the best thing for a child is to have two parents—a mother and a father. But commonsense, or thirty years of work in the public school system, would tell that having two parents—a mother and a father—is not a guarantee of anything. One of the most stable homes, and therefore stable student, was a twenty-something aunt with a physical disability who took into her home a bi-racial niece she’d never met. The little girl became a star student, caring, funny, and talented. I can’t count the number of grandparents, uncles, aunts, family friends, foster parents, two moms, two dads, step-moms, step-dads, step-grandparents, or older siblings who have been the “parents” of students in my schools. There is no normal.
As for the ideal situation of a mother and a father, those include some of the horror stories. Children neglected, mal-nourished, or abused in their “ideal” homes with two parents—a mother and a father.
It takes a lot to rear a child. It takes love, patience, caring, humor, organization, integrity, and some imagination, just for starters. I have witnessed those attributes present in the lives of many students…and I have seen them absent in as many. Each, the good and the bad, had its unique family situation. Childrearing, like education, needs to be supported not politicized.