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It's OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids Paperback – August 2, 2012
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"Rarely do parenting books trigger in me an exhale. But the title alone for Heather Shumaker’s new book came like that rare August breeze."
–The Washington Post "On Parenting"
"An insightful, sensible and compassionate book full of downright revolutionary ideas."
"Brilliant. . . . It's OK Not to Share is an enlightening book that will make you take a second look at everything you believe."
"Did you read the title and think, what the heck? Me, too. Not only did I read it to figure out the title, I underlined about a third–it's that good."
–Melissa Taylor, ImaginationSoup.net
"What an amazing book! [Shumaker] challenge[s] the parenting myths and fallacies that our society has embraced for so long."
–Provider Resource Organization
"A breath of fresh air."
–Jane Pratt, founder of xoJane.com
"These 'renegade rules' will resonate with what you know to be true, speak to what you want most for your children, and teach you how to achieve it. Don't let this one slip off your reading list."
–Dr. Becky Bailey, author of Conscious Discipline and Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline
"This beautifully written book. . . provides immediate, sanity-saving answers to tough parenting questions. I highly recommend it."
–Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys and The Good Son
"From 'Bombs, Guns, and Bad Guys Allowed' to '"I Hate You!" Is Nothing Personal,' the table of contents alone is music to my ears. Heather Shumaker is a healthy mom I can relate to–and I'll bet you will too, when you hear out her logic."
–Paula Spencer Scott, author of Momfidence!
"A refreshing change from the usual admonitions. . . Shumaker's Renegade Rules are based on what children really need."
–Lawrence J. Cohen, author of Playful Parenting
"Shumaker beautifully shows us why letting kids be kids may be the single most important thing we can do as parents."
–Anthony T. DeBenedet, M.D. coauthor of The Art of Roughhousing
"A must-read for parents and teachers. This is a book you will want with you all the time."
–Daniel Hodgins, author of Boys: Changing the Classroom, Not the Child
"A no-nonsense commonsense appraoch. . . As you read this book, you will begin to feel the stress of parenting melt away."
–Vivian Kirkfield, PositiveParentalParticipation.com
About the Author
Heather Shumaker is a journalist whose writing has appeared in Parenting, Pregnancy, Organic Gardening, and other publications. A frequent speaker on parenting topics and an advocate for free, unstructured play in homes and schools, she has a special passion for nonprofits; before turning to writing full-time, she worked for The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, and many others. She holds an MS degree from the Institute for Environmental Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a BA from Swarthmore College. Heather makes her home in northern Michigan, with her husband, three chickens, and two children.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Before talking more about how the book undermines itself, let me say what I did love about the book: all the rules put PLAY as THE central value. I'm a big advocate for play in the elementary years (we unschool, and my kids play all day long). However, in our life-style there is another value that guides our play. It's call KINDNESS. We act in ways that are kind and respectful to others, taking into account how individual actions impact others. In my house, you cannot say you cannot play (check out that book). Otherwise, you will create bullies and uncaring, uncompassionate citizens of the world. It's one thing to prevent conflict with young toddlers and preschoolers by not forcing them to share. But it's another to let kids behave selfishly and to not teach them to take the feelings of others into account. For me, dialogue and creating rules that work for everyone in a democratic classroom is a much better approach than these renegade rules. These rules are violent towards others, or can be, and as anyone who is reflective understands, exclusion creates pain and empty buckets create violence. In short, her rules don't take both sides into account in solving common conflict problem situations with very young children and indirectly support and encourage the very type of childhood suffering that leads to violence.
More problematic is that if you apply these rules with older kids, you create bullies. You create non-compassionate, egotistical kids that think exclusion is OK. Exclusion is a simple way to deal with difference. Our world has enough violence due to the "we" vs the "other" approach to things. Instead, we need to find common terms and bridge our differences. We should encourage our children to work with each other and use dialogue to resolve conflictual situations.
In short, while I agree with her that play needs to be front and center in elementary education, it needs other values, such as kindness and compassion, guiding it. In my house, we believe "you can't say you can't play." I long for a world with little to no violence. We can create that world by teaching our children that they are not singulars, but one part of the many. We are all one, and the renegade rules just furthers individualism in a very violent way.
One last thought....The common criticism against sharing is that I wouldn't' share my car with another adult, etc. This assumes no concept of private property. Toys in a classroom, or swings at the playground, are not private, they are public. As such, they need rules that ensure fairness for all members of society. I have no idea why our culture has decided to destroy such a distinction, and no idea why anyone wouldn't bring extra buckets for other kids. Toddlers do not understand sharing. They are selfish. it is our job to help them learn how to regulate disappoint. It's our job to teach them how to live in the world with others. In my world, we do this by sharing. We give the world what we hope to get in return, and I hope you'd share your car if my child was hurt and I had no means of transportation.
I enjoyed that this book was respectful of both children and parents without having the sanctimoniousness of many parenting books.