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Why Feminist Parenting?

This is my family:

We are almost embarrassingly normative–(mostly) white, middle class, a married man and woman with our new infant son. My husband works in an office downtown. Every morning after we have a cup of tea and breakfast together, I kiss my husband goodbye and, settle into my rocking chair for a full day of nursing, burping, and diaper changes.All I need is a ruffly apron for the scene to be from a 1950s sitcom. Or at least I should be wearing a shirt.

So, given that this picture of domestic bliss, why am I writing a blog about parenting beyond gender normativity? In part to keep the domesticity of my bliss from driving me crazy. We fill these normative gender roles for many reasons–a society that offers astronomically expensive day care as the only alternative to staying home, cultural values and ideals about gender that we have internalized despite ourselves, and to some degree personal preferences. The goal of this blog is to provide an analytical space, to engage in parenting as a reflective practice, and to confront bias and stereotype in our family and our society so that our son grows up to think critically and to speak truth to power.

I can only write from my own subject position, although I strive to consider intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability in writing and acting for social justice. I would love to have other writers with other backgrounds contribute as well. If you have thoughts about raising children as a social justice project, I’d love to hear from you. To become a contributor, email me at celesteb at umich dot edu

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3 thoughts on “Why Feminist Parenting?

  1. as a daycare worker, it has always boggled my mind how daycare can be so expensive, yet so underpaid. I know it is ridiculously expensive for the average parent, but at the same time i still make a barely living wage and i receive no benefits. I am always struggling to answer the question: how can we provide good, quality, safe day care environments that are not financially detrimental to parent or caretaker?

  2. I was working in day care when I got pregnant. I realized at one point that each of the kids in my class paid more a week to be there than I got paid in a week. Fortunately I had decent benefits, but ironically they didn't do any sort of child care benefit or paid maternity leave.

  3. LeAnne, before I became a mother, I was a daycare worker (for my full time job, I have had various part time jobs mostly for the reasons you describe- I didn't make enough to live on.And so I have also had stints in various book stores, teaching science after school programs, and a very very short one involving a certain Hungry Howies Pizza Shop…) I think the answer to your question is co-op day care. They do exist, although few and far between.I won't be surprised that if desperate parents get their hands on a co-op model, there will be co-op daycares popping up left and right pretty soon.

    Daryl and I could certainly use a second income. The only reason I left my job was because I wouldn't make enough to even cover the cost of sending my kids to daycare (yes, the one I worked at!!) There is a Montessori school right down the street that I know I am qualified to teach at, but I don't dare apply because I can't afford to work there. I have decided to work on my certifications to open an out of home business as a doula and lactation consultant, and my biggest concern about doing so, about making the investment in going to these classes and taking the tests, is will it pay off after the cost of child care.

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