The channel famous for broadcasting obnoxious kiddie shows during the day and adult throwback shows in the evening has pushed the parenting envelope a little farther this week. In a bold move, Nickelodeon has introduced a same-sex parenting couple on one of its cartoons.
In The Loud House, Lincoln Loud is the only boy in a family of ten girls (poor kid). In an episode that premiered on July 20th, he invites a friend over for a playdate. His friend gets dropped off by his two interracial dads. They introduce themselves and drop their son off. No discussion, nothing more to say.
Whoa. Way to make a statement in a quick one-two punch, Nickelodeon.
Way to make all kinds of families feel accepted and loved, Nickelodeon.
Since Ellen DeGeneres’ public coming out on television in 1997 (has it really only been 19 years?), network shows have been working in gay characters and placing them in relationships (think Cam and Mitch on Modern Family). More and more interracial couples are getting air time, too (like Olivia and, well anyone she’s currently dating on Scandal). Let’s not forget that marrying interracially was only made legal in 1967.
Television is a reflection of our lives as Americans. Maybe at times it’s a far-fetched portrayal; but even so, people want to be able to relate to the characters who are invited into their homes every week. While some parents may not want controversy invading their homes and influencing their children’s impressionable minds, I for one am relieved at some of the changes taking place in children’s programming.
My family is Catholic and my sons attend a Catholic school. Admittedly, while there is not a ton of diversity there, it’s a lot more than when their dad and I came up Catholic in the 70s and 80s. My sons have African American friends and Asian friends and Hispanic friends. They have friends whose parents are together, remarried, divorced, and interracial. They even have a friend whose parent is gay. This is their normal, and you know what? It’s pretty cool.
With everything else being forced down their throats currently in our world – terrorism, racism, sexism, not to mention the shock value of sex and violence in movies and video games – the reality of all the ways people can be in loving, supportive relationships should be gently eased into their focus. They should feel that it’s okay to love who they love. Period.
As parents, it is definitely our duty and our right to teach and guide our children how we see fit. If you believe that love and everything that goes along with it should only be between a man and a woman, share that belief with them. But please, don’t vilify people who don’t believe as you do. Open your mind and your heart to the fact that there is goodness in all types of people – gay, straight, white, black, Muslim, and Christian.
Teach your children to see people’s hearts and intentions rather than their color, sexuality, or religion. Make it okay in their minds to see two loving dads or moms, let them know they don’t have to be scared of someone who doesn’t look just like they do, help them understand someone who doesn’t speak as they speak, and teach them to believe in race.
The human kind.
I, personally, am not too worried about children’s programming negatively influencing my children. The only negatives I see are disrespectful characters bullying others or speaking rudely to adults. Since I always try to listen to what they are listening to, I discuss the things I find offensive or inappropriate. And since I don’t personally find same sex or interracial parents offensive or inappropriate, I don’t discuss it with my children. When the time comes to talk about sexual relationships, I will answer any questions they have.
Until that time, I want what they see on television to be a reflection of what they will see in their daily lives. And I hope and pray that what they will see in their daily lives is all types of people loving one another without judgement and rules and parameters. What I hope they will see is that it’s okay to love with just your heart.