We as librarians and library service providers talk a lot about being inclusive. We strive to be inclusive with staff, with our patrons, with our collections, and with our programming. This is one thing that as teen service providers I know as a group we work hard to maintain, and it’s one thing that we get challenged on more often than our adult service colleges. So take a step back for a moment, a true and reflective step, and examine how inclusive your Mother’s Day programming is for your patrons.
Yes, the original idea is to celebrate mothers, but take it a step further. Who is actually fulfilling the “mother” role in the lives of your patrons? When used as a verb, the word “mother” can be defined as “to bring up (a child) with care and affection,” which can relate to aunts, cousins, grandmothers, second mothers, step-mothers, sisters. Taking this a step further, what about those patrons who don’t have what an unaccepting society sees as a traditional “mother” figure in the household? What if there are two fathers, uncles, grandfathers? How do you include those patrons within your program?
- Marketing: As Mother’s Day is this Sunday, it’s obviously too late to rebrand anything this time around. However, make a mental note for Father’s Day, and for Mother’s Day next year to be conscious about your terminology. Think about ways you can rename the program so that the idea comes across (creating things for loved ones) without the emphasis on the specific person. Also, make it clear in the program description that all are welcome, regardless of whom they have in their lives.
- Program: What do you have planned for your program? Is it all hearts and flowers, pinks and reds? If it’s some type of crafts, does it fall within the stereotypical patterns of Mother’s Day fodder? Think about what you can do to break through the boundaries. Add in colors and projects appropriate for all, not just females, so as to cover patrons whose loved ones either aren’t women or don’t fall within the typical female lines. Add in colors, scents, patterns, and ideas for male and gender-neutral options so that there are plenty to choose from rather than completely overwhelming everyone with lace and lilies.
- Displays: What books and materials do you have on display? Have you included stellar examples of grandparents and non-traditional families raising teens and encouraging them, as well as rocking moms? Look for grandparents, aunts, and uncles as well as teachers and other role models to be inspirations for teens, and slip a few of those into your bibliographies and book displays to encourage those without a traditional mother figure.
- Movies: We can snicker about it, but youth- and teen-relatable movies often have some of the best authority figures out there for teens. Looking for some marathon-worthy movies with traditional and non-traditional parent figures? Try these:
- Lilo & Stitch: After their parents are killed, Nani does her best to raise her much younger sister, Lilo.
- Harry Potter series: Dumbledore, Hagrid, and all the rest? Tell me they’re not pseudo-parents for Harry…let alone the Weasleys.
- Easy A: Parents are completely supportive of everything that Olive is going through.
- Back to the Future: Marty completely has a father figure in Doc.
- The Incredibles: Mr. and Mrs. Incredible are what couples want to be.
- Bend It Like Beckham: Pressures? You haven’t seen pressure ’til you’ve seen this family.
Make sure that you’re inclusive to everyone and not shutting people out by singling out a particular demographic, and not only will things go a lot smoother, but also your stats should grow.