Alternative Parenting and Gender Socialization: Caregiver-Driven Activism
If the gender socialization is of utmost importance, which it is, parenting styles and social tactics have a logical place in that discussion. First, identifying “alternative parenting” means differentiating it as a specific approach to child-rearing: from my perspective, alternative child-rearing sees many aspects of the dominant culture (often via the media, but also as reinforced by other adults in positions of authority) as too invasive, too wrapped up in conditioning “normalcy,” or, to put it quite simply, harmful. Alternative parenting insists that concentrating on a value system that is gender neutral, while keeping biological sex identity in a rational place, is not a radical idea, but rather a rejected one.
Furthermore, alternative parenting is multicultural: it respects and embraces difference as an essential part of human life. For the improvement of the culture, parents should seek out entertainment and education that are connective; that is, they form bridges between cultures and types of people, rather than burn them. This is not to say that parents whose work and attempts to survive keep them from being able to thoroughly examine possible influences on their childrens’ lives are parenting incorrectly or are, somehow, “less than” parents who have the time to devote to such research. Instead, this speaks to how necessary it is for parents to support one another, rather than alienate one another. Indeed, parents should be supported by the culture at large; media geared toward children should not work against parents in this respect. While it’s probably true that media/entertainment cannot be totally “value neutral,” these outlets should strain to avoid outright harm (which often comes in the forms of bias). As a parenting style, alternative parenting relies on community, closeness, trust, and the establishment of meaningful boundaries for children that have their basis in a rational discussion of dominant culture’s effects on children.