Monday, 22 February 2010

A Parenting Manifesto

Some of you might have read Tom Hodgkinson's' Idle Parent' column in the Daily Telegraph.  His parenting advice is of the very laid-back approach and his writing is certainly good for a laugh.  As Editor to The Idler magazine, Hodginson has gone on to write a few books, one of which is called The Idle Parent: Why Less Means More When Raising Kids. I haven't read the book but I did recently come across the website for the book.

Included on the site is the following parenting 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 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
An idle parent is a creative parent
We lie in bed for as long as possible
We try not to interfere
We play in the fields 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
More play, less work

I definitely don't agree with everything here but I do think there are some good statements and I've put those I agree with in grey text.  I like the idea of writing a manifesto for the kind of parent you want to be and think it's a nice way to consider what's important for you and your partner in bringing up your children. There are probably lots of things I could add to my own manifesto but here are a few thoughts:

  • We nurture family traditions

  • We seek adventure both close to home and afar

  • We share fun with friends and learn to play together

  • A happy child has happy parents

  • Most things can be replaced so we avoid upset over accidental breakages

  • We respect those around us and our natural environment

Whilst I might not be an 'idle parent' myself, I do share some of Tom Hodgkinson's values as expressed in his manifesto and find it a nice reminder of some of the significant and enjoyable aspects of being a parent. An emphasis on play, merriment and happy mess might not be practical all day, every day, but those after all are the things that children enjoy and that help towards a happy memorable childhood. It's useful to bring attention to those activities and attitudes that represent good parenting for you.

How much of the Idle Parent Manifest would you agree with? What would be on your own parenting manifesto?


Photo credit



  1. The Idle Parent has been on my to-read list for a while (when I take a break from blogging someday). I read Tom Hodgkinsons How to be Free last autumn and I think he's got the right idea. Its so hard to let go of the idea that parenting involves hard work because life can sometimes seem so complex. But all the kids really want is for us to just be there...

  2. You're absolutely right that it's difficult to not think that parenting is hard work! Like you say though, just being with our children is really important to them.

  3. Happy child has happy parents. The one thing I truly believe and try really hard to adhere to

  4. Hey good post! Being a good parent can be difficult!


Thank you for reading. I'd love to have your comments and thoughts!