Unpacking the Privileged Parent’s Diaper Bag

Peggy McIntosh's Unpacking Your Invisible Backpack was seminal in focusing our attentions on White Privilege, and has broadened discourse, writings, and understandings about privilege across all aspects of difference. More recently, using a similar framework and lexicon, people have focused on the very real privilege of cis-people.

These writings and discussions offer us an opportunity to shed the ignorance that comes with privilege, and recognize the systemic oppression that impacts the everyday realities of anyone who doesn't fit the models that economic, social, and political systems set out for us.

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew my privilege. I knew from the writings of McIntosh and others that I was steeped in privilege. White, hetero, educated, employed. I started, very early, in my journey as a parent, to recognize that this collection of privilege translated into pregnancy and parenting. I had choices that others did not. I had options that others did not. I had a voice that others did not.

I'm not special. Despite the writings of some high profile feminists, there are many attachment/natural/gentle parents who are aware of their privilege and work towards better pregnancy and parenting realities for all parents. I refute with my very being the idea put forth in the writings of Rosin et al, that gentle parents are by default simpering idiots toeing the patriarchal line and using their privilege to push down the oppressed.

That said, I have seen, read, heard too many people tossing around their ignorances as they nurse their dear babies. And there is no teaching tool more powerful than demonstrating our own growth, or shedding our own ignorances – in front of our kids. Our children, from birth, need to see us acknowledging our privilege and activley doing something about the divisions that create the privilege itself. Here is a short (and by no means exhaustive) list of privliege. Tomorrow, I will share a more indepth look at privilege and the ignorances/hatred that can be attached.

1. I can go to the park with my child and no one will assume that I am the nanny.

2. I am likely to find a doctor or midwife who speaks my language.

3. I am likely to find a doctor or midwife who will appreciate my decisions around childbirth and not judge it as a cultural oddity.

4. I am likely to be allowed to parent my child in anyway I want without child-services/the medical community/teachers or neighbours being overtly (or dangerously) skeptical of my choices.

5. My child is very likely to be treated with respect when we are out in our community.

6. My decision to wear my child in a sling will not be exotisized.

7. My decisions around how to feed my child will not be judged as 'good' or 'bad'

8. I am able to choose to be a stay-at-home parent, without being judged as to my 'laziness' or ability to find employment.

9. I am able to choose where my child will one day go to school.

10. If I decide to homeschool my child, I will not be judged as harming my child (by most).

11. If I want to look for childcare, I can easily find a variety of daycares where my culture and 'self' are represented.

12. When I send my child to school, I can count on him seeing people of his culture and language.

13. When people make assumptions about my gender and sexuality, they will be right and not putting me inside a box of systemic oppression that will impact my child and my ability to parent.

14. If I decide to have natural childbirth, people will not festishize it as something “my people have been doing for centuries”

15. When I am breastfeeding, I can assume that no one is thinking about National Geographic covers from the 90s and exotisizing my practice of feeding my child.

16. I can be confident that my child will not grow up seeing/hearing/reading that a heteronormative family unit is damaging and dangerous.

17. I can assume that I will be able to do the things that a parent needs to do to help their child grow and develop. I can assume that accessibilty will not be an issue for me.

18. I can assume that my families level of income will never impact how teachers/other parents or the medical community view my ability to raise my son.

19. If I need to find medical support or help for my child, it is likely that he will get it.

20. My decision to not have anymore children is less likely to be questioned.

21. I can assume that I will have a home to raise my child in next year.

22. I am confident thinking that my family will not be forcibily removed from where they live, allowing me to parent inside an extended family network.

23. I can easily find other parents of my culture and heritiage who will support me in my parenting journey.

24. If I decided to have another child, I could count on medical support and social networks.

25. I can assume that the marital status that schools, community members and other parents make about me will not impact or upset my child.

26. I can expect that my child will not be picked on or teased (or systemically oppressed) because of the colour of his skin or the language he speaks or the culture he is associate with or the land where he was born.

27. I can jump on the internet and find parenting resources in my language.

28. I am confident that neither myself nor my child will be in harm's way this weekend.

29. I am certain that my partner will not hold the safety of my child over my head so that he can control my behaviour.

Again: This is by no means an exhustive list. The privilege of cis-white-hetero-middle class parents (and their kids) is massive. This only grazes the surface.

Please add to this list and share it with other parents.


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