Book Club: Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi by Brian Leaf

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As I sat in the deck chair in the garden in my Birkenstocks, my 4 month old baby in a mei-tai, I knew I would enjoy this book. The subtitle ‘cloth diapers, cosleeping and my (sometimes sucessful) quest for conscious parenting’ appeals to my (not-so) inner hippie.

I loved Brian’s first book, so when I discovered he was writing one combining yoga with gentle parenting, my ears pricked up. This is a memoir of his parenting journey from pre-conception to starting school. Brian is lucky to live in Northampton, Massachusetts, which sounds like a pretty cool place to live. I must remember to look it up if I ever make it to the States (incidentally, I have some good friends who live in Longmeadow…). Northampton sounds like a hippie-enclave and right up my street. Anyway, I digress.

Brian’s parenting ethos is ‘conscious parenting’, which encompasses attachment / gentle / playful / simplicity parenting. Conscious parenting is responding to your child’s needs in that particular moment, and not being a slave to your own childhood experience or acting out of habit / unconscious motives. There are no star charts, naughty steps or babies left to cry it out here. One of the reasons that this book is so great is that is a memoir and is written by a man. There are lots of ‘parenting advice’ books written by men, but not of the personal-experience variety. Brian is totally ok with saying he worries about his kids / parenting skills / hairy penis (see p.135), which is rather refreshing in today’s often macho competitive world.

For anyone on the path of conscious parenting, or even who is a tiny bit curious, Brian’s book is a great overview of many other books. Dip your toe here to see if it’s for you, then go and read all of the other stuff he mentions – Unconditional Parenting, Playful Parenting, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen…

The book ends with a very brief guide to Ayurveda and how it might influence your parenting. I loved this section in Brian’s first book, and went out and bought various oils with which to embalm myself. I must read more about Ayurveda as it’s so fascinating.

Brian has written a light-hearted, from-the-heart book about alternative parenting, which is laugh-out-loud funny at times. You should read it too. My only criticism? The chapters should be longer!

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