The Idle Parent: Laid Back or Lazy?

I came a cross a compelling title at the library not long ago:  The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kidsby Tom Hodgkinson.  I had to check it out.  Funny, there are some titles I’m simply not willing to believe.  Gourmet Meals in 3 Ingredients and 30 minutes! would never make it into my kitchen.  But promise me a little less work and a little more time on the couch in regards to the daily grind of parenting and you’ve got yourself a reader.

I initially thought I’d read the book, see if any of it was actually applicable to our lives, then review it for you.  A few chapters in, I realized that the book was so full of ideas that are contrary to how the masses (especially the American masses) parent today, one post wouldn’t be enough.

The book opens with The Idle Parent Manifesto.  It contains both glorious ideas and others that make me cringe.  Glorious and cringe-worthy side by side make for excellent discussion, so I thought instead I’d take each priniciple within the Idle Parent Manifesto and give it its own post.

The Idle Parent Manifesto

We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work.

We pledge to leave our children alone.

We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children’s lives from the moment they are born.

We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals.

We drink alcohol without guilt.

We reject the inner Puritan.

We don’t waste money on family days out and holidays.

An idle parent is a thrifty parent.

We lie in bed for as long as possible.

We try not to interfere.

We play in the field and forests.

We push them into the garden and shut the door so we can clean the house.

We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small.

Time is more important than money.

Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness.

Down with school.

We fill the house with music and merriment.

We reject health and safety guidelines.

We embrace responsibility.

There are many paths.

Which one makes you want to pump your fist in the air?  Which one horrifies you?  Hoo boy, this is going to be a fun series …



  1. Lisa Barry says:

    I like the one about the alcohol

  2. I’m loving “lie in bed as long as possible.” Works for me. But, I’m not loving rejecting safety and health guidelines. I’m all for letting my kids play in the dirt pile, etc, but I get so mad when I see children sitting in the front seat of a car or crawling around the back seat on the way to school! And, I guess with my medical background I can’t just outright “reject” health guidelines. I would restate it as “gather sceintific data and research and make an educated decision on following health guidelines.” 🙂

    • I’ve got a post rolling around in my head about how I’m so laid back about most things, but an absolute nut about car seat safety. We all have our non-negotiables, right?

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  4. I requested this book from our library and have just started reading it. I had Darius read the manifesto and he just chuckled and said “sounds like our life!”

    • We’ll have to talk about it at playgroup or book club … I’m interested to hear how others feel about his tone. I love so many of his ideas, but I think he can come off as kind of an arse (I can call him that since he’s British, right?) sometimes. So what’s your favorite part of his manifesto?