‘Minimalist Parenting’ Author: Fatherly Instincts Trump Expert Advice

Minimalist ParentingToday’s Dad can get overwhelmed by the crush of parenting tips at his disposal. The co-authors of “Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less” want fathers to cut themselves some slack.

Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest, who blog at the award-winning sites Boston Mamas and Parent Hacks, respectively, say a father’s instincts should be the ultimate guide.

Daddylibrium checked in with Christine to learn more about her parenting philosophy, the ways blogging influenced her work and how she’s helping empower women in Africa through book sales.

Daddylibrium: Today’s parents have access to more information than ever before. Is that pressure changing the way fathers interact with their children, even if they prefer to just go with their gut on many issues?

Christine: It certainly can! One of the things Asha and I address straight out in “Minimalist Parenting” is the modern parenting conundrum of “wrestling with abundance,” which is created by the volume of options and information out there. On the one hand, options are great. On the other hand, it’s not good when options and external pressures get in the way of parents trusting their instincts and making decisions based on their and their kids’ priorities, values and interests.

Daddylibrium: My wife has written guest posts at my blog addressing “mommy guilt”– do you think mothers or fathers, in general, stress themselves out trying to learn every possible facet of the latest parenting tips?

Christine: Trying to absorb and follow every parenting prescription would certainly be stressful and, well, exhausting! But I think it’s important to note that the desire to learn comes from a really good place of wanting to do well by your kids; I don’t want parents to feel bad about that.

Our recommendation is to follow what best suits you; it’s not a one size fits all prescription. So, some parents are really strongly guided by their instincts. Others want to read a bit and then fly with what works for them. And others find a lot of comfort in data. Which is all fine. Also, your approach may change over time. When my first daughter was born, I was deep in my career as a neuroscientist; research was my thing. So I read a lot and really wanted to follow the “rules.” When my second daughter was born (6.5 years later) everything was different. I was confident in my abilities and more in tune with my parenting priorities; I didn’t worry about the external “right” way to do things!

Daddylibrium: Several readers have described your book as “non-judgmental” – what’s your reaction to that, and was it a guiding principle during the book’s creation?

Catherine: Christian, you have no idea how happy that makes me! Asha and I have each been through enough parenting challenges to realize that all parents encounter tough situations and do their best to muddle through them. And that external judgment can be maddening given that people have no concept of the depths of what you’re wrestling with behind closed doors. So yes, we believe in a non-judgmental, supportive approach to the parenting journey, and I’m thrilled that the book is being interpreted that way by readers.

Daddylibrium: I’m sure the process of writing the book was an education unto itself, but what have you learned about parenting since the book’s debut — either from online engagements with fellow parents or simply from spreading the word about your minimal-centric message?

Christine: What has solidified for me is something that inspired the writing of the book in the first place. Asha and I are long-time bloggers and every time we wrote about minimalist parenting-type approaches, there was a resounding response, sense of relief, and desire for more. People clearly needed to know they weren’t alone or complete freaks for wanting to do things a different way. In the book we talk about “giving permission to step off the overparenting treadmill.” It’s been very powerful to put that out there.

Daddylibrium: Some of your book blurbs come from the social media space – for entrepreneurs out there, can you briefly describe how you and your co-author used the web and social media to spread the word about your book and parenting strategies?

Christine: Like parenting, I think it all comes down to community. Asha and I have been blogging for a long time. We already had established followings when the book launched and we’re grateful to be part of an incredible community of bloggers who were so excited about the book and really wanted to help share about it. Both of those things were crucial in helping to spread the word about minimalist parenting.

HelpWomenAtRiskDaddylibrium: Talk about #HelpWomenAtRisk … how did you get involved with the charity, what fact or facts compelled you to take action and what can readers do to offer their help or resources?

Christine: We created this benefit to honor the one-year anniversary of our trip to Ethiopia with ONE Moms. It was a life-changing event and the irony of having just finished writing “Minimalist Parenting” (where we talk about wrestling with abundance) and meeting Ethiopian families who were wrestling with scarcity did not escape us. One of our site visits was to fashionABLE, an amazing accessories company whose workforce is comprised of women who have been lifted from prostitution through job and life training programs by Ethiopia-based Women At Risk and US-based Mocha Club. This work is simply amazing.

During the month of October, Asha and I are donating 100% of royalties on all copies of Minimalist Parenting sold through this tracking link to Women At Risk. To help the cause, simply order the book via this site; buy copies for yourself, friends or family, to donate to your local library or wherever! We’re also thrilled that our publisher, Bibliomotion, is stepping up and matching our donation on the first 100 copies sold as part of this fundraiser.

Daddylibrium: If readers take away one essential lesson from your book what would it be, and why?

Christine: That this is your life, your family, your experience, your journey. You are the driver of your bus, and you don’t need to be driven by guilt and comparison. In the book we provide the big picture strategies and tangible actions needed to get past the guilt and edit your life, both physically and emotionally. So you have the bandwidth to do more of what you love and less of what you don’t. Our hope is that parents will read the book and feel equipped with the confidence and tools to move forward and make their lives awesome … on their own terms.

Photo Credit:  Karen Walrond

Comments

  1. says

    I really enjoyed reading this interview and it reminds me that I really should get the book Minimalist Parenting. I hadn’t heard of the book or the term until I listened to an episode of the NYC Dads Group podcast a few months ago where they interviewed one of the authors.

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