Few roadmaps for radical fathering

Rad Dad is a thrice yearly zine on radical fathering put together by Tomas Moniz. If radical politics and living in ways that are critical of white-supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy are to be more than just a phase passed through by young people who have yet to burn out and buy in, then it is important to consider how radicals can collectively support each other throughout all seasons of life. Publications that specifically address the concerns of radical men who are raising kids are valuable because of the way that society often attributes nurturing parental relationships to women and mothers. Rad Dad offers a place for people of all genders to think about issues that effect radical parents and hear them articulated by men who are often trying to take a more active role in parenting than was expected of their fathers and grandfathers.

One of the things I like most about Rad Dad is the way that it expresses struggles and tensions rather than solutions. Tomas, who edits and generally contributes 2-3 pieces to the zine each issue, does not set himself up as an authority on radical parenting so much as to share, along with the other contributors, some of the struggles he has raising people in this messed up world. His pieces have dealt with pornography, drug use and how to watch his children navigate the racism and sexism of the system while giving them the space to make mistakes, or even just make choices that are different from the ones he would make. The other contributors bring in different voices of men raising kids; struggling to exist in a radical scene that is hostile to parents or a parenting scene that is hostile to radicals, questioning the conventional wisdom of punishments and rewards, and being a gay uncle/sperm donor or a dad who didn’t happen to donate sperm. Rad Dad also frequently includes lists of resources for radical parents, from message boards to children’s books.

The theme for issue 6 is anger and frustration. Tomas starts with a personal introduction about how he has been angry a lot lately and butting heads with his son; about acknowledging that anger but not letting it overwhelm all of the other things he is feeling. This is followed by selections from a message board of men dealing with frustration at toddlers to share stories and give each other support. Another writer, Chip writes about how he struggles with fears of becoming the ‘angry guy’ his father was as he interacts with his teenage daughter. Several other contributions follow and Tomas concludes with a piece about how his own father was often unable to communicate his love, but that learning from his father in retrospect and doing Rad Dad makes Tomas hopeful about his own efforts to show love to his children. There are no answers in Rad Dad, only the wisdom that comes from sharing struggles. Issue 6 also showcases another stunning letterpress printed cover by artnoose which substantially adds to the visual appeal of the zine.

I am not a parent and don’t see myself becoming one in the near future, however I do find it helpful to think about how I interact with children and friends who are parents. Most of us will become involved in a child’s life at some point either as a mom or dad, uncle or aunt, housemate or friend. It is easy for radical people, who are often socialized so badly, to interact with kids in messed up ways, especially if they haven’t reflected on the ways that their politics can inform their interactions with kids and parents. Writings and conversations about radical parenting consistently give me things to think about.