A Crash Course in Feminist Parenting (the Cliffs Notes version)

Feminism often gets a bad rap as something for lesbian femi-nazis, so suggesting you consider feminist parenting could sound extreme.

That is, until you realize that this craaaaazy idea simply mean that women should have the same social, educational, and economic opportunities as men.

Whoa, right?

It might be easy to see why people would want to raise feminist daughters - girls have a pretty vested interest in their own futures - but what may not be as obvious is how imperative it is that we raise feminist sons, as well.

As the mother of two boys, 2016 has been a rough ride. When my youngest was a baby I was relieved that I didn't have to deal with all the "baggage" that comes with a daughter and all the media pressure about weight and body image and clothes and all that. Then I learned that rape culture was so prevalent that raising a son who wasn't a rapist was more challenging that I must think.

At first I didn't realize that some of the things I did were feminist, they just made sense. Instilling a sense of body autonomy and teaching consent were practical things to do, but the more I understood about them, the more importance they had. When you have young kids it sounds like a slippery slope to compare haircuts and hugging grandma to rape culture, but it's not.

I'm no expert in this area. Intersectionality still makes my head spin a bit. I'm white and straight raising white sons, so this technically impacts them least of all.

And that's why it's so important to me.

A Crash Course in Feminist Parenting

You practically need a new college minor to sift through the literature around this, so here's a Cliffs Notes version of a crash course - a compilation of list articles with enough info to get you started. We're all making it up as we go anyway, but at least you'll have a foundation.

“DEAR IJEAWELE, OR A FEMINIST MANIFESTO IN FIFTEEN SUGGESTIONS” by Chimamanda Adichie

10 Ways Feminist Parents Raise Strong-Willed Boys To Be Amazing Men by Sabrina Joy Stevents

10 Things Feminist Moms Do Differently Than Any Other Parents by Jamie Kenney

11 Way to Raise a Feminist Son Because Feminism Is Good for Everyone by Britni de la Cretaz

5 Ways I Practice Intersectional Feminist Parenting by Akilah S. Richards

Why I Am Raising My Child to Be a Feminist and Why I Think You Should Too by Dan Arel

21 Ways to Raise a Feminist Child by Lyndsay

Want to Be a Feminist Parent? 4 Goals to Consider by Paige Lucas-Stannard

9 Way to Teach Consent to Your Toddler Before They're Old Enough to Explain It by Sarah Bunton

This is not exhaustive, but if we make an effort to listen and learn, and model that for our kids, we're on the right track.

Playful Parenting Techniques That Work

If you've ever found yourself sweating and on the brink of tears in the back of your car trying to shove your child as gently as possible into their car seat after 30 minutes of struggle and hysteria, you're not alone.
I've been there more times than I care to admit.

Then I read the book Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen. I tried a few of his suggestions. Within a few days, it got easier. He didn't struggle as much. It didn't take as long. I wasn't crying.

Sold.

Cohen is both a play therapist and a dad. I appreciated his perspective as a professional mixed with his personal experiences at home with his own daughter.
[Read more...]

The Paradox of the Lonely Mother

After becoming a mother you're rarely alone. My son's favorite place has always been pressed against me at all times.

(I'm not sure how dads get a free solo pass to the bathroom but there has to be some mystery left in the universe.)

Yet, at the same time, motherhood can be extremely isolating.

We no longer live in village communities where extended multi-generational families care for each other. I'm not romanticizing this idea, but as someone whose immediate family lives thousands of miles away, there is a certain appeal.

We feel pressure to bounce back, whether it's into our pre-baby jeans, fitness routine, work schedule, or other obligations.

Yet we have no idea how motherhood will change us. No matter when (or if) we fit back into those jeans, a different person is putting them on. Our lives revolve around different needs and priorities, few of which are our own.

I have over 1,000 friends on Facebook, yet do I really know what's going on in their lives? I talked to a friend recently on Skype and said, "I know all about your kids' sleep schedules, but how are YOU?"

I love all the connections I have on social media to share experiences, yet how deep do those connections go? And what experiences do we actually share?

I'm guilty of this myself.

Every night I post three "daily positives" on my Facebook wall. They range from moments of gratitude to fun things we did or silver linings I experienced that day. Some days I truly have to dig deep.

Those posts are for ME.

But when other people look at them, they may think everything over here is sunshine and roses all the time.

I don't post about the breakfast my son threw on the floor that I had to clean up, or the potty accident he had, or how he ran out the back door naked while I was trying to clean up the afore(not)mentioned messes. I don't want to dwell on those moments in my own life.

I don't want to constantly read about those moments from others, either, to be honest.

Like I mentioned to a friend, people don't get dogs so they can pick up poop, but that's also part of the deal.

But I know that my posts play into the idea that everything is going well all the time. And that's not true.

Parenting Secret: None of us really have our shit together.

After this topic came up multiple times in a week, I organized my first mama circle here in San Diego. I have never led anything like this before and wanted to make sure it worked like I thought it would. It ended with everyone in tears and a group hug. It was amazing.

The most voiced comment? "I thought I was the only one."

You're not the only one.

It's hard to be vulnerable at all, let alone when we're chasing our kids at the park or trying to stop our toddlers from eating food they found on the ground or changing a diaper. It's hard to maintain a complete train of thought when we're parenting, let alone finish a sentence - or truly listen to one. It's hard to truly connect.

Humans are social animals. Even introverts need to be heard and understood.

I'll be holding more Mama Circle events soon, and eventually offer virtual events, too. It's important to connect, speak, and be heard. Being our best selves makes us better moms. Together. We're not alone in our struggles.

My last circle before maternity leave will be on May 6th, or get sporadic email updates by entering your contact info below.

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Let's be honest - you'll forget to check back. Because mom brain is real.

The Biggest Secret of Parenting

Before my son was born I read a lot more about birth than parenting. Considering that information only covered about 12 hours from my first contraction, I had a lot of catch up to do once he arrived.

And wow, the learning curve felt steep. When he was around 10 months old I finally read this article about features of a high needs baby. My son met 11 of the 12 criteria.

I just thought all babies were like that because he was the only one I had.

Other moms' mentioned their high-needs babies and I thought about how terrible that sounded - my son wouldn't sleep longer than 37 minutes, had to be constantly held, and went from 0-to-hysterical in 3 seconds flat. And they had it worse?

Apparently not. Whew.

(Looking back I have no idea how I survived those first two years with my sanity relatively intact, though that's up for debate.)

Entering my third trimester of pregnancy with my second child I vacillate between peace and panic. On one hand, at least I have some idea of what to expect.

On the other hand, I have some idea of what to expect -- plus a 3-year-old. Hold me.

Parenting Secret: None of us have ANY IDEA what we are doing

With my first I felt intense pressure to "do it right." I wanted to read all the books and articles and expert opinions.

Then I learned that anyone who tells you there is one way to do anything is selling you their book.

Do I give weight in to experienced professionals say and what studies can show us? Yes. But the most important thing is doing what works for me and my family. I am the expert at my children.

So I'll stock up on strategies for smooth transitions for siblings, but this time I will have fewer expectations of myself. Because I don't know much about THIS baby yet.

In a class with Pam England (author of Birthing From Within) she explained her philosophy of "B+ Parenting."

She said that none of us can ever be a perfect parent. When we think we can, we set ourselves up for failure. Instead, she says, aim to be a B+ parent. Better than average, but without the pressure of never screwing anything up.

We will inevitably screw up.

That's what parenting is about. It's picking our battles and trying not to screw up too bad while loving the crap out of these little imperfect humans. We're learning along with them.

You're doing the best you can with what you have available at the moment. That's enough.

You're enough.


Not feeling like it lately? Motherhood can be an overwhelming hamster wheel of laundry and trying to remember what else you need to do.

If you're feeling stuck and don't even know where to start, you're not alone. If you need a hand to make the leap, I'd love to offer mine.

CLICK HERE to book a FREE Save Your Sanity Session

Want to stay in the loop?

Let's be honest - you'll forget to check back. Because mom brain is real.