Tuesday, June 16, 2009

report back from the second annual celebrating parents reading

The other night, we had another wonderful “celebrating parents” event at Pegasus bookstore in downtown Berkeley, California. It was the second such event and we hope to have a third. I am hoping we get some musical acts! It was wonderful to be in a space where kids and parents and the accompanying noise and chaos were all welcome.

One of the things I shared at the last event was a list of ways fathers (and others) can fight patriarchy.

And since I love lists here’s another. A list of things parent allies can do to support the parents in their communities. Feel free to add more things and I’ll include the entire list in the next issue of rad dad…Here it is:

Concrete things you can do to support parents/or childcare givers and children in your community.

  • Give children attention; talk to them, not about them, in a regular voice.
  • Don’t get upset if they don’t want to talk to you when you do.
  • Develop a consistent relationship with the children in your life. Set up a weekly or monthly date with a child.
  • Speak up for childcare issues in all areas of what you do. Don’t let it fall to the parent to have to ask about childcare, or if it is a child friendly event.
  • In general, feel free to ask a parent or childcare giver if you can help out when you see them “multi-tasking” (code word for overwhelmed, freaking out, having a melt down), and of course be gracious if they say no thank you.
  • Smile at parents.
  • Remember parenting doesn’t equal mothering; ask fathers how they are feeling as well.
  • If you are throwing a party, hosting a meeting, planning a running street protest, announce that it is or is not a child friendly event. And if for some reason the event is not, make sure you are prepared to help parents stay involved: child care, classes for older kids.
  • Create a space for children in your home: have some books to read and a toy or two to share when some little one (or not so little) comes over.
  • Look at the world from child’s height
  • Know how to change a diaper
  • If you’re dating a parent offer to chip in on childcare costs while on a date
  • Call your own parents regularly: remember you were a child
  • Take the initiative to invite parents to events or to just hang out, even if they decline…parents often feel isolated.
  • Remember parenting doesn’t end with infancy; parents of older children need allies too.
  • And of course buy yourself and parents alternative books and zines about parenting…yes shameless plug

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