Someday I want to have kids, but, frankly, they sound like a lot of hard work. A recent trip to Disneyland contributed to my anxiety. It might be “The Happiest Place on Earth” to some people, but I don’t think it was for the many, many parents I saw chasing toddlers, chastising errant tweens, and throwing their hands up at tantrums. I didn’t spend my time telling a kid “No!” ad nauseam throughout fifteen hundred giftshops, and I still didn’t enjoy Disneyland.
So, when I saw a review for The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids by Tom Hodgkinson, I thought, “Be lazy and produce better kids? I’m there!” For a preview, read Hodgkinson’s Slate article. Hodgkinson, the creator of The Idler and the author of How to Be Idle, maintains that by overprotecting and overscheduling children (which takes a lot of time and energy), parents turn their kids into needy, incompetent adults, while simultaneously driving themselves crazy. He admonishes parents, “Do not become a slave to your children! You will become resentful, and they will hate you for it.” He maintains that idle parents, who make their children work, let them play unfettered, and eschew organized sports, will have kids who are “strong, bold, fearless, much in demand wherever they go! Capable, cheerful, happy.”
He also argues vehemently against theme parks of all kinds.
What Do You Think?
I am still going back and forth over whether this radical idea--that being a parent shouldn’t take over your entire life--is genius or folly, practical or a fancy. What do you think?
Nicole Pasini has worked on library programs and collections for teens, children, and adults, and spent her childhood intensely lobbying to be allowed to ride her bike around the entire block.