Feminist Parenting

I have combed through scholarly and other works to find the definition of what feminist parenting is but found little more than pieces of vague philosophy where ever I look. I have set out to define the term “feminist parent” and what is below is a brief summary of what I’ve found and believe defines feminist parenting. This is a working definition and I believe that it’s definition is in its infancy and is still in need of development.

What I have developed is a list of characteristics, values, and behaviors found in families that practice feminist parenting.*

Characteristics, Values & Behaviors:

  • The feminist parenting unit is not bound by sex, gender, biological relationship, marital status or sexual orientation.
  • The feminist parent is any person who takes responsibility for the care and well-being of a child and self identifies as a feminist.
  • Feminist parents (when more than one are present) share ALL aspects of child rearing responsibility, work and decision-making indiscriminate of gender or sex. Children of feminist parents will also take on age appropriate responsibilities and be actively involved in decision-making.
  • Parents and children actively challenge gender roles both inside and outside the home.
  • Feminist parents encourage open communication between all family members.
  • Decisions are made as inclusively and democratically as appropriate to the child’s age and level of understanding.
  • Despite the inevitable necessity for a parent to make some decisions despite their child’s wishes, parental authority is not taken for granted and children are not discouraged from questioning excessive or unfair use of adult authority.
  • Open and inclusive communication and decision-making allows for a warm and intimate parent-child relationship.
  • Children of feminist parents learn to challenge not only patriarchy and sexism but the idea of hierarchy itself.
  • Parents encourage and model acceptance of diversity.
  • Parents engage children in discussions about imbalances of power between groups of people based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation and other discriminating characteristics and teach them to recognize discrimination.
  • Children are taught to view the world through a feminist lens and to think critically about the dominant culture.

For a more in-depth discussion on Feminist Parenting please read this post.

*In order to develop a working definition of feminist parenting, I have combined the findings of three studies on feminist parenting with definitions of feminist parenting found in edited volumes and other scholarly works on the subject. Much of the research I used to form my definition of feminist parenting was found in sources on feminist mothering and needed to be appropriated by applying to them the gender neutral term parenting. Sources can be provided via email to those that request them until I can get them posted on my resources page.

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