Parent Empowerment

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Moms Are Superheroes. False. Moms Are People Who Need Real Parent Empowerment

I hate when I see articles that say “Moms Are Superheros”. I cringe, I gag, I want to barf in the nearest bag. Moms play a variety of roles in our children’s lives. These include working, playing, being up all night, cooking, cleaning up every single bodily fluid known to the human race, going and going and going and when we can’t go anymore we power through and keep going. This is why society thinks we are superheroes, but in reality we are human beings that need rest, relaxation, and self care. Most importantly we need self empowerment, we can gain this through parent empowerment. The high expectations from others and ourselves is another reminder of the gender inequality gap that exists in our nation. In order to close this gap we must educate the next generation how important girls, women and feminine presenting people are, and while we are powerful we are still human. 

We are, to be sure, a force. Every day we make decisions that alter the future of our children. If you’re here you’ve taken the first step in preparing to make real change in your household, and are ready to empower yourself and your children to  break down gender barriers. Congrats, in doing so you will play a pivotal role in your kids  empowering more kids. This will create true change in your community. But how do you start?? It’s all about the path to parent empowerment. 

Self empowerment is the key to real change, a person must feel empowered in order to empower others. Moms often do not feel empowered because we are holding the weight of the world on our shoulders. Many of us share these responsibilities with a partner but also, many of us don’t, and who really wants to add one more thing to our plate?? But, what if you could gain that power through parenting?

If you are serious about change, empowerment and breaking  down gender barriers here are 3 steps for Parent Empowerment

Reminder, as always all articles include our transgender moms and non binary parents who choose to use the term “mom” because all moms are moms!! However, many stereotypes addressed in this article are already mediated with trans and non binary moms  very existence. Happy Reading.

be open to possibilites

First we need to embrace possibilities. If we have already decided advocating for gender equality in our community will be a failure we have already failed. We need to open up our hearts and minds, ask what IS possible instead of deciding what’s already impossible.  Yes the path will be fraught with naysayers and we will gain some unsavory insights into our friends and family, but this only reinforces the important path we walk. 

I know my worth. I know my power. I say if i'm beautiful. I say if i’m strong. You will not determine my story.

Amy Schumer

Learn & reflect

Learning is key to self empowerment. It is only after we learn that we can decide which direction and what type of change we seek to make. In our previous post a short history of objectification  we discussed how women and feminine presenting people internalize their own objectification. This is a great start to look at how we ourselves, are socialized to build the walls of gender inequality, perpetuate and even increase the gap. 

If we are raising an entire generation of children how often are we projecting this same objectification onto our kids and securing sexism within our own family structure? More importantly, WHY are we putting this foothold in place and essentially advocating for our own oppression in the years to come? Mom’s could work together to take down the glass ceiling instead of securing the hooks, and break down the walls instead of framing the dry wall. 

While gender inclusivity is becoming more well known, kids are still usually forced into the gender binary from birth, see our article here . While girls who wear pants and play with dinosaurs are cooed at boys who want to wear glittery dresses and tap shoes are scorned and outdated stereotypes of masculinity reinforced in their household. In Todays Masculinity is Stifling, the author discusses how femininity is under valued and how society reinforces its own sexism generation after generation. 

Upon my own reflection I noticed I was demonizing femininity during the first year of parenting, while I considered myself feminine, a feminist and all for girl/women/non-binary empowerment, my wife and I were dead set on gender neutral clothing and giving our kids “all types of toys” but still steered clear of anything pink, lacey, or with hearts and flowers. See the beginning of our story here

One day I stopped  and asked myself why. Why was I doing this? Do I hate the color pink?? Do I hate frilly dresses? I was socialized to avoid the feminine  (likely a strategy to increase my upward mobility in life) but this left me as part of the problem, not the solution. Worse, I was impressing these notions on my own kids, decreasing their power and their ability to empower others. 

The color pink  does not have a gender, dresses are made of fabric, they protect our body from the weather and do not inherently mean anything. Our journey with gender neutral parenting was failing as we realized it was actually “masculine default” parenting style. Attempting to assuage sexism with “neutrality” ended with us defaulting to masculinity. Us….lesbians! Now are we the only lesbians that this has ever happened to…No. Do I fear less reflection for my fellow straight mom allies…Yes. 

I started reading more about valuing femininity, creating a world that also values femininity, and learning about the gender spectrum from the feminine to the masculine and everything in between and outside of that. This is how this site came to be. Our second year of parenting was more authentic. We included more feminine objects and tried not to cringe as our kids always chose the glitter pastels. P.S. ALL kids will always choose the glitter pastels because it is bright. They will always choose the frilly dresses because of the beautiful movement and how fun they are to wear!  We as moms need to give them this choice, only then will they love and accept other genders and embrace true gender equality. 

See the end of this article for a list of resources to start your own journey.

moms are superheroes

Photo By: @BurgessMilner

Embrace Your Power & take action

You are POWERFUL. You hold up the sky, the clouds and your family. You are a rock within your family structure whether you believe it or not. YOU are one of the first or one of the most loving faces your child sees. You are there to lead, guide and love them. Ask yourself if you want to guide them into a better future for them, you and others or if you want to continue living in a cycle where moms, girls, feminine presenting nonbinary people are dehumanized, belittled, laughed at and thought to be inferior. 

Action looks different for everyone. Intersectionality is key to the actions moms can take. How you decide to empower yourself and your kids is dependent on safety and access.  I am able to have this site and execute certain actions in my area because these needs are met, but even if these needs are not met there are many ways you can teach your kids to jump the gender barrier that work for you and your family. Think about what you can do today. Such as…

Advocate for a more gender inclusive books list at school or start with books that have girls and non binary characters as the main character for your own family? Check out our article Books For Raising Boys  and see if there is something you like. Books are always a great way to increase representation and break down walls. See more titles in our GCP library here.

Include additional terms in your child’s vocabulary to be a more inclusive household? See our article here.

Do you want to have an all gender birthday party? Add spas and manicures to a boy’s birthday?  Create a tech and robots birthday party for your girl??

Do you want to do a mud playdate with your girl’s best friends? 

Do you want to increase your children’s clothing options by having them shop in the “boys” AND “girls” section of the store??

Do you want to do all gender sleepovers while the kids are young?

Do you want to use they/them pronouns with your new baby? 

No action is too small. Any type of action you take will be a window into gender equality for you and your community. 

These are just a few ideas. Will this always be comfortable? No. Gender roles and sexism are rooted deep within our psyche. Women have been advocating for years for gender equality, and we are still here in 2021. Take a moment and think about what messages you are sending to your kids. Are you lifting them up and being an agent of change or are you holding down the status quo? Can we overcome gender equality for future generations…..c’mon are we moms or are we MOMS??

Empowerment requires a community, be sure to check out the GCP facebook page/group, IG and the resources below for more information and others, like us, learning to make these changes. To start your own learning I recommend the following articles, programs, movies, podcasts and books. Always check out our GCP library for more titles!

Follow US

articles & programs

The Meteor. ” A group of journalists, artists, filmmakers and media leaders who believe in the power of words, images and stories to advance gender and racial justice and equity—and transform the world”. See their excellent work, many resources in this section were recommended by them.

Marshall Plan for Moms “Marshall Plan for Moms is a national movement to center mothers in our economic recovery and value their labor by advocating for public and private sector policies that support moms.”

There’s A Strong Link Between Gender Stereotypes And Sexual Assault — Let’s Talk About It

I am a black woman with a disability. Hear me roar.

movies

THROUGH THE NIGHT is a cinema verité portrait of three working NY mothers whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center: a mother working the overnight shift as an essential worker at a hospital; another holding down three jobs to support her family; and a woman who for over two decades has cared for the children of parents with nowhere else to turn.

podcasts

books

Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch and Revolution at Point Zero, provides a documentary history of the Wages for Housework Movement. A founding member of the New York Committee and a key figure in its local, national, and international theory and practice, Federici presents an analysis of the movement’s striking insights into the radical potential of feminist politics and its critique of the received Marxist assumptions about waged and unwaged labor.

“With poise and clarity, Kendall lays out the case for why feminists need to fight not just for career advancement but also for basic needs and issues that often plague women of color, including food security, educational access, a living wage and safety from gun violence. In expertly tying the racial justice and feminist movements together, Kendall’s is one of the most important books of the current moment.”
—Time, “100 Must-Read Books of 2020”

What is feminism? In this short, accessible primer, bell hooks explores the nature of feminism and its positive promise to eliminate sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. With her characteristic clarity and directness, hooks encourages readers to see how feminism can touch and change their lives―to see that feminism is for everybody.

Now two friends, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, tell the story of their equally messy and life-affirming Big Friendship in this honest and hilarious book that chronicles their first decade in one another’s lives. As the hosts of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend, they’ve become known for frank and intimate conversations. In this book, they bring that energy to their own friendshipits joys and its pitfalls.

White women are one of the most influential demographics in America—we are the largest voting bloc, with purchasing power that exceeds anybody else’s, and when we unify to demand change, we are a force to be reckoned with. 

Yet, so many of us sit idly on the sidelines, opting out of raising our hands to do, learn, and engage in ways that could make a difference. Why?

In We Will Not Cancel Us, movement mediator adrienne maree brown reframes the discussion for us, in a way that points to possible paths beyond this impasse. Most critiques of cancel culture come from outside the milieus that produce it, sometimes even from from its targets. However, brown explores the question from a Black, queer, and feminist viewpoint that gently asks, how well does this practice serve us? Does it prefigure the sort of world we want to live in? And, if it doesn’t, how do we seek accountability and redress for harm in ways that reflect our values?

Through research, interviews, and stories of lived experience, How We Show Up returns us to our inherent connectedness where we find strength, safety, and support in vulnerability and generosity, in asking for help, and in being accountable. Showing up–literally and figuratively–points us toward the promise of our collective vitality and leads us to the liberated well-being we all want.

Writing about the rhythms and textures of what it means to live in a body that doesn’t fit, Rebekah reflects on everything from the complications of kindness and charity, living both independently and dependently, experiencing intimacy, and how the pervasiveness of ableism in our everyday media directly translates to everyday life.

Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville (1650–1705), also known as Madame d’Aulnoy, was a pioneer of the French literary fairy tale.  Her books were notably popular during her lifetime, and she was in fact the author who coined the term “fairy tales” (contes des fées). Presenting eight of d’Aulnoy’s magical stories, The Island of Happiness juxtaposes poetic English translations with a wealth of original, contemporary drawings by Natalie Frank, one of today’s most outstanding visual artists. An inspired integration of art and text, The Island of Happiness is filled with seductive stories of transformation and enchantment.

So what feeds the soul of feminists—and all women—today? To be safe, to be valued, to live in peace, to have their own resources, to be connected, to have control over our bodies and lives, and above all, to be loved. On all these fronts, there is much work yet to be done, and this book, Allende hopes, will “light the torches of our daughters and granddaughters with mine. They will have to live for us, as we lived for our mothers, and carry on with the work still left to be finished.”

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood—and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

Inspired by Albert Camus and adapted from her own lectures for Princeton University’s Toni Morrison Lecture Series, here Danticat tells stories of artists who create despite (or because of) the horrors that drove them from their homelands. Combining memoir and essay, these moving and eloquent pieces examine what it means to be an artist from a country in crisis.

Eloquent rage keeps us all honest and accountable. It reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less. When Cooper learned of her grandmother’s eloquent rage about love, sex, and marriage in an epic and hilarious front-porch confrontation, her life was changed. And it took another intervention, this time staged by one of her homegirls, to turn Brittney into the fierce feminist she is today. In Brittney Cooper’s world, neither mean girls nor fuckboys ever win. But homegirls emerge as heroes. This book argues that ultimately feminism, friendship, and faith in one’s own superpowers are all we really need to turn things right side up again.

Inspired by Albert Camus and adapted from her own lectures for Princeton University’s Toni Morrison Lecture Series, here Danticat tells stories of artists who create despite (or because of) the horrors that drove them from their homelands. Combining memoir and essay, these moving and eloquent pieces examine what it means to be an artist from a country in crisis.

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