Can I Be a Stay-At-Home Mom and Raise Feminist Daughters?

I grew up in a pretty conservative environment. I was both homeschooled and a part of a Southern Baptist church. Like most girls I grew up with, I was raised with very specific ideas about being female. Women should stay home and care for the kids and house, while their husbands work. Feminism basically was, and still is, a dirty word.

Although I still practice my faith, and I even plan to homeschool my kids, I have definitely moved away from such conservative thinking. Once I started college, I left my church and began to explore my beliefs on faith and social issues without the fear created by the overbearing legalism of my conservative background. That freedom gave me the chance to embrace my identity as a feminist.

I kind of expected my life to look different than it does, honestly. I thought that, as a feminist, I’d be working outside of the home, waiting to have children until I was at least 30 or maybe I wouldn’t have kids at all. Of course, here I am at 27, a stay-at-home mom of three kids and no one has taken my feminist card away from me yet.

Since I wasn’t raised around feminists, it has become important to me that I raise my daughters to see themselves as equal, to know what opportunities are available to them and that being female should never hold them back. Lately, I’ve been wondering if I am doing my children a disservice by staying home with them. I’ve been wondering if it’s possible to be a stay-at-home mom and a feminist. If so, what does that look like?  

I freelance from home, but because I am home all of the time, I am basically your typical stay-at-home parent. I do most of the cooking and childcare. I clean the house. I work, but I rarely get a babysitter and they don’t go to daycare. I make a lot of sacrifices to be home as much as possible and to be the go-to person caring for my kids because it is what works best for our family, but it doesn’t always feel like the most feminist thing to do. Sometimes, I feel weird about how much I love domestic activities like cooking and baking, throwing parties or decorating my home. Is this what feminism looks like? I’m not really sure.

When I think back to my childhood, I wonder how exactly I ended up who I am now. It’s easiest for me to say I’m a feminist in spite of my upbringing, but I can honestly see that my mom did things differently than a lot of the families around us. While many of the moms around us were specifically training their girls to be housewives, she never put us in that box. She did stay home with us kids, but that was what she wanted to do and she never assumed us girls would be stay at home moms, too. We were encouraged to have dreams for our future, to get college degrees and to be in charge of our own bodies. My mom may have never called herself a feminist when we were kids, but I think it’s fair to give her that label. I think it’s also fair to say that the way she parented me taught me the being a strong and empowered woman looks very different from person to person.

I can see now that my view of feminism has been really black and white and immature. Being a stay-at-home mom does nothing to hinder who my kids become. When I realized this, I also realized that the best way for me to raise feminist daughters is to take a note from my mom’s parenting style. To teach my daughters that being a women is great and that they can do whatever that want to with their future, whether that is being at home like me or pursuing a career outside of the home. I want them to know, like my mom, I’m not missing out on a dream because I am home them, I am home with them because they are part of my dream.