I have always been committed to raising Aodhan as a feminist, but who wouldn’t want to raise their kid a feminist?  I mean, once you give it a think, to quote Rebecca West,

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.

Sadly, too often, feminism is grossly misunderstood and misrepresented. Most feminists I know are nervous about even sharing with their family that they qualify themselves as …. shhhh … feminists.

I think that one of the greatest things I can do is raise Aodhan as a feminist. It is about educating this kid, making him aware of the countless amount of privilege he has and showing him the vast numbers of opportunities that exist for him to make this a world a better place – not just for women, but for everyone.

Here are some of the things that my partner and I do to help Aodhan be a better feminist:

1.Honour and be proud of the work you do as a mother. Kids need to value mothering or society never will.

2. Talk about your life outside of mothering. You are a whole person and our children need to see this in order to see it in other people.

3. Be open about your body, their body and other people’s bodies. We talk about everything; in clandestine moments of nudity, and when questions are asked we talk about it. This allows us to talk about SO much that he should hear: body safety, body autonomy, body confidence and body image.

4. Give your child body autonomy. When my son says he does not want to take his pants off, yet: I listen. When he tells his dad not to tickle him, he listens. Teach them that it works both ways.

5. Ditch the ugly body language, but talk about size.

6. Celebrate women. Talk about women. Love women.

7. Have healthy relationships. Our children will carry what they see and hear about our relationships – romantic or friendships – into their own relationship frameworks.

8. Demonstrate difference. Live difference.

9. Stop bashing other women. This is the ugliest of all the uglies. Judging each other in front of our kids = yuck.

10. Consider media interaction. I think about it all the time. I know how insidious media is and this is one of the biggest reasons why we don’t have a television. Commercials, movies, television shows – they are full of stereotypes and subtle ideas that work against the idea of equality. I am not judging – if you have a TV, TALK about it.

11. Show them that dads are parents too. By Kevin taking an equal share in nurturing and parenting Aodhan we are (hopefully) busting apart the stereotypes that are screaming out things like girls = babies and boys = work/jobs (because, yah, those stereotypes still exist).

We aren’t perfect, we don’t always get it right and although it works for us, maybe it wouldn’t work for you. I think that feminism gets a bad rap, people don’t look at it as a way of embracing and loving the world: I do.

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7 Responses to 11 Ways to Help Your Preschooler be a Better Feminist

  1. Jessica says:

    I get your feed on my facebook and when I read the title of this article I got pretty excited. I love it when other moms are raising their children to be socially conscious. Our household is big on feminism (or equality, as my husband puts it), gender neutrality, body awareness, acceptance of others. I don’t think that enough families put emphasis on these aspects when raising their children. I am MUCH more worried about my kiddo seeing Sleeping Beauty than if she happened to hear a song with a curse word. Thanks so much for your article, this is such great insight.

    • hisveganmama says:

      Thanks for the comment Jessica! I really love to hear from other families that are making the effort to help their children feel confident in the world and aware of people around them!

  2. Sara says:

    Hi! I think this a great post too. When you say that you and your partner take an equal share in nurturing and parenting, what does that look like to you? This is a priority for me and my family too, but we bump up against difficulties in some regards because I stay at home while my partner brings in the income for the family… so I am with the kids more hours of the week than he is. I’m curious as to how you make this work for your family. Thanks!

    • hisveganmama says:

      Hi sara!
      In our house, I too am home with Aodhan, while my husband teaches full time. But, when my partner is home he is 100% WITH aodhan – does that make sense? He is ‘on’ the entire time they are together and I am able to take the down time and self-care time I need. Kevin also does all of the cooking and cleaning (with some exceptions that are my preference). I guess it isn’t exactly 50/50 because of the need to make money, but I hope that Aodhan feels the impact of us making the decision to both parent and nurture him….I hope to hear from you on the site again. Wishing you and your family lots of happiness.

  3. PlayDrMom says:

    This is a truly great post! I love it!
    PlayDrMom recently posted..St. Patrick’s Day Fun 2012My Profile

  4. Anon says:

    The problem is that there aren’t very many feminists like this. Today feminism is very politically correct as in there is a skew toward teaching boys not to hit girls and so on. Or at least what I got in elementary school was “boys have a natural violent tenancy” so need to learn to control it. This actually teaches males aggression is normal for males and actually encourages softer behaviour in females, which back to front imo. When you mentioned raising children to be better feminists my stomach tightened because I assumed (and still do) that is is more about teaching boys they need to be this or that but teaching girls nothing. Im in Europe thought so over here you can go to college and get degrees in men are this and that and we have quotas for women etc… We actually have men’s groups and my father is in one. But the reason I think it’s not such a feminist world is because I absolutely believe feminism is not balanced. Hope you understand and thanks for the post.

    • hisveganmama says:

      Although I respect your opinion and regret that this is what you have experienced, I would point to some of the more positive and equality based feminism/feminists that I see on a daily basis (any parent that is teaching their child about equality, to respect women, to be aware of privledge is a feminist in my opinion).
      Also, perhaps you didn’t really read my post in full because I by no means addressed this to a male group – in fact, I am pretty sure it is clear that it is to a non-gendered preschooler group.

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