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Victoria Law & China Martens, Don’t leave your friends behind: concrete ways to support families in social justice movements and communities

PM Press, 2012; 256pp; £12.99
ImageSpontaneous and deeply demanding of intuition: such is childcare.

This collection of essays from various activists, offers experiences and advice about the ‘gendered and low value’ work that is childcare in social change movements. And, while not quite as inspiring as it promises, it nonetheless raises interesting and often uncomfortable questions about this hyper-political topic. Read selectively though, and skip the rants loaded with unhelpful neologisms (edukkkated, herstory, skolaz).

To pick the best bit of advice: ‘Do not assume anything; learn it from the ground up’. It’s also clear that parents want to be asked how they can be helped. All too often they are the victims of presumptuous (albeit well-meaning) offers of help.

Children shouldn’t be the holy cow (or cows!) of our movements though; kids can be disruptive and noting this doesn’t make me ‘crotchety’. Instead, we should talk openly about childcare and spread the workload.

And we also need to address dismissive attitudes towards children (‘well, you decided to have kids’): these are unrealistic, and stem from insecurity and fear, especially among men, who are sometimes understandably afraid of helping out amidst the general hysteria surrounding paedophilia.

Topics: Children