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The Idle Parent


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About the Author

Tom Hodgkinson is editor of The Idler and author of How To Be Idle and How To Be Free. He contributes a parenting column to the Daily Telegraph and writes for various newspapers and magazines. He lives on a farm in Devon with his family.


Daily Telegraph parenting columnist Hodgkinson, author of How to Be Idle and editor of The Idler magazine, argues for the primary parenting principle of "leave them alone" in this witty, welcome guide to raising happy, self-sufficient children. Beginning with a 21-point manifesto ("We try not to interfere"; "An idle parent is a thrifty parent"; "We reject the inner Puritan"; "We embrace responsibility"), and quoting extensively from such unlikely parenting authorities as Rousseau and D.H. Lawrence (the source of "leave the children alone"), the married father of three explores a range of child-rearing issues, from sleeping and mealtimes to whining, and repeatedly makes a convincing case for the power of letting children be. Citing damage done by overzealous parents, he's critical of television, the Wii, scheduled activities, all toys but the most basic ("simply pluck a branch from a tree"), and anything else-including school-that gets in the way of a child's imagination, sense of freedom, and independence. While his suggestions may seem disquieting, or put well-meaning parents on the defensive, they're grounded in a solid sense of reality, a sincere interest in fulfilling children and parents, and experience: "We wasted hundreds on absurd devices, like the thing that they sit in and use to walk around the room. No: they learn how to walk on their own." (May) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

British writer Hodgkinson (The Freedom Manifesto) believes the best way to raise children is to leave them alone (and pour yourself another cocktail while you're at it). Relying heavily on the classical works John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, his arguments, while often stated tongue-in-cheek, have no small amount of validity to them, such as "just as skipping work for adults is a way of clawing back some dignity we have lost through enslaving ourselves to the corporation, so naughtiness is the child's attempt to resist tyranny." He states that "overmothering results in simpering dependence on the part of the child" and that parents should strive to be idle to instill independence in their offspring. The British humor adds a great deal to this title; it is funny, erudite, and will stick with the reader long after the last page is read. Buy it and recommend it; put it on display and push it with readers, especially those fond of works like Skenazy's Free-Range Kids. Like children themselves, readers will thank you in the long run.-Julianne J. Smith Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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