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Happy Families - Reinvented

Updated: Apr 2, 2022

A couple of months ago someone posted in group I'm in asking for recommendations for alternative versions of the traditional Happy Families game. As a concept, the game is great. But it reinforces the nuclear family as a norm, and don't get me started on the patriarchal nature of it!

Turn back time to September 2020 when I was approached by Laurence King asking for inclusion input on a reinvented version they were developing. Obviously I jumped at the opportunity. Having created a 'non-traditional' family myself, I was delighted to be able to include my family (we're the bookworms - unsurprisingly) but also some of the many other families that we don't see often enough. Sadly there were only eleven families, so I couldn't include every different type of family set up, but I did what I could!

The game was recently published and it's already proved popular. I'm so proud of the difference this kind of representation can make!

To get around the need for there to be four characters in every family, we included pets and decided we could have more than one character on some cards. The families are defined by interest rather than name, but it was important that they were all depicted as expressing themselves and their interests in their own individual ways.

Some of the inclusive choices I made will be obvious. Others many people won't notice as they are small things, but these still influence unconscious biases so they will make a difference.

These are some of them:

  • I made sure the children who are twins were on separate cards with separate interests, rather than being represented together.

  • Ensuring that the families of four weren't always depicted with one person on each card.

  • One of the characters uses 'they/them' pronouns.

  • Showing a parent who works away a lot.

  • Depicting a large age gap in some of the grown up relationships.

In my training programmes, the Inclusion Incubator and Foundations for Inclusion we talk a lot about the small changes that can be made and how these have a big impact. We often think we need to make big bold changes to make a difference, but sometimes a softly softly approach yields better results.

The feedback I've received on these programmes has been incredible, with the participants feeling confident and empowered about the impact they can have. If you'd like to find out more about either of my programmes, please get in touch.

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