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The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids

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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  681 ratings  ·  152 reviews
This wise and funny book presents a revolutionary yet highly practical approach to childcare: leave them alone.

"The Idle Parent came as a huge relief to the whole family. Suddenly, it was okay to leave the kids to sort it out among themselves. Suddenly, it was okay to be responsibly lazy. This is the most counterintuitive but most helpful and consoling child-raising man
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Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 13th 2010 by Tarcher (first published 2009)
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Karen
Jun 24, 2009 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone. Especially proudly hardworking people.
I'm giving this 5 stars, not because it is some groundbreaking work of genius, but because I think everyone should read it. It isn't just about parenting; it is generally about breaking out of our Puritan ideals of what life should be like. I enjoyed this because it gave me a sense of validation about my own world view and how I live; others might think this is the worst book ever.

Every time my mother snarks at me about my life being so "easy", as if it is some badge of honor to have made yours
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Melissa
Initially, I thought to myself, I am going to totally agree with this author. After all, I'm a huge "unhurried child" fan and advocate. I loved the chapter title, Bring Back Child Labor. Funny!

Then, I started reading.

What I couldn't understand is why the author is so fixated with drinking! Hodgkinson continually brings up drinking with good parenting - drink more, give baths tipsy, and on and on. It's almost pushy and it got very weird. Is it okay if parents don't drink? I would say, not for him
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Joel
Apr 22, 2011 Joel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Expectant Parents
Recommended to Joel by: Mother
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan Richter

Tom Hodkinson – Leitfaden für Faule Eltern



Nach der Lektüre hin und her gerissen. Neben klugem Wachrütteln und Hinweisen fürs Wesentliche steht irre anmutender Schrott. Das Schema ist ungefähr folgendes: Ein guter Ratschlag zu einem Perspektivwechsel wird so ins Extreme gedrückt, dass er fast seinen Sinn verliert. Es ist, als müsse man sich nicht die Rosinen aus einem Kuchen holen, sondern aus versalzener Blutwurst.

Eine Besprechung wäre fast zu zermürbend. Der Einfachheit halber stelle ich die Pu

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Tanya W
Great Book!. I'm certain the application of some of the things I'm learning can add to my daily happiness as a parent. This is very well written and easy to read and quite often funny. Tom Hodgkinson draws much of this wisdom from the writing of John Locke (Some Thoughts Concerning Education) and Jacques Rousseau (Emile).

The notes below are for my benefit.. the things that apply to me... quotes, thoughts, and I guess you could say "spoilers".

They're happy because we're happy... Do not suffer.
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Jarkko Laine
You don't have to agree with everything in a book for the book to be amazing. In fact, often, the best books are ones that present a mix of strengthening your values by describing them in a clear way and new ideas that force you to question your ways.

Tom Hodgkinson's The Idle Parent does just that -- and after finishing the book, I can't help but love the concept of idle parenting. No, it's not because I want my kids to bring me breakfast to bed, and I'm not even that much into drinking alcohol
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RH Walters
An anti-materialist, back-to-nature and the-couch, DIY, pro-sleep, guilt-free guide to enjoying life with kids. Hodgkinson can be evangelical and hypocritical (e.g., nannies), but he freely admits his mistakes and contradictions, and promotes the feeling that mistakes and chaos are okay. Reading other reviews I see that he turns some people off with his lusty endorsement of alcohol and sweets, and admittedly that's part of his charm for me. Lots of good things to quote, but I choose this:
"What w
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Robyn
I really wanted to like this book. I loved the premise - encourage your kids to be more independent, don't overschedule them, make life more enjoyable for them and for you... But most of the suggestions in this book were so unrealistic that reading it began to feel like a waste of time. Many families have two working parents. Most don't live on farms, or start their own local schools in order to encourage a form of "anarchy." And though many of us enjoy a good drink, we don't plan our days aroun ...more
Kstangl
How lovely to read a book that actually makes you feel like you are doing the right thing by leaving your kids to their own devices and lounging on the sofa to read. With Blackhawk parenting run amok, it is a relief to have found a champion for a more hands-off school of parenting. Hodgkinson does offer an interesting examination of how such parenting is ultimately linked to the corporate capitalism. And how many contemporary parenting books quote Locke, Rousseau and DH Lawrence at length? Howev ...more
Jenny
How nice to be given permission to chill out a little as a parent. We are conditioned to believe that if we are not providing non-stop activities and entertainment for our kids (and loving it) we are failing as parents. But I agree that it's good for kids to be bored sometimes; then they invent their own games. You don't have to be their 24/7 playmate.

I was nodding at all the basic premises of the book: leave your kids alone more so they can exercise their own creativity, work together at home,
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Lisa
Feb 01, 2013 Lisa rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in unorthodox parenting
Tom Hodgkinson has written 2 other books, The Freedom Manifesto and How to be Idle. I have read neither of these books, but I have read The Idle Parent and listened to Hodgkinson on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4I5XI...).

After the writing 2 books, Hodgkinson came to the realization that he better write another book. He took inventory: he enjoys humor and entertaining others; and as a writer, he has many responsibilities dealing with his children that he would like to avoid. He likes
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Danine
It turns out I'm already an idle parent according to Hodgkinson. This book is pretty much common sense. I agreed with some of his perspectives and was like WTF are you thinking on other perspectives. A typical parent book read. I thought it was great how he advocated the rejection of commercialized products. I did not like his perspective on schooling which was anarchistic. He preferred homeschool. I am not against homeschool, but I there are a lot of great teachers out there who must conform to ...more
Jennifer
Maybe 2 stars is too harsh, but I hated to give it 3. I found that the entire time I was reading the book I was making a mental tally in my head of Things I'd Say Amen To versus Things That are Absolutely Ridiculous. The book is not very well researched, other than the author dusting off a few old philosophers' work. There just aren't many facts behind his claims. Much of the book seemed contradictory to me: He lauds laying on the couch with a beer and leaving the kids alone to find things to do ...more
Laura
There was some really good info in this book, but it was hard finding it between all the unrealistic scenarios of parenting for the average parent -like living on a farm and letting your child spend most of their time adventuring in the woods while learning about life, instead of in sitting in a classroom all day. Or living with more family to split the kid raising responsibilities. Yeah, just not gonna happen. Another bothersome habit of the writer was how frequently he talks about how if you d ...more
Jonathan-David Jackson
As told in the excellent movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, among the San people of the Kalarahi desert, "nobody would dream of disciplining a child, or even speaking harshly to it". In a natural setting, there's simply no need for parenting as we know it. Our complex modern society has removed us from nature so far that 'parent' must be a full time occupation. That's not what this book says, of course, just my opinion - I'll expand on it in a future blog post, so if you're into that kind of thing th ...more
Knut Wimberger
Some people don't seem to understand the humorist in Tom Hodgkinson and feel irritated because he e.g. writes that tipsy mothers sitting around a bonfire are great mothers. Those people miss his main message, which contains a universal truth for mankind: loneliness creates sadness.

Loneliness seems to be a paradox to family life, but the modern nuclear family often creates for parents the experience of overwhelming loneliness and a sense of ineptitude to rear one's offspring. I talk out of exper
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Sarah
Okay, I confess. I read only half of this book. I fall into the same group as many other reviewers--I both liked and disliked this book.

I loved the premise of the book: let your kids be kids. Let them play in unstructured environments, let them run around outside, turn off the TV, expect them to contribute to the household (in appropriate ways), rely on/support other family members and friends to share the big task of raising kids, etc.

But, I also often found his lofty applications of his phil
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Lyn
At first I wondered where this book would go - it sets out in a blokey kind of way extolling the merits of "lie-on-the-couch-and-do-nothing" parenting; but every now and then a gem would be dropped in that kept me reading, so perhaps it was a gimmick to reel in the readers!
Because this book is really a hymn to a simple sort of family life - one where the members make their own entertainment, shut off or get rid of the screens, keep animals, sing, dance, play, garden, cook and read together.
It i
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Penny
First off, read the book to the end. I think many of the previous reviews by people who couldn't bring themselves to finish the book may have changed their minds if they could power through a little longer.

In the early chapters, this book sounds pretty ridiculous. The author appears to be condoning honest laziness. He gives the impression that his take on parenting is literally kicking your feet up and doing nothing for your kids. When you get a little further in, the truth is revealed. The auth
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Jennifer
Frankly, going by his definition, I well out-Idle Tom Hodgkinson, editor of The Idler magazine, as a parent, taken over the whole of my children's lifetimes - no well-thumbed and then renounced "Contented Little Baby"s for me. I have the 'luxury' of having it forced upon me. His description of nightly bath and enforcing an hour a day limit on computer time sound way too much like hard work to me.

He has obviously followed his own dictum and not worked too hard in writing this book. There are many
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Polly
I found myself agreeing with a lot of the author's ideas, and why wouldn't anyone? This is a great child-rearing manifesto, encouraging you to leave the kids alone so they learn to become more resourceful and ultimately amuse themselves, leaving you more time to sleep and/or drink beer. Does seem more possible if you, like the author can make a living by writing an live on a farm in the countryside but there is still plently to take from it even if this is not your set-up.
Pete
Jan 06, 2015 Pete rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: humour
The Idle Parent (2009) by Tom Hodgkinson is an amusing take on being a parent that espouses being relaxed and avoiding being obsessed by material things and expensive trips.

Hodgkinson is a prodigy of work and intelligence who went to Westminster School and Cambridge. He then went on to be joint head of creative development at The Guardian. After that and a number of successful books he founded 'The Idler' magazine and the 'Idler Academy'.
He recommends people should work less. It's not clear if
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Kevin
The guy may be a bit extreme in his principles but a lot of what he says actually makes sense. On the one hand, and with a nostalgic frame of mind, we tend to think back of our own childhood as being more free, happier, less focused on consuming and like to think that we came out the better from it. On the other hand, we live in different ages and the "in the old days things were better" adagio isn't really something I can strongely relate to.

Yes, not pampering kids too much is a good thing.
Yes
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Skylar Burris
Mar 13, 2015 Skylar Burris marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
Based on the free sample, I think this book is going to confirm me in my own personal parenting philosophy, and so I look forward to reading the rest of it one day. I need printed justifcation for my laziness as a parent. I do get the idea that his little-thought-out anti-capitalism is going to start annoying me further into the book, however. Okay, it's already annoying me 20 pages in. But I think I'll be reading this one anyway.
Richard
I picked this book up when I was still a new parent, and having enjoyed 'The Idler' by the same author. I had started reading it previously, but had stalled. Time to read it properly!

The previous book really appealed to me. The thesis was largely that you should enjoy what you do, and choose a life that maximised your enjoyment and minimised toil and grief. This book is an attempt to extend the thesis to the process and activity of being a parent. And in the process I ended up not buying in to t
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Emel
I'm not going to finish this one. I do like the premise: promote independence in young kids, resist the fashion of being a slave to parenting etc., don't bother with expensive after school clubs when they're just as happy learning to chop veg and fold washing, and in that respect the author didn't tell me anything I didn't already know and practice.
In the early chapters I enjoyed seeing my own parenting philosophy in print. I have at times witnessed such extreme tiger mum / helicopter parenting
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Jo Hoornaert
zeker lezen als je nog kleine kinderen hebt. (ik las dit enkel jaren geleden: devies: 'leave them alone' & laat ze ook beetje helpen & zo. Zij doen niet liever, & jij liever niet.
Amy
Here is someone else recommending my exact approach to parenting. Of course I loved it.
Jamie La Salla
Interesting read.
Paul Fleckney
(Note: I read the 2010 Penguin edition, not the edition shown here)

This is a highly entertaining read. I got through it in two sittings and there is much to love and raise a smirk at in between some genuine pearls of parenting wisdom that you won't find in a parenting manual or newspaper column. I like and subscribe to much of Hodgkinson's philosophy (this is essentially a philosophical book not a parenting book), I enjoyed How to be Free and this book covers much of the same ground albeit with
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Tom Hodgkinson (b. 1968) is a British writer and the editor of The Idler, which he established in 1993 with his friend Gavin Pretor-Pinney. He was educated at Westminster School. He has contributed articles to The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian and The Sunday Times as well as being the author of The Idler spin-off How To Be Idle (2005), How To Be Free (released in the U.S. under the title The Free ...more
More about Tom Hodgkinson...
How to Be Idle The Freedom Manifesto The Book of Idle Pleasures Brave Old World: A Practical Guide To Husbandry Or The Fine Art Of Looking After The Idler 42: Smash the System

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