"I believe there is some manifestation of an interest or a skill that's going to happen later in her life as a result of her passion for princesses right now."
MEGAN ON RAISING HER DAUGHTER (5) AND SON (2.5)
PORTLAND, OR | USA
Feminism as equal access
Feminism to me is just the pursuit of equal access to any number of things like education, healthcare, money, and jobs. Growing up, I only had a basic understanding of feminism, though that changed once I started PDX Women in Tech. I've always known that I wanted to raise children who felt empowered and free to express themselves, though it didn't occur to me that my parenting values actually translates to my feminism, until I began to reflect on it for this article.
How do we teach children about feminism without using that word, a word they are unfamiliar with? Since my definition of feminism is equal access to x, y and z, I’d translate it then for my children as equal access to the toys that they want to play with, the clothes that they want to wear, the activities that they want to do. Feminism isn’t selfish–it’s not about removing my barriers or your barriers, but everyone’s barriers, and embracing what your children have chosen as well as supporting what their friends (or enemies) have chosen.
Embracing the "traditional" norms
My daughter, for example, is extremely into princesses and all things girly. Before I had children I believed that I could control or have a say in what she liked and didn't like. I naively thought we were not going to have any pink clothes, dolls, or princesses in our house. As it turns out, her preferences for those things are one hundred percent out of my control. Attempting to push her into desiring other things only backfired. We now embrace the fact that her desires are considered “traditional” for girls and we use it as a tool to expose her to other things. As an example, we find more diverse princess stories and parlay it into something more meaningful. Luckily, there are hundreds of princess stories out there that portray young girls as strong, empowered and even counter-culture.
As a parent, the worst thing I can do is keep her from the things that she loves. I believe there is some manifestation of an interest or a skill that's going to happen later in her life as a result of her passion for princesses right now. With my son, it's the same thing. He’s not to the point in his development where he's really expressing extreme preferences like my daughter is, but he definitely likes cars, blocks, and trains which are “traditionally” for boys.