It’s OK Not To Share, and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids (a review) 

The parenting books I’ve been reading for this parenting book club have been helping me to feel more chilled out about parenting Avery. It could have gone the other way – information overload could have led to heightened anxiety. I think we must be choosing good books as a group of hippy parents. And by good, I of course mean books that align with our pre-existing beliefs…

My first impression of this book was that it covered a lot of the same stuff as a book I previously reviewed, How to Talk so Kids will Listen. It’s written from the same positive, empowering parenting perspective with the idea that kids need to be listened to, respected, and understood. It’s OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids teaches parents through examples how to set reasonable behavioural limits for your children without limiting their developmental opportunities.

It’s OK Not To Share bases pretty much all of its parenting lessons on the idea that we need to give kids more freedom. In the words of Miss Frizzle (of Magic School Bus fame), let them take chances, make mistakes, and get messy. It focuses a lot on free play (i.e., let them play how they want, when they want, and with whom they want) and values play above early ‘academics’. I found myself pondering this the last time I tried teaching Avery her primary colours. Why I am trying to push structured learning on a baby? Memorization learning, no less! I don’t even like the idea of memorization learning in higher education. Since reading the book I’m trying to protect Avery’s play more, which mostly means I sit there and watch her play with whatever she finds (toys, pots and pans, the cats) and don’t try to butt in and show her how to play. It’s lazy parenting 101.

While the basis for this book is pretty harmless (let them play), it also covers some pretty controversial topics such as not stifling aggression and, well, not sharing. Tough for the pacifist parent to swallow, It’s OK Not to Share also asserts that rough housing is OK. There was some disagreement with this advice during our book club meeting, with some parents not wanting to encourage or enable aggressive behaviour. I think this is ultimately going to be one of those parenting decisions that depends on the kid you are parenting. As with any parenting resource out there, take what you want, and leave the rest.

Overall, this book was easy to read (but long…), and I enjoyed allowing my own parenting beliefs to be pushed outside the box a little with these “renegade” suggestions. It’s full of controversy and definitely a fun read for a parenting book club. It generated lots of discussion. However, it’s not at the top of my list of parenting book recommendations. I think that the important stuff about listening to your kid’s needs and supporting all emotions was better taught in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen. And although I missed the book club meeting where they read and discussed The Soul of Discipline, the other parents in our group felt that it covered discipline vs. autonomy better than It’s OK Not To Share. 

If you decide you want to check it out regardless of my so-so review, I’ve included an affiliate link above.

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