9 Netflix Titles for Non-Traditional Families

May 30, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

As part of what is often labeled a “non-traditional family,” (or NTF*) I strive to fill our son’s life with people, experiences, and stories that reinforce that there’s a place in the world for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, skin color, or how their family is made — including an adopted boy with two gay dads.

While our family may be atypical in it’s makeup, we are extremely typical (boringly so) in that we have the same worries as so many other parents.

How will our son do well in school?” “Will he ever eat his vegetables?” “Who will his friends be?”

Yet add to that list “Will he be treated differently for having two dads and being adopted?” and we’re back in non-traditional territory. And as any NTF parent can attest, finding books, toys, TV shows, and movies that represent your family can be challenging.

netflix titles for non-traditional families

One great resource I’ve found is something we already had — our Netflix subscription. As a long-time Netflixer (?), I consider myself an expert at finding the perfect show to appease or distract my energetic 5-year-old – or even provide some occasional downtime for his two dads.

Below is a list of nine great Netflix titles that provide just the right mix of entertainment, encouragement and empowerment for our little NTF.

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KEY

Topics addressed: ADP (Adoption) NTF (non-traditional families) SSP (same-sex parents)
Suggested viewing age: PRE (preschoolers, 2-5 yo) KID (grade school, 6-12 yo) TNS (teens & up)
Availability on Netflix: STR (available for live-streaming) DVD (available on dvd)
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non-traditional family - daniel tiger

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

A spin-off of sorts, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood features next generation characters from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood… this gives it some definite nostalgic appeal for Dad. An early favorite of my son’s, Daniel Tiger includes some of the most diverse families on any show, kids’ programming or otherwise. Katarina Pussycat lives with her mom, Henrietta; O the Owl cares for his nephew, X; Lady Elaine (who is white) and Music Man Stan (who is black) are parents to the precocious Miss Elaina. The show tackles basic pre-k concepts like sharing and forgiving, while also addressing potentially scary experiences like starting school, visiting the doctor, or getting a younger sibling. NTF PRE STR/DVD (Rated TV-Y, 40 episodes)
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non-traditional family - dinosaur train

Dinosaur Train

If you’ve got a kid who likes dinosaurs, showing them Dinosaur Train is a no-brainer. Each episode finds a family of dinos traveling by train to learn about the different species stomping, swimming, and flying around the prehistoric planet. What makes it unique is that the family consists of a Pteranodon mom and dad, their biological triplets, and adopted son, Buddy — a T. Rex. The plot is set up in the opening song, with no explanation given for how a T. Rex egg showed up in Mrs. Pteranodon’s nest — and none is needed. All aboard for some enlightened, educational fun! ADP PRE STR/DVD (Rated TV-G, 26 episodes)
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non-traditional family - tigger movie

The Tigger Movie

This 2000 theatrical release features all your favorite Winnie the Pooh characters, but stars the eternally effervescent Tigger. Tigger has always boasted about being “the only one,” yet now he longs to find others like him — his family. Madcap adventures ensue, with Tigger eventually learning that his friends have always been his family, and he’s all the richer for it. NTF PRE STR/DVD (Rated G, 1hr 17m)
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non-traditional families - guess how much i love you

Guess How Much I Love You

Based on one of our family’s favorite books, Guess How Much I Love You follows Little Nutbrown Hare as he explores the fields and forests, meets new friends, and learns life lessons from his father (Big Nutbrown Hare, duh). The stories are sweet and simple, centered around the loving, straightforward depiction of this father/son relationship. NTF PRE STR/DVD (Rated TV-Y, 26 episodes)
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non-traditional family - meet the robinsons

Meet the Robinsons

Lewis is an inventive child who’s grown up in an orphanage. Discouraged by countless failed interviews with potential parents, Lewis travels through time to find his birth mother to ask her the questions he’s always had. In the process he meets his quirky future family, follows his own advice of “keep moving forward” and decides he no longer needs to meet his birth mother, as it may endanger him ending up with this family he’s grown to love. With all the adoption interviews and time travel and searching for birth parents, be prepared for a lot of questions (we’re saving it until our son is 6 or so). But also be prepared for a fun movie to enjoy with your own “quirky” family. ADP KID DVD (Rated G, 95 minutes)
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non-traditional family - despicable me 2

Despicable Me 2

While the original film was loads of fun, its treatment of adoption was questionable at best, troubling to some. Yet in Despicable Me 2, antihero Gru has since learned a thing or two about parenting. During daughter Agnes’s birthday party, adoptive dad Gru learns the fairy princess he hired to entertain isn’t coming. So he does what any awesome parent would do — dons a pink tutu and wings and puts on the show himself. ADP KID DVD (Rated PG, 98 minutes)
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non-traditional family - powerpuff girls

Powerpuff Girls

The Powerpuff Girls weren’t so much adopted as they were a science experiment gone awry. Nonetheless, Professor Utonium quickly evolves into a caring parent to his power-packed triplets, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup. Come for the mad scientist/doting single dad, stay for the non-stop girl power! NTF KID STR/DVD (Rated TV-Y7, 6 seasons)
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non-traditional family - superman

Superman: The Movie

This movie had a lasting impact on my childhood, and it’s beyond thrilling to find new significance in it by sharing it with my son. In addition to being the most powerful person on Earth, Superman is also an outsider — an alien who will never truly feel like he belongs. Adopted by a loving couple, he nevertheless has an odd, mystical relationship with the floating head of his biological father. It’s not a huge part of the plot of this film (it’s more prevalent in Man of Steel, which my 5-year-old will have to wait a while to see), but it’s always nice to point to the super-est of heroes and say, “Superman was adopted, and he had two fathers!” ADP KID DVD (Rated PG, 151 minutes)
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non-traditional family - the fosters

PARENT TIME: The Fosters

If you’ve grown tired of the sweet-but-too-simplistic treatment of same-sex parents or adoption on comedies like Modern Family and Glee, The Fosters is a welcome dramatic alternative. Stef and Lena are an interracial lesbian couple raising a half-dozen or so kids (the number changes) who are a mix of biological, adopted, and foster. While it’s great to see well-developed same-sex parents on TV, I find myself relating to the everyday problems as much or more than those involving the characters’ sexuality or family makeup. Yet like most TV families, there is a never ending supply of drama — so hopefully you can’t relate too much! SSP/ADP TNS STR/DVD (Rated TV-14, 2 seasons)
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What movies and TV shows tell your family’s story? Share them in the comments!

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*I’ve never actually seen this acronym used — but I like it, so I’m gonna.

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comments

7 responses to “9 Netflix Titles for Non-Traditional Families”

  1. Mike Heenan says:

    Is Netflix hiring a Diversity Czar? You’d be a shoe in. Excellent write up.

  2. Mom says:

    Clever! And helpful. But the Powerpuff girls’ names are sooo sexist

  3. […] Designer Daddy 9 Netflix Titles for Non-Traditional Families […]

  4. Dana says:

    Thanks for the great roundup and for submitting this to Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day! I’m bummed that the 2007 Canadian film Breakfast with Scot, about two gay dads who adopt a flamboyant 11-year-old boy, isn’t streaming anywhere I checked (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Google Play).

  5. Mallory says:

    Love this! I’m a single mommy of a two-year old looking for more ways to explain to my daughter why her “daddy” isn’t here and we’ll definitely check out some of these. One correction on Daniel Tiger: X is the Uncle caring for O, the little owl. 🙂

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