Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Book Review: Let Them Be Kids

I have felt absolutely awful the last couple of days and I have no idea why. Yesterday I took a nap, today I fell asleep out of nowhere after my dentist appointment. Olivia even had to call her dad to come pick her up for work. Thankfully Jackson kept the little girls busy upstairs. Good news, the couch we bought on super clearance in March is actually comfortable to lay on so there's that. 
Let Them Be Kids - Jessica Smartt
As every parent hopes to raise kids with good manners and values, Jessica Smartt’s practical guide fills the gaps of uncertainty and provides tips on how parents can equip their children in purity, faith, and creativity.

Former English teacher and homeschooling mother of three, Jessica Smartt felt the weight of helping prepare her kids for life, especially with all the outside pressures and influence of the world. She struggled with how she could raise her children with a sense of adventure, self-confidence, manners, faith, and the ability to utilize technology wisely.

Let Them Be Kids is Jessica’s offering of grace and confidence to moms, giving them practical ideas to meet these challenges. Her well-researched, tested methods, woven together with her personal stories and witty humor, deliver wisdom on the tough topics of life, such as

family time vs. outside activities,
being “cool” or not,
technology usage
sexual purity, and
showing grace when kids disobey.
Part story and part guidebook, every chapter includes doable strategies and encouragement for the journey.

Let Them Be Kids helps moms feel confident and equipped with ways to provide a safe, healthy, Christ-centered childhood for their children. It leads them to conquer fear and find truth that transforms them and their families as it reminds them how to enjoy and cherish the special memory-making moments of building family values together.
I don't know if this book could have come out at a better time, right? We're in the middle of a pandemic and a lot of us moms weren't used to being with our kids 24/7. Maybe they are in school or activities, go to daycare or a play group, maybe we have a sitter that comes so we can go get coffee (alone!) an hour a week. Whatever relief you come to rely on is basically gone and we're having to maintain our sanity but also do something with them. 

I know a lot of parents rely on technology to keep their kids busy and, admittedly, I'm a halfer. The older kids listen to music or a show in the background while they do a puzzle or whatever, and the younger kids get to watch a show or play on their tablet. The nice thing is that with my cognitive issues, I really can't handle noise and things happening, so I don't like the TV on if I'm not actively watching it, but also I don't really like watching TV, so ours isn't on much at all during the day. 

It doesn't matter where you are in your parenting journey, the most dreaded thing to hear is, "Mom!! I'm bored....", am I right? 

I have to tell you that not only is this just a great book to help us get through this time, it is a really great parenting book in general. It does mention the author's faith and speaks of God in areas, but as someone who doesn't consider themselves religious in any way, it didn't bother me at all. I think my most favorite chapter was The Gift of Being Uncool because that is something I see so much of in not just me as a mom but almost every mom I know, we don't want our kid to be uncool. We want them to fit in. Jessica writes on page 79: 
"If you want to give your kids a real gift, give them the freedom to be awkward. Guard them from ridiculous expectations. Let them meander awkwardly into adulthood."
She goes on to three suggestions for doing that: realize your kids are not you, don't be afraid to go against the current, and speak love and like and confidence into your kids. I loved all of these so much. Matt and I are not the world's best parents, we definitely make mistakes every day, thankfully all four of our kids are turning out pretty alright so far. We aren't the parent getting them the latest and greatest of technology, do you think any of them are getting Airpods from us? NOPE. Jackson wants a pair of shoes that are well over $100 and totally ugly and I said he would have to save his own money for them. I could buy them for him but he doesn't need them. Last night he informed me he is half way there. Olivia is saving for her first car and we said we'd match what she could save (to a point) so she got herself a job at age 14. Now, part of me really, really wants to be the cool mom and get those things for my kids because I have friends who do it for their kids and I don't want to be seen as a mean mom. I don't want people to think we're poor. As I list out all of the reasons they all revolve around me, not my kids and not my friends. So I work on that. 

The other chapter I spent a lot of time on was The Gift of Balance that talks about sports and extra-curricular activities. Olivia is in dance, she dances a lot. Jackson does tennis only in the summer. Penelope and Lucy are just starting dance. I know I struggle a lot about this and I know many of my friends do as well. We all want out kids to do well and be recognized for it. We all want people to see how well our child(ren) is/are at whatever the sport is, but our worth as parents is not tied to that. We could be the worst parent ever but our kids might excel. We could be the best parent ever and our kids might just really stink at the sport. The author talks about saying no to some opportunities, and I loved it. Sometimes we say no to practice at ungodly hours of the morning. Or maybe we say no to anything during the week because they have school. Looking at it like what is the realistic goal of this and is it worth it? 

I need to also say I loved her part about failure and how it is better for a kid to fail than it is to win. A win feels good, for a moment, but a fail sticks with you. You learn more from a fail and failing can force you to gain skills winning can't give you, like perseverance. 

Overall, I really liked this book. It definitely isn't something to give to a new parent and tell them this is what you do. I think as we start parenting, this is a good guide, something to look at and think about when you're posed a question you don't know about. Maybe you're wrestling with a decision on how much sport is too much. Maybe you don't know where you stand on sleepovers, this book can give you another perspective that might really fit with you and your family's mission statement. 

Overall? I'd give this one a solid 4 stars. I definitely have some pages tabbed off to think about again and revisit, it is one I'll reference in the future for sure. A huge thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour, and also Thomas Nelson and Jessica Smartt for mailing a copy to me! 
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Unknown said...

I love your review, Sara! Balance is so hard to achieve, and I do think our feelings of worth as parents are tangled up in our kids successes/failures - not fair to the parents or the kids! Thank you so much for giving this book your attention! Very much appreciated.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

This sounds awesome. I don't have kids, but I do appreciate books like these that can help parents or those who are raising kids. It's tough to make the right decisions sometimes, I'm sure, but you do the best you can.