‘Colours are for Everyone’ + 38 More Phrases for Feminist Parenting

A little visitor came to our house for the first time recently. This was the conversation between the visitor and my four-year-old son, SBJ:

Visitor: Whose bike is that?

SBJ: Mine!

V: It can’t be yours. It’s pink. Pink is a girl colour.

SBJ: No, colours are for everyone. Pink is one of my favourite colours. I like my pink bike.

WOO HOO! Notch up a feminist parenting victory!

(For balance and transparency, feel free to read my feminist parenting humiliation post next.)

For my first International Women’s Day post, a couple of years ago, I suggested eight ways to make lives easier for women, locally and globally. You can read it here.

This year, linking up again with Lulastic and the Hippyshake’s annual celebration of women and feminism, I’ve crowdsourced a list of great phrases to use in family life to help our kids be a generation that dismantles patriarchy and celebrates equality, fairness and diversity.

Some are directly about gender and sexism, some apply more obliquely, but all of them contribute to building a better world, where everyone can thrive. Please add your ideas in a comment at the end of the post. Thanks!

39 phrases for feminist parenting (1)

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Feminist parenting phrases for addressing sexist stereotypes

‘Colours are for everyone’

The wonderful bluemilk once ran a workshop on gender and sexism at her daughter’s school.

For five- and six-year-olds.

Don’t you wish your kids’ preschool and school ran these?

Reading about it was my introduction to this super handy phrase that is excellent, catchy shorthand for any number of more frustrated and sweary phrases that might be on the tip of your tongue when someone tells you that your child is wearing the ‘wrong’ colour.

More than a fling purple flowers t-shirt Freedom Kids | 'Colours are for everyone!' - one of a great list of phrases for feminist parenting | Sacraparental.com

More than a fling purple flowers t-shirts, image via Freedom Kids, used with kind permission

Fans of QI (or, you know, knowledge) may have learnt that as late as World War II, magazines in the United States were advising pink for boys (a bit like blood, but pastel?) and blue for girls (associations with the Virgin Mary?). Not till the 1950s did the current match-up become popular in the United States.

When I was a kid in the 1970s and 1980s the blue/pink divide was barely in existence for practical purposes. But now it’s a different story. Retailers simply sell more clothes (and toys, linen, books, plates – anything a child might touch) if boys and girls can’t share.

It’s not just pink and blue, of course. Go to any major children’s clothes shop or section, and you’ll find a sharp divide between frilly, vacuous and limiting pink and purple clothes for girls, and military or vehicle themed clothes in swamp colours for boys. It’s stark.

If you’re interested in gender-neutral (as in, ‘clothes are for everyone’) kids’ clothing, here are some leads:

‘Toys are for everyone’

A natural companion to the colours one, of course.

I think this flow chart is all we need:

 

Image description: Is this toy for boys or for girls: a quick guide. Flowchart with one question: 'Do you operate the toy with your genitals?' Yes: This toy is not for children. No: This toy is for either boys or girls.

Image description: Is this toy for boys or for girls: a quick guide. Flowchart with one question: ‘Do you operate the toy with your genitals?’ Yes: This toy is not for children. No: This toy is for either boys or girls.

And of course, in particular, this pointed cartoon about boys and dolls.

'Toys are for everyone!' - one of a great list of phrases for feminist parenting. Whip it out whenever someone tells your son he shouldn't play with dolls, or calls your daughter a tomboy for liking trucks. | Sacraparental.com

Oh, and for a particularly horrendous example, check out Alex’s take on these fridge magnets for kids:

'Toys are for everyone!' - one of a great list of phrases for feminist parenting. Whip it out whenever someone tells your son he shouldn't play with dolls, or calls your daughter a tomboy for liking trucks. | Sacraparental.com

'Toys are for everyone!' - one of a great list of phrases for feminist parenting. Whip it out whenever someone tells your son he shouldn't play with dolls, or calls your daughter a tomboy for liking trucks. | Sacraparental.com

 

‘Actually, girls and boys are very similar’

Or, the longer version, which continues, in my house, with something like: “There are hardly any differences. Definitely nothing to do with whether you like music/play with dolls/enjoy climbing/plan on being an engineer or not.’

There are plenty of theories of gender around, but most people agree that before puberty, the similarities between children of all genders are far more dominant than any differences.

For myself, I tend to think that the only differences between girls and boys are things that directly involve their genitals, like how to clean your bottom in the shower, or use the toilet. For everything else, boys and girls should have the same opportunities and experiences, right?

For a fantastic exploration of this, and how so many perceived differences between boys and girls are created by unconscious behaviour of adults, check out this great article.

‘I have some more information for you that you might be missing.’

Of course most of the sexist crap that comes out of the mouth of my child is stuff he’s heard outside our house. And some of it is just trying to make sense of the world, like observing that most men have short hair, and extrapolating that to ‘men have to have short hair’.

I do need to remind my firecracker self that it’s no child’s fault if they think or say that pink is a girl’s colour or boys can’t play with dolls, and they may or may not actually believe it, either.

So as much as hearing children say that stuff pushes my buttons something fierce, I do try to be dispassionate about it.

I’ve learned that it is very hard to logic my son out of this stuff. If he’s repeating what a friend has told him, he’s likely to stick to his guns in the face of any argument to the contrary. For a while, for example, he went around saying he didn’t like girls. This was despite the clear evidence of his many good friends or loved relatives who were female. When I pointed that out, he just adjusted his stance: ‘I mean I don’t like girls that aren’t my friends.’ Argh!

But this phrase has been quite useful in many know-it-all contexts. It is a buffer between his assertion and mine, so we aren’t having a direct debate, we’re just working together to put all our data to good use:

‘I have some information you might not have: Girls and boys are actually very similar. There are hardly any differences.’

‘I have some information you might be missing: Kent was a grown up man and he had long hair. So men must be allowed to have long hair. Isn’t that interesting?’

‘I have some information you might not have: colours are for everyone. Isn’t that great?’

Feminist parenting phrases for building a culture of consent

‘I’m the boss of my own body. You’re the boss of your own body.’

It’s enormously important to help children grow a sense of their own bodily autonomy – and how to respect someone else’s.

Pick wording that fits your family (you might prefer ‘in charge of’ to ‘the boss of’, for instance), and make it clear that human beings have the right to control their own bodies.

Can you imagine the percentage drop in sexual assault if all children grew to really understand these twin concepts?

'I'm the boss of my body' SUCH an important concept and phrase for child safety and for dismantling rape culture - and one of a great list of phrases for feminist parenting | Sacraparental.com

If we are to dismantle rape culture, we need to make sure our kids – when very young – understand just who is in charge of their body: them.

This can start when they’re babies. I return regularly to His Feminist Mama’s post on consent and little kids:

Affection: Help your babies learn to say no. They might not want to kiss grandma goodbye, or they might not feel comfortable holding a neighbour’s hand. Don’t confuse (or let relatives confuse) these normal reactions to touch, with thoughts about how ‘well mannered’ your child is, or how much your child ‘likes’ that person. Advocate for your babies when they don’t want that kiss or cuddle. Be prepared for friends and family to not understand your decisions not to force affection, and be clear that it is your child’s choice and that you support her/him.

This rule goes for parents as well. If our kids don’t want to be hugged or kissed following a fall or a moment of anger, respect this – show them that you honour their choices. If they don’t want to be carried (and it is safe): put them down. Talk often about how families hold hands when crossing the road, or that in moments of danger a parent might grab a child to make sure they are safe. Talk about these things often so they don’t come as a surprise to a child when you are protecting their safety.

[Read more at Our Feminist Playschool.]

Thoughtful parents will debate the limits of this autonomy when it comes to things like teeth-brushing, medicine-taking and matters of physical safety, but leaving aside those difficult areas for the moment, there are still SO MANY parts of many kids’ lives where their bodily autonomy is routinely ignored or undermined by mainstream parenting practices.

‘Give Grandma a kiss.’ (More on allowing kids to refuse hugs at Lulastic.)

‘Get off the stool’ (as we swoop in and move the child ourselves)

‘Time for a bath’ (regardless of desire or dirtiness)

‘Two more bites’ (regardless of hunger or nutritional status)

‘Time to get up’ (regardless of tiredness).

Now, back to the difficult edges of this autonomy, when we’re dealing with small children whose frontal lobes and, let’s face it, knowledge of microbiology and good hygiene are not fully developed.

We will all have slightly different views on this. Here’s mine. Please feel free to talk about yours (kindly) in the comments below.

For myself, I think there are two keys to being respectful of our children’s bodily autonomy, even in those moments where we feel we have to override their lack of consent:

  1. Thinking carefully about whether this is a necessary thing, or just something we assume all children have to have done to them. (Lucy, again, has a great piece on the necessity or otherwise of daily baths, to get you thinking about this some more.)
  2. Talking to our kids with empathy, in an age-appropriate fashion, about what’s going to happen, why, and how, and giving as many choices and opportunities for control as possible.
    Think of the example of needing a shot of medicine after an injury:
    ‘I’m so sorry. I know you don’t want to have an injection. We’re doing it to keep you safe and healthy. Yes, you are in charge of your body, in almost every case. But it’s very hard for little people to decide to have injections, so I’m making this decision for because I am your partner in helping you be safe and healthy. Would you like to sit on the bed or the chair? Would you like me to hold you or sit next to you? Shall we do something special afterwards? What would you like to do?’
    And so on…

‘Would you like to give a cuddle or a high five or nothing right now?’

This can be followed, if necessary, by ‘You get to choose because you are in charge of your own body.’

This, from Rev Katie, sums up the problem and the solution:

Finally I realized that if I believe we all decide what gets to happen to our bodies, and if I do not think adults should be forced into intimate contact, I should never require my son to give up authority over his own body. Not for anyone.

Hugging is not a sign of respect. A sign of respect is when we treat other people with care and we honor their wishes. A sign of respect is when we do not force our bodies on another person. Requiring that our children hug others as a sign of “respect,” or out of duty, or to prove their love means we are not respecting our children.

In fact, we are teaching our children three things:

1. Their bodies are not their own.

2. People in power can take advantage of their bodies.

3. When they have power, they can take advantage of other people’s bodies.

We can teach our children to be respectful by teaching them to say goodbye to their grandparents and thank their grandparents for having them over for dinner. Our children do not need to give “hugs and kisses,” or even say “I love you,” if they do not want to.

[Read more at The Body Is Not an Apology.]

So these phrases:

‘Would you like to have a cuddle or a wave or nothing right now?’

‘You get to choose because you are in charge of your own body.’

are as much for the adults’ benefit as the kids’. If we are with adults who are used to children being forced to give hugs, we can help them understand what’s going on by saying this out loud.

Giving these options (or whatever would work for your kids) has another couple of side benefits. If a kid chooses the hug of their own volition, the adult visitor knows it means more than if it were out of forced politeness. And it guides the child in how to listen to their feelings and choose an action that matches them. Often kids will go from a reluctant politeness to a cheery high five once they know there’s an acceptable option that fits how they feel.

‘We always ask before we touch someone’

This is helpful for all sorts of situations, including rough play as well as unwanted affection.

With our four-year-old, I find I say a version of this several times in every play-date, just as a gentle reminder, and often paired with a reminder that the friend is in charge of her own body.

It could be useful when:

  • a kid wants to cuddle a friend but she’s not in the mood
  • she wants them to run together so she grabs him
  • he nags her to jump off something she is a bit timid about
  • he goes to grab a toy off her
  • a baby affectionately but scratchily gropes someone’s face
  • she wants to look at his belly-button
  • someone is pushing
  • a parent is feeling touched out and needs some space (a concept that surely all children find difficult with their own taken-for-granted parents).

‘Are you listening to his/her/my ‘no’?’

I use this a lot, in all sorts of contexts.

Sometimes it’s refereeing kids who are trying to convince each other of what the next game will be. Sometimes it’s to interrupt someone nagging me. 

Every time I say it I feel like I’m doing the world some good. Everyone needs to know that their ‘no’ will be respected.

‘Penis. Vulva.’

Back to Lucy, who has done a lot of child safety work on this:

“That woman has a vulva. And that one. She’s got one, probably, and her too. There are vulvas EVERYWHERE.” We were at the pool, in the changing room, and Ramona was quite accurately pointing out that there were vulvas all over the place.  Did I want the slippery, pube littered tiled floor to open up and swallow me? Just a little? Oh Yep. I had taught my daughter the word vulva on purpose… but I wasn’t ready for that.

And here is the most important, the really serious case for why “fanny” and “vajay” don’t cut it. People who work in child sexual abuse prevention understand that knowing the anatomical terms for genitals can actually protect children from abuse. It is three pronged- children knowing anatomical terms for private parts usually indicates that there is healthy communication about genitals meaning children are more likely to discuss any scared feelings/ scary situations they experience with their parents or carers. Using these words also deters predators as it shows an understanding, and finally it helps specialists in the aftermath of child sexual abuse as children can accurately describe what happened.

In The Atlantic Laura Palumbo, a prevention specialist with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), explains how teaching the words vagina, penis and vulva promotes positive body image, self confidence, and parent-child communication; discourages perpetrators; and, in the event of abuse, helps children and adults navigate the disclosure and forensic interview process.

[Read more at Lulastic and the Hippyshake.]

Vulva is not a dirty word | Lulastic.co.uk

‘We don’t have secrets in our family’

This was new to me last year and my son has taken it to heart. Woe betide the adult who mentions the word ‘secret’ in his presence, in any context! ‘But we don’t have secrets in our family!’ he will tell you in no uncertain terms.

This is the article that drew the phrase to my attention:

About a month ago, our family was having dinner with some friends at their house. I walked into the kitchen just as the other mom, while winking at me, handed my son a second cookie and whispered, “shhhh. It’s a secret. Don’t tell your mom.” To my delight {and surprise}, my son exclaimed, “Oooooh, but we don’t keep secrets in our house. We do surprises.” In that moment I thought, he gets it and he’s not afraid to say it, thank goodness.

You see, thanks to an excellent Sexual Abuse Prevention workshop that my husband and I attended, called Parenting Safe Children, we have a “no secrets” rule in our house. We have this rule because secrecy is a key ingredient to the sexual abuse of a child. In fact, sexual predators count on the fact that the child will keep a secret. Sometimes they even test the child by asking him to keep small, innocent secrets first to see if he will keep bigger ones later. So, when we teach our children that we don’t keep secrets, even about small and seemingly harmless things like a cookie, we are also instilling in them that they don’t have to keep big and unsafe secrets, like that of someone touching them inappropriately.

[Read more at Denver City Moms.]

Feminist parenting phrases for helping kids love their bodies

I don’t think the perils of poor body image need any introduction here. Suffice it to say that the society around us is going to work really hard to tell our kids that

a) how their bodies look is the most important thing

b) their bodies look wrong.

If you are a parent with less than stellar body image yourself, you might like to read my post on trying not to pass that on to our kids.

And for some key phrases to pepper your daily conversation with, read on.

‘I love how strong those legs are getting!’

One great tip I’ve picked up is to balance out all of the talk of how a body looks – even if it’s positive – with talking about what a body can do. Things like:

‘Your body is great at healing itself. See how that cut from last week is healing so well?’

‘You’re getting taller! It must be all the good things you do for your body. All that eating and drinking and resting and running around!’

‘We walked a long way today. Let’s say thanks to our strong bodies! Good job, bodies!’

‘Doesn’t it feel great to be able to swim?’

‘When you cough, that’s your body looking after your lungs. Isn’t your body amazing?’

‘Great balancing! Your inner ear is helping you to stay on the beam!’

‘Isn’t my tummy fantastic? It did such a good job of holding you and your sister when you were tiny.’

‘I love how you can use your arms to give me such lovely cuddles. Thank you, arms!’

‘I love having tastebuds! They make food so much fun.’

‘What are you reading?’

I live my life surrounded by gorgeous children. They’re all so cute! And their clothes are so fabulous! I really struggle with how to express positive, connecting compliments in a way that isn’t going to contribute to kids growing up thinking that how they look is super important.

I found Lisa Bloom’s piece on this crystallised things well for me:

Little Maya was all curly brown hair, doe-like dark eyes, and adorable in her shiny pink nightgown. I wanted to squeal, “Maya, you’re so cute! Look at you! Turn around and model that pretty ruffled gown, you gorgeous thing!”

But I didn’t. I squelched myself. As I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are.

What’s wrong with that? It’s our culture’s standard talking-to-little-girls icebreaker, isn’t it? And why not give them a sincere compliment to boost their self-esteem? Because they are so darling I just want to burst when I meet them, honestly.

Hold that thought for just a moment.

This week ABC News reported that nearly half of all three- to six-year-old girls worry about being fat. In my book, Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, I reveal that 15 to 18 percent of girls under 12 now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and 25 percent of young American women would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Even bright, successful college women say they’d rather be hot than smart. A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery, leaving behind two teenagers. This keeps happening, and it breaks my heart.

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.

That’s why I force myself to talk to little girls as follows.

“Maya,” I said, crouching down at her level, looking into her eyes, “very nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too,” she said, in that trained, polite, talking-to-adults good girl voice.

“Hey, what are you reading?” I asked, a twinkle in my eyes. I love books. I’m nuts for them. I let that show.

[Read more at the Huffington Post.]

It’s not that I never tell children that they are beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful. But I’m trying to make that a fraction that represents the importance of appearances in our value system. Small.

Some warm, friendly alternatives when you first meet a kid (or first see them that day), instead of commenting on their appearance:

‘Hi! It’s always so nice to see you!

‘I really love it when you come to our house!

‘How is your day going so far?’

‘What have you been doing today?’

‘What’s that in your hand?’

There are heaps of ‘100 questions to ask your child’ lists on the internet, but they tend to be either deep-and-meaningful things to ask a child you are close to, or artificial ice-breaker questions like ‘if your pet could talk what would it say?’ that I personally can’t stand. Instead, I tend to go for things that are substantial questions about their daily lives and the things that are important to them.

Some other ways to open conversations with kids (please add your favourites in the comments below):

‘I heard that you are into hopping/giving high fives/tying your shoelaces these days. Can you show me?’

‘I just found out that koalas’ pouches have the opening at the bottom instead of at the top like a kangaroo’s. What are some interesting things you know about animals?’

‘What are your favourite books at the moment?’ (for little kids who can go through a few picture books at a time).

‘What are you reading at the moment?’ (for older kids who might have a chapter book on the go).

Need some ideas for talking to kids without commenting on their appearance? 9 questions here, plus heaps more other stuff for thoughtful parenting| Sacraparental.com

‘Other people’s bodies aren’t our business’

This is handy for all sorts of situations, including those embarrassing moments when your kid points at someone’s large breasts in the street…

'Other people's bodies aren't our business' - something I'm trying to say often with our little kids. From 'Colours are for everyone!' - one of a great list of phrases for feminist parenting | Sacraparental.com

It’s a good touchstone for teaching kids that:

  • we don’t need to satisfy our own noseyness, like assuming we can ask if someone’s pregnant, or why someone uses a wheelchair (those are appropriate questions sometimes, but not just because we’re curious)
  • we don’t need to cultivate opinions about other people’s bodies: who’s beautiful, who’s tall, who has had a broken nose.
  • people often don’t want to discuss their bodies with other people, and they should never have to
  • people are always allowed bodily privacy if they want it
  • we don’t get to make choices about other people’s bodies
  • we shouldn’t make qualitative judgements about other people’s bodies
  • we don’t get to touch other people’s bodies without their permission
  • their own body is their private body that is no one else’s business
  • people might not want to talk about what they just did in the toilet (!)
  • (as kids grow in knowledge of such things) other people’s consensual sexual activity is not our business
  • other people’s eating behaviour is not our business: ‘It’s best not to comment on other people’s eating’ is something I say as necessary.

Feminist parenting phrases for building emotional literacy

So much of what trips us up as adults is down to not being emotionally ‘literate’. I think this can be problematic for both boys and girls in mainstream parenting, so here are a few ideas for helping our kids to understand how they are feeling, and how to find out how other people are feeling.

‘Are you feeling a feeling?’

 

I love this Sesame Street video of Dave Matthews and Grover making sense of conflicting emotions. Here are the lyrics:

I made a wish
With all of my heart
To take a rocket ship
Up to the moon.

Well, I’m SAD and I’m MAD
And I don’t have a rocket
Because the wish that I wished
Did not come true.

I have a friend with a cape
Who can fly through the sky
And I’m jealous
‘Cause I wanna fly too.

Well, I’m proud that I know him
And I’m happy he’s my friend
But I wanna be a superhero too.

Nobody wants to be angry, I know
Nobody wants to be sad
But I can’t always help
The way that I’m feeling
I won’t always be happy
Oh, well.

This was what led us to start saying in our family, ‘Are you feeling a feeling?’

It’s great for when you or your child don’t quite know what’s wrong, but something is.

‘What kind of feeling are you feeling? Are you angry? Sad? Worried? Embarrassed?’

These questions have almost never failed to lead to a useful conversation, from when our little one was about two. Try them out.

Emotional literacy with Grover and Dave Matthews on Sesame Street | Sacraparental.com

‘Feelings are for everyone’

Boys and girls alike are allowed to feel and express the whole range of human emotion. Full stop.

Boys are allowed to cry. Girls are allowed to feel angry. It is a denial of humanity to suggest otherwise.

It's not just toys and colours that have been co-opted by capitalism! 'Feelings are for everyone!' - one of a great list of phrases for feminist parenting | Sacraparental.com

 

Feminist parenting phrases for practising critical thinking together

‘Isn’t it strange that there are hardly any girls in this show.’

From my post on sexism in kids’ media:

Of course our kids will routinely experience misogyny, racism, exclusion, violence and general unkindness throughout their media-consuming lives. And that’s just The News.

Exposure to the bad stuff, accompanied by age-appropriate critique, can be a brilliant and valuable part of developing a social conscience and consciousness. It’s when the background, subtle exclusion of media goes uncritiqued that it’s at its most harmful, I reckon.

Some basic things you can say and ask with little ones to get the ball rolling, if this is a new idea:

  • ‘Hm, that doesn’t seem very kind. What do you think?’
  • ‘I’m surprised he said girls can’t climb trees. We know lots of girls who are great climbers, don’t we.’
  • ‘Isn’t it weird how all the boys get to have better adventures in this show? If I made a show like this I think I’d give some good times to the girls too – what about you?’
  • ‘Did you notice that no one listened to her say no. How do you think she would have felt?’
  • ‘It’s good to watch a variety of things, isn’t it. This show has lots of boy characters. What’s something awesome that has lots of girl characters? Let’s watch that next!’

For more sophisticated discussion on how to connect with kids and their media experiences, especially with older children, check out Commonsense Media, which has heaps of great resources.

[Read more here.]

The Maisy Test- 4 Questions to expose sexism in kids' shows

[Pin this for handy reference]

And one last excellent addition to the critiquing media section, from a member of a feminist mother’s group I’m part of on Facebook:

‘Half of the dinosaurs were female!’

… which you’d hardly know from watching most kids’ shows with any animals.

The Wild Kratts (my son’s current on- and off-screen obsession) is a notable exception here, and wow, is it noticeable that half the starring animals are female. It’s stark. And it shouldn’t be.

‘What do you think about that?’

Your best conversation of the day will be the one that starts with this question. Try it once a day and see what happens.

‘It’s good that people are different.’

Most ‘isms’ come from difference, right? So dismantling patriarchy and all the other damaging power structures in our societies has to come from us and our kids embracing the ‘other’.

As little kids make sense of the world, they try to categorise everything and everyone, so don’t freak out when your child first says that they don’t like people with [insert skin or hair colour or accent that’s different from your family]. This is the time to talk about how great it is to have difference in the world.

Remind your little one that some of their favourite foods came originally from different parts of the world. Think about the people they love (in real life and media) who are different from them. Play some cool music from a different culture and celebrate it.

The time will come – probably earlier for families of colour, sadly – when you’ll have to talk about power structures and racism and hatred as well. It’s not enough for white families, for instance, to teach kids to be ‘colourblind’, because the reality is that they need to see the problem to be part of solving it.

Here’s a helpful resource on talking with kids about race, as a starter.

‘We all help with all the jobs’

The single biggest thing that would change women’s experience of work and family life would be a generation of men who did as much housework and caring work as the women in their lives.

Imagine if we could be the parents who raised that generation? Feminist parenting is powerful!

For more motivation and ideas of what to aspire to when raising sons, I adore this list of ways men can make the world better for women. Read it through with an eye to your own kids and how likely they are to make these kinds of choices. What conversations could you have with them to help?

39 phrases for feminist parenting (7)

What else?

I’m going to stop there. For now. And leave it to you to fill in the gaps in the comments below, okay?

What else do you find yourself saying? What do you need some brainstorming with us about? Let’s keep sharing resources here.

Bonus: a few phrases we can kick to the kerb

Let’s ditch these forever, eh?

‘Boys will be boys.’

‘He throws like a girl.’

‘She’s such a tomboy’

‘Look, the baby’s flirting with him!’

‘He’s going to be a heart-breaker!’

‘Rules for dating my daughter’

‘Such beautiful eyelashes! Wasted on a boy.’

Anything else? Add your pet peeve in the comments below.

For more on how we ‘over-gender’ our kids and their books, toys, adjectives and clothes, you might like to read:

When Words Fail

Is This Toy for Girls or Boys?

I’m Not Bossy I Just Have Better Ideas

Can Your Daughter Be a Hero?

A Mighty Need

If you have other examples or stories share, please leave a comment below. Ranting encouraged :) but all opinions welcome.

You can keep up with Sacraparental via Facebook for daily snippets, Twitter for general ranting and raving andPinterest for all sorts, including a Gender Politics board.

Gender neutral parenting infographic: 'Colours are for everyone!' - one of a great list of phrases for feminist parenting | Sacraparental.com

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27 comments on “‘Colours are for Everyone’ + 38 More Phrases for Feminist Parenting”

  1. Emily Reply

    Aghh! I love this! I’m going to spend hours going through it and thinking it over. Thanks for putting it together!

  2. Lulastic Reply

    Oh my goodness I actually got shivers reading this! It is EVEYTHING!! It pulls together almost all of my parenting philosophy, but I somehow hadn’t seen it as coming under the umberella of my feminism. This is probably my favourite parenting post on the Internet. THANK YOU!

  3. Frank McColl Reply

    This is fabulous Thalia! We use so many of your phrases. I can see when Lachie starts school in 2 months we will need to add in a few more… he’s already been asking interesting gendered questions about school.

    I just read a great Teacher Tom post about not saying “we don’t…” It’s totally reframed my approach to such statements. Check it out: http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.co.nz/2016/03/we-dont-hit-people.html

  4. MarMerSea Reply

    Oh, thaaaaank yooooou. What beautiful, wise, empowering resource. Hooray!

  5. Heather Reply

    I love this post, but it also made me kind of sad…

    As I’ve mentioned here before, I don’t (and can’t) have kids – but I do have a number of parent friends who appreciate it when I occasionally send them resources I’ve come across that I think they might find useful. So, when I read this and thought it was awesome, I started scanning through a list in my head, thinking who I might share it with. And I realised, with the exception of one friend who I’m pretty sure already reads this blog (hi Ange!), I know hardly anyone who I think might aspire to parenting this way and hence might find this useful… I’m pretty sure almost everyone I know is basically OK with ‘sexist’ parenting :-(

    So, keep up the good work of exposing SBJ’s friends to this way of thinking! If my friends are anything to go by, chances are they aren’t getting this stuff at home :-(
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  6. Kirstie Reply

    Thanks to a share on a Facebook group I am a member of, I got to read this awesome post… And like another Facebook page, yours! I also wanted to echo Lulastic’s comment: I completely agree with everything said! I am fairly new to being comfortable calling myself a feminist, despite being a female all my life it took having two boys and a TON of reading to get me there. This just makes it so much clearer. Thank you

  7. miriam Reply

    Great post TKR. I’m having issues with the autonomy-for-babies bit though. E HATES having her nappy changed but nappies are not optional in our house. She also does not have a choice about her weekly bloodtest (which she minds a lot less than nappy changes!) or taking her amino acid supplements. In these cases she is NOT in charge of her body.
    And on something completely different – do you have an e-copy pf PW’s 1st 15 you could flick me please? ? I can never find it when I need it!

    • thaliakr Reply

      Ach, yes, I sympathise with those limits to bodily autonomy :(

      A bit brain-fried just now but let me see if I can find some links.

      Sorry, I don’t have an e-copy (or one in Thailand!), and also PW changes it slightly every time he teaches it (sneaky!). But I suggest emailing him :)

  8. Mel Wiggins Reply

    THE MOST EPIC OF EPIC POSTS! Is safely bookmarked to come back to again and again! Always love your writing and gumption and passion Thalia – thanks for putting this together xo

    • thaliakr Reply

      Thanks for those kind words Mel! Right back atcha!

      (Actually just posted your ‘things to do for a new mother’ list to great acclaim on a group thread yesterday :) )

  9. Vicky Reply

    I believe you’re wrong in thinking you will decrease rape by teaching children they are in charge of their own bodies. Rape is not a crime of who’s in charge, but of rage.

    • thaliakr Reply

      Hi Vicky, thanks for your comment. I’m not an expert in this area, so I hope some others who are may chime in with thoughts.

      To clarify what I was meaning, I think the phrases about body autonomy are helpful partly because they help people to assert their own autonomy and make choices accordingly (so are hopefully less likely to tolerate unwanted touch, when they are in a position to say ‘no’) and partly so kids grow up being clear that they are not entitled to touch other people without consent.

      It seems to me, particularly in youth culture at the moment, that a lot of young men genuinely don’t realise that they are not entitled to do sexual things to people without consent.

      So I guess I’m thinking of a broad range of scenarios that might be changed for the better with this kind of language from an early age. I acknowledge that there are plenty of violent scenarios that will remain.

    • Lulastic Reply

      Hi Vicky
      The term “rape culture” has come to be used in order to identify that actually rape doesn’t happen arbitrarily or naturally as a result of rage (or whatever) but that there are societal conditions that lead to rape occurring far, far more. Otherwise rape would happen in similar incidence across populations – but it certainly doesn’t. Some societies have a serious rape problem, and others don’t.
      I do a little work for a child abuse charity here in NZ- which has quite a rape problem, particularly child abuse – one in three girls will be sexually abused by age 16. Across the sector it is recognised that things such as teaching body autonomy, teaching the right words for private parts etc are one part of a prevention strategy. They are also part of building a culture of consent, which is the only antidote to rape culture.

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  11. Chandler Reply

    Hi there! I have been a nanny for two years now, and am incredibly excited to use these with the little ones! Thank you so much for writing!

  12. Joh Skelton Reply

    ‘Little man’ phrase can disappear too as far as I’m concerned.

    Thanks for the post. Really great summary.

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