Students talk unconventional families


Illustration by Lillie Busch.

What a traditional American family looks like is a married man and woman with two and a half kids. Maybe the traditional family has a white picket fence as well. However, this is not always the case.

Three college students opened up about how different their lives are due to their families not being so traditional. 

Single mothers are one of the most underpaid and overworked people. Emerald Bradshaw, a practical nursing student at Jones College, said that her mother always made sure she had what she needed. Bradshaw never went a day without feeling unconditional love from her mother. Even though her father was absent, Bradshaw knew that she could depend on her grandfather to be that male influence in her life.  

“My grandpa took on the role of my dad, and we were best friends. We did everything together and he taught me how a dad should be. He never let me feel low or bad and he was always lifting me up,” Bradshaw said. 

One of the biggest struggles Bradshaw faced was feeling as if something was wrong with her as a person because she received no love from her father. However, Bradshaw could not think about this for long without her mother and grandfather stepping in and reminding her how amazing she is.  

Skyler Pittman, a Southern Miss graduate, also has a family dynamic that many people have judged. Pittman’s parents divorced when she was four years old and they both moved on to be with people of their same-sex. Pittman’s mother had custody of her; as a result, Pittman says she grew up with a very independent mindset and that men are not necessary to provide for you. Pittman’s mother taught her how to manage her life for herself and be a strong woman.  

Pittman also has an extremely close relationship with her father. She said his partner acts like a stepdad and treats her as if she were his blood.  

Pittman said there were many positive aspects to the way she was raised, and that the only downside she ever saw was from the hate people looking from the outside would give her and her family.  

“The only downside was how hateful people can be towards my family and me. My mother took us to Pride and people were literally screaming at us horrible slurs and telling us we were disgusting.” Pittman said. 

Southern Miss junior business major Kristen Gross grew up with loving parents who were not her blood. However, she said they treat her as if she is. Unlike a lot of adopted children, Gross knew she was adopted from the very beginning. She was adopted at birth from Keesler Airforce Base in Biloxi. It was a closed adoption, so not even Gross’s new parents met her biological mother.  

As Gross grew up with loving parents, she knew that her biological mother made the right decision for both of them. Her biological mother was 15 years old at the time and could not give her the life she deserved. However, Gross would become frustrated and want answers without a response. She finally learned to accept the fact that she may never get those answers.  

“My story has made me into a more forgiving and understanding person. I like to see the good in people, and I think the fact that my biological mother did this out of love really pushes me to be thankful and forgiving,” Gross said.