Family-Friendly Means Different Things For Different People

September 21st, 2007

Guest Slap

deBeauxOs, a mother and regular contributer over at BirthPangs, has written an excellent article about the hijacking of the phrase “Family-friendly” by special interest groups. As someone who often feels clubbed over the head with this phrase, I’m extremely pleased that deBeauxOs has agreed to share her post with us today. Her article is reproduced here in its entirety.

Family-friendly. Who would have ever thought that the juxtaposition of these two words could be so contentious? That an expression could encompass so many contradictary meanings. That it could be exclusively claimed by some and denied to others.

If you google “family-friendly,” you discover that the expression was coined by feminists who attempted to reconcile paid and unpaid work, to validate both women and men’s parenting roles and to secure employment conditions that are not discriminatory towards workers who have children. And as family responsibilities shifted, the notion also grew to include caring for ageing parents.

“Family-friendly” is often used by commercial establishments who are willing to accomodate the combined needs of adults and children as clients, when offering services and goods such as housing, travel, entertainment, home furnishings, convenience foods and dining.

Now it’s become a weapon appropriated by those who consider themselves to be in absolute possession of the right to attack any other definition of family that is unacceptable to their standards. And they also use it to shield themselves against criticism.

In case you were wondering who are these people, let’s refresh your memory.

According to them, DisneyLand™ and DisneyWorld™ are NOT family-friendly because same-sex spousal benefits are provided to their gay and lesbian employees.

Planned Parenthood is NOT family-friendly because it respects: women and men’s choice to forego breeding, women’s choice to limit the number of children they want to bear, and women’s choice to end an unwanted pregnancy.

For Better or For Worse is NOT family-friendly because its creator Lynn Johnston included a sympathetic gay character inspired by her brother-in-law, in her family-oriented comic strip.

Lawrence is gay

Moms who breast-feed in public places are NOT family-friendly because… because some people say so.

Affordable daycare is NOT family-friendly because such people don’t use it and won’t support it.

What they consider to be family-friendly on one of their websites though, are hateful screeds that incite violence against the sons and daughters of parents who love them very much exactly as they are. Gay men and lesbians have families too—mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons.

But I digress. At this feminist board, parenting discussions include advice about baby poo. There have been long, heartfelt and supportive threads about sometimes difficult pregnancies, by women who choose to give life, and those who support their decision. In the last year, five babies were born; many vicariously shared the joys of the new parents. This is what family-friendly looks like.

If you would like to hear more from deBeauxOs, head on over to Birth Pangs.