COMMENT

In these strange times we live in, Kmart is coming out as the unlikely counterpoint to the Israel Folaus and Brian Tamakis of this world.

The store seems to be quietly helping break stereotypes, selling a "wooden family set" that comes in a range of options, not just your usual "mum and dad" type of setup.

The Anko wooden toy families come in different sets, including a family of colour, a family with two mums and a family with two dads.

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Kmart is selling wooden toy families with with appears to be a set of two dads and a set of two mums. Photo / Supplied
Kmart is selling wooden toy families with with appears to be a set of two dads and a set of two mums. Photo / Supplied

It doesn't sound like much but it's a huge deal.

We're in 2019 and families come in many different shapes and sizes. And yet, most of the toys and books for children still base themselves on the old concept of the traditional family, with the mum (probably in an apron) and the dad (at work or at home, newspaper in hand) and 2.5 kids.

In fact, judging by census results, the definition of what constitutes a family has been steadily shifting over the past few decades. Mum and dad living under the same roof with the kids is now a concept getting further away from the norm, so why should we continue to tell our kids that's what a family is?

We know this change is happening, intrinsically, and it doesn't matter whether your great-aunt thinks it's okay or not, it'll continue to happen. The problem is that most of us still don't get to see many examples of it in our day-to-day lives.

One of the main issues with this type of toy, something out of the norm, is that it is often costly and/or hard to find. That's not the case anymore.

Representation is important and Kmart seems to have realised exactly that. We can't understand the things we don't see very often. These wooden toy families are important because, being so affordable, it means more children will hopefully have access to this kind of play, away from outdated norms.

Photo / Kmart
Photo / Kmart

Kmart, while being a true hallmark of consumerism and capitalism, gets a few things right. It announced a few days ago that its workers will all start getting paid a living wage (and if that doesn't sound like a big deal to you, you've lived a sheltered life).

Its clothes do pretty well in the annual ethical fashion report, compared to other more expensive and supposedly fancier brands. Its kids' range, both in toys and clothing, is not as awfully gendered as in other stores. Let's face it, Kmart is the Rick Astley of stores: it'll truly never let you down.

I'm not suggesting you should rush out and buy a wooden family set for your child if the last thing they need right now is a new toy, but, if you're looking for a gift for a child at any point, this is a pretty good one to get.

Maybe this is the way to do it: quietly, without great fanfare, just one small wooden family set at a time. And listen, I didn't even check with Kmart. For all I know, this could very well be the "extended family expansion pack" and those are just two uncles and a bunch of cousins. It doesn't matter. It matters that my child can look at them as a family, from the get go, without any societal pressure to cloud her ideas of what a family is. Take it from her, the wise one in the family: she won't care about the gender of the toys, as long as she gets to stuff them inside my slippers for me to find as I put them on in the dark.

Get them in your house and see if your child cares. They won't, and neither should you. And if you really want to annoy your great-aunt at the dinner table, just name the two dads Adam and Steve and watch her try not to spew her roast chicken.