A New Modern Family: Discussion panel spoke of new nuclear family in today’s society

Lydia Coutré

Seven-year-old Angely Boske has two mommies.

Seven-year-old Angely Boske has two mommies.

“Most of the people treat us nicely, but some knuckleheads, they say ‘Do you have a mom and a dad?’ and I say, ‘No,’” Angely said. “I tell them that I have two mommies and they say it’s impossible and that’s not even possible to have two mommies.”

Angely’s two mothers, Christa Boske and Tina Jamrose, were a part of the New Modern Family panel that spoke to about 50 people last night in the Student Center about the new aspects of family.

The discussion was part of R U KSU?!, an event to celebrate diversity. Women’s Liberation Collective, BUS, NAACP and PRIDE! Kent sponsored the event.

“We’re just trying to bring to light different aspects of family,” said Diana Shope, senior art history major and president of the Women’s Liberation Collective. “Our society is moving away from the nuclear family to different form. The whole thing about R U KSU? is to promote diversity, and we think it’s a good idea to get out of your own box and learn about other people’s lives.”

The group answered questions from students sponsoring the panel and then questions from the audience, offering a variety of perspectives from their respective family backgrounds.

Panelist and assistant professor Marilyn Norconk, who lives in a lesbian household, said the modern family is an extension and modification of “historical” or traditional families, but she isn’t sure how much has changed.

Fellow panelist Amoaba Gooden, whose husband works in Jamaica, said the difference isn’t in how families are structured.

“Probably what’s different is that we’re able to have a conversation that there are multiple families,” said Gooden, assistant professor in Pan-African studies. “When you look at it legally, there are ways now of getting benefits for same sex couples where you couldn’t even have that conversation in the past.”

Representing another family lifestyle, Kent State alumnus Damareo Cooper lives with whom he calls his two “brothers.” The two boys are his cousins and were adopted by his mother. Cooper adopted them after she passed away last year.

He grew up with a single mom and said, “I’m a man doing what my mother did.”

Cooper defined family as people who will support you.

“I know people who don’t have families, so I’m their family,” Cooper said. “It’s really about who’s going to look out for you.”

Kerry Macomber, Ravenna’s economic development director, called her family “two old white people raising a beautiful biracial boy,” whom they adopted nine years ago. She said her husband enjoys being a stay at home dad while she is the “major bread winner.”

She said she hopes the next generation will be more equal.

“If more people continue to become more accepting, then yeah, I think that we will be all a little bit better off for it,” Macomber said.

Confronting the issue of acceptance, Boske and Jamrose answered the question of whether children raised in a gay or lesbian home are more likely to be gay or lesbian. Both were raised in heterosexual households. Boske said, “You don’t raise people to be gay or straight.”

Jamrose said the couple, who have been together for 14 years, has had more good experiences than bad in the three different places they have lived.

“At Angely’s preschool in Texas, it was just a given,” Jamrose said. “We were her family.”

Elizabeth Ajunwa, sophomore international relations major and political affairs chair of BUS, said the event “kind of shattered the notion of what the modern family is.”

“I don’t think that it’s a singular modern family,” Norconk said. “I think the whole point is that there are many modern families today.”

Contact Lydia Coutré at [email protected].