Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson

The Idle Parent is a refreshing, funny, practical approach to parenting and boy do I wish I'd read this much sooner.  Rather than live with your stomach in knots trying to do the right thing and often failing miserably because of the impossibility of it all, author Tom Hodgkinson encourages us to relax.  All that worrying, obsessing, and helicoptering does not a happy childhood (or parenthood) make.

The guy is old school progressive.  I confess I'm guilty of a little (a lot) of hovering, but I have ambitions of having a free range kid.  As my son gets older, I'm getting much much better.  This book will be one that I come back to again and again for that reassurance and the reminder to lighten up.  It's also good for a laugh, Hodgkinson writes with a great sense of humor and he had me chuckling throughout the book.

Idle parents are, by default, eco friendly parents, eschewing plastic both figuratively and literally in favor of the more real, authentic, and closer to the earth.  Hodgkinson suggests walking or busing over driving, gardening, farming, and keeping waste and want to a minimum.

Turn off the TV, forget about all the lessons (apart from swimming), theme parks and expensive toys and get down on the floor and play with your kids.  Build forts with blankets, play in the fields.  He argues we have lost touch with nature and references old world themes like having reached the ideal of  a Bruegel type situation at a get together--kids playing at one end of the field while the adults chatted over beer at the other.  This is the stuff of life.  Not seclusion in front of screens and the "digital straightjacket of the internet."

There are some contradictions and the guy likes his drink,  butI don't think it's meant to be taken entirely literally.  Read it for amusement, comfort and some good old fashioned common sense.  Find it HERE.

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