Leave it to our kids to teach us lessons we thought we were supposed to be teaching them.

By Brianne Manz
Lauren Kara Photography

As a Mom, there is almost nothing more important to me than making sure my children learn kindness and empathy. I want them to know that love wins. I want them to understand that there is not just one kind of family: They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors with different beliefs and traditions. The thing is, I've never known if my kids are listening or understanding what I say.

Then, during our last beach vacation, my 6-year-old, Gemma, was collecting rocks and “making a family.” She had a hodgepodge of shells, stones, and even a little piece of wood, so I asked her to tell me about them. She started identifying: two mom rocks, three dad rocks, five kid rocks.

I pointed out that they weren’t all actually rocks; some were shells. I asked her, “Why don’t you make a rock family and a shell family and they can be friends?” She looked at me, puzzled, and said, “But they are all a family: rocks, shells, two moms, three dads. A whole family.” And she was right. I felt embarrassed that I suggested shells with shells and rocks with rocks. But I also realized that my kids have been listening to me! Gemma reminded me that whether shells or rocks, different or the same, what makes a family is love.

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