year of feminist parenting

It’s the Year of Feminism! Or 2017 was. Well, the word was pretty important anyway, at least according to Merriam-Webster dictionary. Even with such a frenzy-inducing accolade as “Word of the Year,” there still seems to be significant confusion over the definition of the word. Ironic, really, considering it was brought to public attention by a dictionary.

In an attempt to learn more about the public’s misconceptions of “Feminism,” I spent a fair amount of time in the comments sections of various major news outlets (a feat of feminist heroism in and of itself). As a direct reply to all those misinformed individuals, please know that feminism is not:

  • An extreme, radical movement that will not rest until all women have become men.
  • Latent hostility toward Western Civilization.
  • An attempt to turn the United States into a “matriarchy.”
  • A bandwagon movement. (Women have been equal to men for a really long time. Forever even.)
  • Something that loud, angry women without husbands still think is necessary.
  • A way for ugly girls to have something to talk about.
  • A liberal conspiracy.
  • The worst kind of F-word (or any kind, thank you).

As real and disturbing as these fallacies are, the confusion surrounding “feminist parenting” is even more so. This column fights all the comments-section misunderstandings, which are only compounded by the fear that children are being corrupted somehow. Listen up, comments-writers. Feminist parenting is absolutely not:

  • Raising girls to be like boys.
  • Raising boys to be like girls.
  • Demanding that every mother work full-time. Or even at all.
  • Demanding that every mother quit her job so she can babywear her children in boutique baby-carriers until they’re in elementary school.
  • A belief that women are better than men, even at parenting.

What feminist parenting actually is, however, is a liberating tool for both mothers and fathers. It’s about living an authentic parenting presence and giving yourself grace by following your children’s lead, rather than forcing an expectation of perfection. Feminist parenting is:

  • Raising children to be whoever they were born to be, regardless of parents’ expectations or aspirations.
  • Making professional choices that provide both personal fulfillment and a work-life balance.
  • A way to grow and connect with our children. Mindful parenting means we get to be fully present in each stage, free to marvel at the fiercely independent people our children are becoming.
  • A philosophy to proclaim boldly to anyone who will listen. Loving and respecting children for who they are is something every parent should own and be proud of.
  • An opportunity to pause and heed our own advice. When we tell our children hundreds of times each day that they are strong and smart and courageous and kind, they believe it to be true. And if we keep saying it, we start to see glimmers of that awesomeness in ourselves as well.

Feminist parenting is, quite simply, the courage to treat oneself and one’s children with the love, dignity, and respect we all inherently deserve. Nothing sinister about that.

Rachel is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis. She is a recovering political writer and most recently taught high school English in Baltimore. She is thrilled to now be a full-time mama and writer,...