Feminist parenting

Not sure where to start? Then let the CRAP! (that's Child Rearing Against Patriarchy) collective lead the way with this nine-point guide. It's as easy as chaining yourself to a runaway rollercoaster...

July 25, 2010
4 min read

1 Integrate

Feminists should confront all forms of oppression, exploitation and hierarchy. Parents, carers and children are often marginalised and discriminated against, even in radical political organising. Insist that childcare is provided at every event. Understand that ‘mothering’, ‘parenting’ and ‘childrearing’ have different connotations: the next generation needs people of all genders, races, classes, sexualities, ages and abilities to help it develop healthy attitudes to life. Involve children and treat them as equals worthy of respect.

2 Bin the box

Television only makes the gender divide worse. As a compromise, try using the set just to watch videos or DVDs. Until your kids are old enough to sneak in Ben 10 box sets under their jumpers, you can more or less censor what gets played, without any annoying adverts. However, if the electronic babysitter is your lifeline to parental sanity, then keep it on. TV provides a parent with a wealth of material that highlights the inequalities in society – and therefore gives lots of opportunities to talk constructively about the realities of patriarchy with your child.

3 Be honest

You may try to kid yourself that the media and peer pressure are the biggest influences on your child, but actually it’s you! The main parent or carer is a child’s most influential role-model. Are you sexist, racist, homophobic? What, not even a little bit? Children can subconsciously absorb even the most subtle of parental behaviours. It’s okay to make mistakes – no one is perfect. But it’s important to deconstruct our own words, actions and attitudes to ensure that we don’t inadvertently pass our own prejudices onto our children. Be honest with yourself and your kids. Talk openly about sex, relationships and sexuality. Encourage children to freely express all of their emotions – no matter how painful they are.

4 Express yourself

Creatively expressing the often intense feelings that come with parenthood can be a great emotional release – whether through art, writing, music or dance. Bringing up children can seem like a lonely business at times, but there are lots of parenting blogs, networks, groups and resources out there. If it’s more anger management therapy you need, then try this: find a magazine photo of the latest yummy-mummy female celebrity, stick it onto on a dartboard and get throwing those arrows! You will begin to see the cracks appear in the smooth airbrushed image of maternal perfection … and feel a devilish sense of satisfaction.

5 Research the issues

Research the many conflicting feminist and parenting schools of thought. Natural parenting options may work for some, but others argue that it’s pushing more burdens upon the mother. For example, using washable nappies isn’t only the eco-option, it also increases parental autonomy and challenges the capitalist-consumption machine. But what about the extra housework that washable nappies can bring? Will it really be shared equally among family members? Work out what’s best for you and your family – a critical factor of feminist parenting is to stop pretending we are perfect parents.

6 Pick your battles

Constantly nagging your kids to over-analyse sexist books or toys will only push them further into the open arms of Mattel and co. Sometimes it’s best to accept minor defeat, in exchange for fostering a closer, mutually respectful parent-child relationship. Finding other ways to help build a child’s self-esteem or emotional intelligence may be more important in the long-run than bickering over Barbie.

7 Develop emergency tactics

As a last resort, when all else has failed and you find yourself in the depths of a feminist parenting emergency, nonviolent direct action can be deployed. Don’t be afraid to discretely dispose of the Action Man machine gun given by Uncle Bobby last Christmas, or the Bratz bikini set for your four-year-old from your so-called best mate. However, donating an offending item to a charity shop is only dumping the burden onto others!

8 Self-organise

Set up a childcare or home education collective, together with parents or friends who have similar ideals. Providing your own curriculum can be empowering for both adult and child, and give you much needed support. Or start a feminist children’s book club and swap revolutionary bedtime stories.

9 Raise some hell

Getting involved in activism is the best thing a feminist parent can do. If we want our children to live in a world free from oppression, then we need to actively work towards creating a world that is freer and fairer. Parents and carers will continue to be marginalised until we get out there, with our kids, to demand and organise for change. Set a good example. Show your children that they are worth fighting for, and instil in them the courage and confidence to stand up for themselves and their future.

Visit feministchildrearing.blogspot.com for links to related resources

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.
Share this article  
  share on facebook     share on twitter  

Contagion: How the Crisis Spread
Following on from his essay, How Empire Struck Back, Walden Bello speaks to TNI's Nick Buxton about how the financial crisis spread from the USA to Europe

How Empire Struck Back
Walden Bello dissects the failure of Barack Obama's 'technocratic Keynesianism' and explains why this led to Donald Trump winning the US presidency

Empire en Vogue
Nadine El-Enany examines the imperial pretensions of Britain's post-Brexit foreign affairs and trade strategy

Grenfell Tower residents evicted from hotel with just hours’ notice
An urgent call for support from the Radical Housing Network

Jeremy Corbyn is no longer the leader of the opposition – he has become the People’s Prime Minister
While Theresa May hides away, Corbyn stands with the people in our hours of need, writes Tom Walker

In the aftermath of this disaster, we must fight to restore respect and democracy for council tenants
Glyn Robbins says it's time to put residents, not private firms, back at the centre of decision-making over their housing

After Grenfell: ending the murderous war on our protections
Under cover of 'cutting red tape', the government has been slashing safety standards. It's time for it to stop, writes Christine Berry

Why the Grenfell Tower fire means everything must change
The fire was a man-made atrocity, says Faiza Shaheen – we must redesign our economic system so it can never happen again

Forcing MPs to take an oath of allegiance to the monarchy undermines democracy
As long as being an MP means pledging loyalty to an unelected head of state, our parliamentary system will remain undemocratic, writes Kate Flood

7 reasons why Labour can win the next election
From the rise of Grime for Corbyn to the reduced power of the tabloids, Will Murray looks at the reasons to be optimistic for Labour's chances next time

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 25 June
On June 25th, the fourth of Red Pepper Race Section's Open Editorial Meetings will celebrate the launch of our new black writers' issue - Empire Will Eat Itself.

After two years of attacks on Corbyn supporters, where are the apologies?
In the aftermath of this spectacular election result, some issues in the Labour Party need addressing, argues Seema Chandwani

If Corbyn’s Labour wins, it will be Attlee v Churchill all over again
Jack Witek argues that a Labour victory is no longer unthinkable – and it would mean the biggest shake-up since 1945

On the life of Robin Murray, visionary economist
Hilary Wainwright pays tribute to the life and legacy of Robin Murray, one of the key figures of the New Left whose vision of a modern socialism lies at the heart of the Labour manifesto.

Letter from the US: Dear rest of the world, I’m just as confused as you are
Kate Harveston apologises for the rise of Trump, but promises to make it up to us somehow

The myth of ‘stability’ with Theresa May
Settit Beyene looks at the truth behind the prime minister's favourite soundbite

Civic strike paralyses Colombia’s principle pacific port
An alliance of community organisations are fighting ’to live with dignity’ in the face of military repression. Patrick Kane and Seb Ordoñez report.

Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports

On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.

Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns

Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for a political organiser
Closing date for applications: postponed, see below

The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections

In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines

Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.

West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective

How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences

The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou

#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally


30