Being a progressive mom means a number of things. It means making choices that take into account things like gender and race, class and ability. It means doing your best to raise a feminist child (or children) and making sure your little one understands everything from privilege to activism to social justice. Then, when you’re a parent in a relationship, it also means approaching your partnership in a way that recognizes old patriarchal standards and facilitating open conversations about what you want rather than what’s “expected” of you as both parents and partners. It also means that there are certain things progressive moms simply won’t say to their partners. Things that might be hurtful or reinforcing stereotypes 0r going against the aforementioned principles ever progressive parent believes in.
I know that one reason my own marriage works is because we don’t pigeonhole ourselves into following certain “roles” as husband and wife. Both of us watch our son frequently. We both feed him and bathe him and play with him. My husband never makes me feel anything other than encouraged when it comes to my work. He’s never demanded a home-cooked meal or expected me to iron his shirts (maybe because he knows I’d laugh and laugh, but also because he doesn’t care about those things and doesn't cater to ridiculously sexist and gendered stereotypes).
Of course, because we are progressive parents we also believe that the road does, in fact, go both ways. Just like there are certain things he should never say or expect of me, I know there are many things that, as a progressive, I wouldn’t say to him, either.
"You Have No Say In This (Because Of Your Gender)"
Both parents have the right to raise their child, and completely excluding one parent out of an important moment or decision, especially due to their gender, is wrong. While yes, there are some moments where perhaps a child might feel more comfortable with only one specific parent (for e.g., a young teen menstruating for the first time might want to speak with whichever parent or parents also menstruate and make them feel the most comfortable discussing it), that doesn’t mean both parents shouldn’t get to voice opinions (like deciding which tub of ice cream to bring home to the teen going through their first period. Hint: both.).
"That’s Not How I Do It"
Progressive moms, just like all moms, need to understand that the way they want to parent their child might not mimic the exact way their partner wants to parent their child. Hey, that’s totally fine, so long as the child isn’t being harmed in any way, both parents should be able to have a say in how they do things for their kid, without being shamed for it.
"That’s Your Job (Because Of Your Gender)"
Gendered work is so passé. While division of labor exists in all households, feminist parents can agree to not pass off certain tasks to the other partner due to preconceived notions of which gender should do which jobs. My husband and I both take out the trash, we both cook (though he cooks more), we both do laundry (though I wash more) and, well, you get the idea.
"Our Child Loves Me More"
This is also a general parent rule, but you don’t tell your partner that your kid loves you more. That’s just plain mean. Plus, it’s more than likely untrue in most situations and, if anything, manipulative at freakin' best.
"Did You Remember To Feed/Bathe The Kid(s)?"
Feminist parents try not to belittle their partner’s abilities by not continuously asking if they remembered to do certain tasks. No one likes being asked if they’ve done things that they very obviously should have done, and which they always do. Bite your tongue on this one, and trust your partner.
"Because I Said So, That’s Why"
Feminist moms don’t say this to their kids, so why would they say it to their partners? Lording over people isn’t what feminism is about. Instead, we try to rationalize with all, facilitate and engage in open and honest dialogue, and to try to reach agreements.
"Do You Mind Babysitting Tonight?"
Your partner(s) don’t babysit their own kids. They watch their kids. They raise their kids. They are an important part of their kids' lives, not part-time workers that get minimum wage for a few hours of supervision. Many fathers, especially, note that they also don’t enjoy when people say they’re sitting for their own kids, because it makes them feel like less of a parent. Let's just avoid this one, shall we?
"Just Be Careful"
This statement basically tells the other person you don’t trust their judgement or their ability to be safe and/or keep your child safe. While I understand the gut reaction to remind folks to be careful, it is said way too often. Let’s try to keep cool, moms.
"Well, They Certainly Didn’t Get That From Me"
In other rude things parents shouldn’t say to their partners, I present this "classic" and, honestly, even when it's said as a joke it can be disrespectful to the other parent. It basically makes the argument that any negative traits the child has, are only because of one parents and not the other. It can teach your kid to hate certain aspects of themselves, because you don't appreciate them in your parent, or that specific child. But let’s face it, most kids are a mix of all who raise them. They get it from everyone.
"You’re Just Like The Damn Toddler"
How would you feel if your partner compared you to your tantrum-throwing three year old? Less than thrilled, maybe? Keep that in mind the next time you want to compare your significant other to your shrieking, crying, kicking kid.
"Do I Have To Do Everything For Both Of You?"
Sigh. It can often feel like we’re doing everything in the household: cooking, cleaning, making appointments, driving to activities, setting up playdates, buying groceries, you name it. However, when you look back, did you really do everything for the entire family? Or can you find things your partner did, too? Chances are (and I'm hoping, since you're both progressive parents) your jobs are just divided differently and the hustle and bustle of the day can make it easy to overlook what your partner has done. However, if you realize that you are, in fact, doing more? Well, feminist mom, you can always talk to your partner about it.