Free to Be . . . a Family

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In 1974, Marlo Thomas and Letty Cottin Pogrebin oversaw the creation of FREE TO BE ... YOU AND ME--songs, stories, and poems which encouraged children to assume some of the responsibility for determining what they might become. It was a revolutionary manifesto in that it maintained that children had the right, and the duty, to participate in their own maturation as opposed to being passive clones of their parents, slavishly obeying the injunctions of those set in authority over them. FREE TO BE ... YOU AND ME was also a primer for parents who wanted to rear their children in accordance with the idealism manifested in the Civil Rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War protests. FREE TO BE ... YOU AND ME, therefore, challenged sex and racial stereotypes in the hope that the new generation would successfully avoid the mistakes of the past.

FREE TO BE ... A FAMILY is the logical extension of the earlier work. Whereas FREE TO BE ... YOU AND ME celebrated the diversity of the individual experience, this work concentrates on revealing the infinite variety associated with the term family. Thus, the various selections contained in this volume deal with what some would label nontraditional families. Yet only 7 percent of American households currently have the traditional configuration--a stay at-home mother, an employed father, and their own biological children. Today, the traditional family is subject to so many permutations that the proper definition of a family, as Thomas asserts, should probably be any unit that knows how to “nourish, nurture and love its children.” Children and parents exposed to this work will thus find all kinds of families in the process of taking care of business.

The fact that Thomas is married to Phil Donahue and that Gloria Steinem wrote the introduction to this book should not be neglected in any consideration of FREE TO BE ... A FAMILY. The segments presented are in accord with, and reveal a commitment to, a particular world view that some may find offensive and others unnecessarily narrow. Nevertheless, the great majority of the diverse forms of family units will be thoroughly entranced by this book and will undoubtedly read it with tremendous profit.