Don’t forget parents

Making radical spaces and communities as inclusive as possible is an ongoing project that can take many forms. Here are some tips on making it easier for people who become parents to stay involved, or to at least stay in touch with their non-parent friends:

1. If you want to see your parent friend, offer to meet them at a playground, not at a cafe. Make some coffee and bring it to the playground. Parents spend endless hours at playgrounds with their kids, mostly alone or with other parents. You might think your new parent friend is too busy to see you, but they have plenty of time so long as you meet them halfway.

2. You can start your dinner, party or meeting at 6 pm not 8 pm. Parents hear an 8 pm start time as “I’m not invited” because many have to do kid-bedtime around then.

3. You can offer to go to a parent’s house rather than making them come to you. You may have less stuff to pack up and less transportation issues. Just because you visit a parent at their house doesn’t mean they are expecting you to take care of their kids. Parents like having adult interactions even when it is harder to get out.

4. If you’re serving food, make sure there’s something the kids will eat. It’s best to ask the parents what the kiddo is eating that week (it tends to change often).

5. You can make the extra effort to provide reliable childcare at bookfairs, meetings and events. The key is making it reliable so parents can trust the childcare — it starts on-time, the kids don’t escape. Childcare is skilled hard work not an afterthought, so it helps if you have toys, art supplies, games and a safe and clean space.

6. Protests can have a parent / kids bloc to make it more fun and inclusive. If there isn’t one, parents may find it easier to go to a march if non-parent friends come along.

7. It is okay to be more interested in hanging out with your parent friend than their kid. It is okay if you would prefer to talk about something other than diapers, naps and birthday parties. It might even help the quality of conversation to say so right up front. Your parent friend is unlikely to be offended if you don’t relate to kids, don’t want to have a kid yourself, or find kids and parenting boring. The parent knows better than you that sometimes kids and parenting are fucking boring.

8. On the other hand, kids and parenting have something to teach us about the human condition. If you’re not going to be a parent, you can still hang out with friends’ kids from time to time. Kids needs lots of adults in their lives to listen to, inspire and love them, not just biological or adoptive parents. Kids also have the same needs for respectful attention as big people.