1000 Families Project:
Natasha & Family

This stay-at-home-mom is a feminist, and here’s how she balances her traditional role with her equality-seeking, shit-disturbing values.

I would bet you easy money that every parent out there started out as one version of themselves and has morphed into a completely different one over time. Or perhaps a few different ones. And undoubtedly, with every new iteration comes fresh anxieties over why/how/if we are doing the right thing for our families. This stuff is hard and we don’t have all the answers right away. I read a quote recently from a political journalist that said, “Cue the usual attacks because someone has dared to change his or her mind, as though evolution is a sin and ideological and spiritual stubbornness a virtue.” Now, he was of course talking about changing the way one votes or aligns themselves politically, but his words struck me as relevant to so very much in our world, including parenting.

Parenting, in my opinion, is a constant evolution of one’s ideological and spiritual being. And as The 1,000 Families Project is showing, the definition of family is evolving as well, even when it doesn’t look like it is.

Here is what my family looks like from the outside.

Professional husband, who works full-time and provides for our family. Stay-at- home mom who drives her kids to school, takes care of the household and does all the traditional housewife duties. Two kids, a boy and a girl, growing up in the nice little bubble that is upper middle class. A dog, two cars, and a yearly trip somewhere with a beach. We are literally the poster family for the so-called “million dollar family”.

Which may be why I get weird looks from people when I tell them I write a blog called the Stay at Home Feminist. I don’t fit the typical vision of what people think a feminist should look like, and raising a family with feminist ideals within a framework of the ‘traditional’ family can sometimes be a challenge. One that we work hard every day to accept and exceed.

A few years ago I read an article on feminist parenting and the first week of school. The message from this article was simple, rooted in deep feminist doctrine, and has stuck with me in all that we do.

Question Authority.

Question the “they say you should do {insert parenting tip/rule/advice here}” rhetoric. Question the social constructs and pressures that society places on parents to do all the “best” things for our kids, often at the expense of our own well-being. Question the authority of (patriarchal) tradition and doing something just because that’s the way it has always been done. Always question the narrative of the stories you hear and from whom you hear them. Questioning authority has become an integral part of my feminism, my parenting and our family life. I sometimes like to refer to all this questioning as critical thinking and I believe it is one of the most important life skills I will ever teach my children.

We live in a part of the country that is rather politically conservative, and a lot of what we hear is “that’s just how we do things in these parts.” In the last few years—pretty much since they started to read—my kids have become very interested in elections (we’ve had a municipal election, a provincial election and now a federal one all in the span of less than two years). They want to know who the politicians are and what their party stands for and want they will to do to help the people in our communities. They ask us a lot of questions about all the signs and flyers they see everywhere and want to know who we are voting for and why. And I tell them. I break down the parties’ platforms and past performance into easy to understand tidbits, and then I ask my kids who they would vote for. It’s amazing how simple things can get when you ask kids how they feel about issues like safe drinking water, saving our environment, helping the poor and people fleeing wars, and being fair to everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or race. They felt very strongly about all of these things, especially the idea that some people may not have access to safe drinking water. They just couldn’t understand that some places around the world don’t have clean water. It’s hard for them to come to terms with it. I told them that we are lucky in that we don’t have to drink dirty water as we have a water filter system in our home as well, so it makes sure that our water is extra clean and safe. People can read more here if they also want to have access to cleaner water to ensure that they stay healthy. It really is heartbreaking having to listen about their views on these areas; it may even teach adults a thing or two.

As a parent, sometimes this philosophy of questioning authority can backfire and I have to admit, I’ve said my share of “BECAUSE I SAID SO, THAT’S WHY!” over the years. But like the political reporter whom I spoke of earlier changing his tune this election, I too have had to question my own assumptions, traditional thoughts, and ingrained beliefs of what raising a family should look like. And I have stepped up and into my own evolution as a parent and as a feminist to make this thing called family work better for all of us.

This is #1000families post number 155. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.

Please follow and like us:

Natasha Chiam

About Natasha Chiam

Natasha Chiam writes about life, motherhood, feminism, and social justice at The Stay at Home Feminist.  She has been syndicated on Blogher and Bon Bon Break and she has been twice nominated for Best in Family and Parenting at the Edmonton New Media (#Yeggies) Awards. She has a strange addiction to rainbow socks, is an excessive selfie taker, and fancies herself a disturber of the status quo. You can find her on Twitter as @NatashaMChiam and Instagram as @StayatHomeFeminist. View all posts by