A recent project has had me thinking about the role of “mother” for a while now. After reading about Janet Jackson’s excitement as she awaits the arrival of her first baby it seems almost too coincidental that one of my favourite contemporary literaries, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, released fifteen essential steps to motherhood in “Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions.”

In this witty rhetoric about the expectations culture and society places on mothers, Adichie first and foremost reminds her reader (quite literally her friend Ijeawele, but more inclusively any of us reading her letter) to “always trust you instincts, above all else, because you will be guided by your love for for your child.”

Here are Adichie’s fifteen points. Of course to really get the sense of what she’s saying, you have to read her letter for yourself.

  1. Be a full person
  2. Do it together
  3. Teach her that ‘gender roles’ is absolute nonsense
  4. Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite
  5. Teach Chizalum to read
  6. Teach her to question language
  7. Never speak of marriage as an achievement
  8. Teach her to reject likability
  9. Give Chizalum a sense of identity
  10. Be deliberate about how you engage with her and her appearance
  11. Teach her to question our culture’s selective use of biology as ‘reasons’ for social norms
  12. Talk to her about sex and start early
  13. Romance will happen so be on board
  14. In teaching her about oppression, be careful not to turn the oppressed into saints
  15. Teach her about difference

We cannot stop reading this!! Mothers, what do you think?


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