To begin, and this must be the vein through which any further discussion on Feminist Parenting runs, Feminist Parenting is different in every situation, every family and within every parent-child bond (arguably, parenting can be further sliced as being different with every interaction we have with our children or ourselves as parents). But, in essence: my feminist parenting is just that. It is mine.
In our house, Feminist Parenting means:
1. we actively sought out research and information about birth, and did what we could to ensure that my choices were communicated throughout the experience.
2. my partner supported me throughout pregnancy and childbirth. He respected the choices and decisions that I made about my body.
3. when our son was born we began parenting gently and with mindful attachment. I have discussed before the connections between attachment and feminism. Read bell hooks’ Feminism is for Everybody or connect with other Attached-Feminist parents to learn more.
4. despite my decision to leave my job as a teacher, we view my work as a parent equal, and as valuable as the work my son’s father does in his paid employment.
5. I strive to teach my son about oppression when it is appropriate and contextual. Got that? Being a Feminist Parent has zero to do with dogma or indoctrination. Everything we do is contextual and developmentally appropriate. Example: If my son wants to play with a doll he does. Because his sex assignment should have zero to do with what toys he plays with, books he reads or activities he is involved in. If he wants to play with trucks (and trust me, he does) he should and will.
6. my partner and I practice shared parenting. Despite working outside the home, Aodhan’s father is 100% involved in raising and parenting our child. We celebrate fatherhood as being caring and nurturing and really no different than mothering (minus the biologically ability to breastfeed and birth – if these are possible or chosen)
7. we welcome into our family a worldview that is inclusive, loving of all and intersectional. I strive to ensure that my child sees a reality that isn’t limited to our cis-heteronormative, white world. I do this through story-telling, songs and play. This does matter.
8. we practice gentle discipline. We do this not only because it is our instinct, but because we believe the research around gentle discipline, and as teachers we have first hand experience: we know that through kindness, respect and communication, people come to much better understandings. As a Feminist, I am also critical of any type of oppressive control, and thus work against it in the parenting that I do.
9. I neither hide, nor excuse my Feminist beliefs in family discussions. Aodhan’s father is an ally and celebrates me as the Feminist I am. He is proud to be raising another ally.
10. I continue to read, learn from, and connect with other Feminists – both parents and child-free.
Perhaps the most obvious element of Feminist Parenting is that I am a Feminist. I believe in discovering a world where we are free of rape-culture and where there are no more barriers, glass ceilings or ‘in spite ofs’. I believe in a time when people are loved and supported for the unique and wonderful people that they are. I raise Aodhan the way that I do because I want him to care deeply for others – no matter who they are or where they have come from. I raise Aodhan the way that I do because I want Aodhan to love HIMSELF, no matter who he is, who he loves or what choices he makes in his life. I do not ask that Aodhan be a Feminist, nor that he be an ally. I ask that he grow up in a home where love is paramount and acceptance is vital.
That is my Feminist Parenting. It isn’t perfect, and neither are we.