Let Them Be Kids is a book by Jessica Smartt. Jessica wrote this book as a guidebook offering support to moms who are trying to navigate parenting in our day and age. This post contains affiliate links.
I first heard about this book from my friend Cherelle over at The Inspired Prairie. She gave a quick summary of this book a while back. The book definitely sounded like it was right up my alley. We have always kind of kicked against the “norm” in our parenting. Rejecting video games, social media, cell phones and sleep-overs for our kids hasn’t always made us the “fun parents,” however, with much prayer we have stuck to our guns and truly believe we have done our kids a favor by keeping them from those things.
An Overview of Let Them Be Kids
The tagline says, “Adventure, Boredom, Innocence and Other Gifts Children Need.” I love the way she has laid this out. There are ten different “gifts” that you can give your child. The book allows a chapter for each of them. She has written this as more of a collection of essays.
Here are the “gifts:”
- The Gift of Adventure
2. The Gift of Boredom
3. The Gift of Being Uncool
4. The Gift of Imagination
5. The Gift of Balance
6. The Gift of Grit
7. The Gift of Manners and Kindness
8. The Gift of Family
9. The Gift of Innocence
10. The Gift of Faith
The author does a great job of painting a picture of what each of these looks like practically. She includes stories and gives simple suggestions to help you to allow your children to have and benefit from each of these gifts.
This is not a ticket for passive parenting. It isn’t a, “Oh, let them be kids and destroy the house and run wild.” No, it is more of a let them be children, and I will be the adult. This is you protecting them from the things that they are not yet mature enough to handle. You are making the big decisions and having the final say. You, the parent, are guiding them and giving them freedom as you see fit. Always with their best interest in mind.
Years ago, my husband and I made the decision to be very intentional with our parenting. This means we made some decisions that probably weren’t very popular at the time. We chose to home birth, and home school and to really limit screen time and technology. Then when our oldest was about 9, my husband took a different job with a pay cut and we moved to a small town so that we could live in the country. We wanted to raise our children the “old fashioned way.” We wanted room for them to explore and run and be free. Hard work was also something that we not only desired for our children but something we set out to create for them.
We had a vision for children that were naturally inquisitive. Children that didn’t have to be told to go outside. We wanted our children to love to read and to find answers. Children that knew how good it felt to lie down in bed at night after a long day of physical work and play.
Why am I telling you this in the middle of a book review? Well, because I want to give you an honest review of the book, and I think you need to know where I am coming from.
Validation is Nice
Overall, the author gives good sound advice for how to raise your children as children. Meaning, they don’t run the show but stay in their role as the child, and you stay in your role as the parent. There wasn’t really anything in the book that I found revolutionary to my parenting. However, as the section above states, we had made the decision to live this way long ago. We have ten children, and our oldest is 18.
If you are a young parent, or if you are looking for guidance, by all means read this book! It will likely help you to develop your vision for your family. It is easy to read and very inspiring. Even though much of it was very similar to how we raise our children, validation is always nice. It’s fun to read a book and say, “hey we are doing that!” And know it is a valuable way to do things!!
Also, she doesn’t live in the country on a farm. I think this is so helpful for people who don’t either. She gives you great practical ways to encourage adventure and hard work in your children’s lives…even if you live on a cul-de-sac in the suburbs!
You Won’t Feel Hopeless
You know how you read some books and afterward you feel defeated? The realization hits that you have so much room for improvement, yet you can not for the life of you figure out how you can make so many changes? The author of this book does not make you feel that way at all. She is very transparent in the way that she describes her parenting, even sharing her flaws and shortcomings. She makes herself very relatable.
The book is also full of practical tips. She gives good real life examples. Many times reminding the reader that they are setting the example. If you and your husband are the only ones with phones, make sure your habits are ones that you would find acceptable in your children. If you don’t want them to spend hours on their phones when they are 16, or whenever you allow them to have one, then don’t spend hours on your phone!
Let Them Be Bored, Uncool, and Mannerly
I love that she addressed all of these issues. Boredom is a gift that inspires creativity. Being uncool or awkward is not something that we should put pressure on our kids to change. They will get enough pressure from their peers. Home should be their safe place. Parents should display unconditional love and acceptance.
Manners!! Does anyone really teach that anymore? We should! This was something I did many lessons on with my older children. This book has inspired me to make sure I am intentionally teaching manners to my younger kids as well. I need to stop hoping they will learn it all through osmosis!
A Great Book to Add to your Arsenal
I think that Let Them Be Kids is a great book to add to your collection. It is one that you could easily recommend to your friends as well. Our world needs more good parenting. I truly believe that so many of the problems that we see right now are a direct result of uninvolved parenting. Leaving children to themselves to sit in front of a screen may make life easier right now, but I think we all know that it certainly won’t pay off in the long run.
I hope you enjoyed this book review!