Thursday, May 6, 2021

James Breakwell - Bare Minimum Parenting

This isn’t a book about overachieving at parenting. This isn’t even a book about achieving exactly the right amount. This is a book about doing as little as possible without quite ruining your child. Overachieving parents want you to believe the harder you work, the better your kid will turn out. That lie ends now. The truth is most kids end up remarkably unremarkable no matter what you do, so you might as well achieve mediocrity by the easiest possible route. The goal of “bare minimum parenting” is to turn your child into a functional adult with only a fraction of the effort spent by super moms and dads. If you do it right, your kid will be no better or worse off than their kids, but with more free time left for you. That's more valuable than all the participation trophies in the world. In Bare Minimum Parenting, amateur parenting expert James Breakwell will teach you to stop worrying and embrace your child's destiny as devastatingly average. To get there, you'll have to overcome your kid, other parents, and yourself, all of whom will push you to do more than is absolutely necessary. Honestly, by reading this far, you’re already trying too hard. But don't stop now. You're exactly the kind of person who needs this book.

Comment: I got this book at the library. The Portuguese cover is catchy and cute and there's a sentence saying the author "is the funniest father on twitter". Honestly, I had never heard the author's name before and not having twitter, it really wasn't on my radar at all. Still, I imagined this would be a comedy of examples on how to do the least amount possible and still be a parent for your child.

In fact, this is how the author presents the book. A sort of set of tactics on how to behave so that someone can still be a parent but not doing too little or too much, just the necessary. The whole book is divided into themes, from school to sports, among other things, and how parents should do the least possible so that they wouldn't have much work but also so they wouldn't influence their children in negative ways.

I can see how the author thought about this book, its structure I mean, and how to give advice in a funny way. There are countless graphics and columns with pointless information which is supposed to be a comedy, especially if the reader has children and can see the amusing factor. However, despite not being a parent myself, I still believe the goal was not quite well achieved. What does it matter how the author says something is what he says isn't relevant? I think the joke or the fun side of this would only be accomplished if the information given would still be something people could relate to. For me, though, it felt as if the author relied so much on clichés and pre conceived ideas, and the fun was not a factor at all.

Portuguese cover
It's true some of the things in the book are commonplace so some situations described can give parents a chuckle and one or two chapters do seem insightful on how the behavior of parents often has an impact on their children and how they face the world. Some ideas do make sense, yes, but the way this is presented, as a big joke, just didn't convince me, even though  I knew from the start that the goal with the comedy tone was precisely that.

Another thing I felt would be here and wasn't were personal examples. The author has four children but apparently, they are all young, under ten if I read correctly, so of course he couldn't give real examples of situations which will happen as they get older, unless he thought about other people. It was a little disappointing, since the reference to "the funniest father on twitter" made me immediately think of what kind of adventures/shenanigans he would be in with his daughters.

In a way, I can see the appeal of this book, there's almost a hidden moral message under all the unimportant parts and the attempted jokes. If one thinks about it, some things can be made so because they happen in real life and perhaps some parents shouldn't take being parents as something so rigid or so strict that they can't simply enjoy their children's personalities or the journey of living along side them. However, the interesting elements get lost among so much weaker content and not even knowing the author's goal was to write something fun and ironic changed my mind.
Grade: 4/10

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