Book Review: Honeycomb Kids

Honeycomb Kids by Anna M. Campbell

Honeycomb Kids by Anna M. Campbell

Just in time for Earth Day, I received a copy of Honeycomb Kids: Big Picture Parenting for a Changing World and to Change the World! by Anna M. Campbell to review.  I was really excited about this book; I love ideas about raising conscious and aware children that can become productive members of society.  Normally, I find parenting books in and of themselves to be off putting (I’ve checked out more than a few that seem condescending, and mundane).  Happily, I immediately clicked with this author’s relaxed writing style and obvious devotion to her children and family.

Here’s the official synopsis of the book:

Honeycomb Kids is a parenting book for the 21st Century. Including more than 300 practical ideas and activities, it comes with two priceless benefits: not only does it help you prepare your children for an uncertain tomorrow, it also helps you shift to a better family life for today. Reading this book will empower your family to make the most of a world increasingly defined by over-population, rising prices, poor health, fast depleting natural resources and an unstable political, social, environmental and financial landscape. Feeling daunted by these realities? Don’t be! This book shows you how to nurture the timeless values and resilience your children will need to become contributors, not just consumers.

Intriguing, right?  I know!!  Demonstrating her dedication to her family, Campbell and her husband abandoned the fast paced city lifestyle and moved to a farm in the country (oh how I’d love to do that….I live in a rural area, but not a great community! I wish we could move to a farm!).  The book opens with a comprehensive overview of challenges facing our children and world today; she goes on to share what they might have to look forward to if changes don’t happen.  I really liked that with each specific challenge presented, facts and studies were included to back the information up.  It is helpful to have the resource material to learn more about the topics, to both educate ourselves and our kids.

An interesting concept Campbell presented was the concept of the hive.  As noted at the beginning of Part Two:

“A successful beehive is a place of cooperation, industriousness, shared decision-making, planning, determination to survive together, reverence for nature, yummy stuff, and a little bit of magic!  Kind of like the ideal human family!”

Exactly!  I loved it when I read it – I smiled out loud.  Another thing that resonated with me was her discussion of the problem with “helicopter parenting”, and not allowing our children the space (or providing them with the tools) to deal with and overcome adversity.  It is possible to be too encouraging (kids need realism too – maybe they really CAN’T sing, or they DID play poorly in a soccer game).  There’s nothing wrong with giving kids some responsibility to young kids – my six year old can absolutely handle making her pb&j for her lunch at school each day; doing so provides her with a sense of pride and accomplishment (and she knows how to forage in the pantry!).  It does children a disservice when parents try to be superheroes, and handle every minute detail of their little lives.  Just like kids need to get dirty, and play outside, they need to be taught how to handle real-life issues, stresses, and problems.  (No, I’m not saying you should boot them out in the street.  But isn’t it better for you to be the person that teaches them how to handle adversity, rather than the inevitable day come when they have to fend for themselves, and don’t know how? Like the author, I’d much prefer my children learn from me, in a setting I can have some input towards.)

At the close of each chapter, Campbell provides “Thought Launchers and Conversation Starters”.  I enjoyed these sections immensely.  I will admit, often the suggestions were not at all practical for the area I live in (no way would a “time bank” work in my community), but by and large they at least contained a nugget of something we could adapt and use for our family.  And since reading the book, I find myself stopping to think about the way I’m preparing to phrase a question, so that my daughter will benefit the most from the ensuing discussion (my two year old son only participates if we are talking about trains, or Batman!).

I certainly didn’t mean for this review to be so opinionated, or so wordy.  Thanks for sticking with me!  Here’s what you should take away from what I’m saying about this book: it’s definitely a keeper.  It’s an easy read, full of thought-provoking discussions and ideas on raising well-rounded kids.  The author is someone I wish I was friends with, and I’m so grateful she shared her life experiences in this book!

Quick Facts:
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Cape Able (April 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0980747503
ISBN-13: 978-0980747508
Author Bio: Anna M. Campbell

*I received a complimentary copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own; no other compensation was given.

Men Who Hate Women? The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

My favorite job was when I spent four summers working at a summer camp as a counselor to the women counselors.  I loved the experience, getting to know the different personalities of women who all had a love of children, encouraging them throughout the long weeks, and, of course, lots of trips to relieve our stress with ice cream.

One summer, as I was getting to know the women on our staff, I discovered that two women were only recently starting to deal with the fact that their older brothers had abused them when they were young girls.  This was their first time to acknowledge something that neither of them had even shared with their parents.  Their emotional needs were great as they sought to make sense of something that was so senseless.  Both women wrestled with feeling unsafe with their brothers and anger at their parents for not protecting them somehow.

Suddenly, I needed more than ice cream to fix a problem.  Unfortunately, this was an issue that went way beyond my experience and my ability to counsel.  For me, this was the first time that something this devastating and horrific had even come close to touching my world.  I grew up with one other sister.  I may have dated some weird guys, but no one came close to abusing me.  How could something like this happen in an otherwise normal, happy family?  If even brothers were capable of such terrible acts, was it possible ever to feel completely safe around men?

Thankfully, both were able to get counseling from another resource.  All they wanted from me was a listening ear and affirmative friendship.  Together we all began a process of acknowledging that there are men out there who hate women as well as wonderful men who treat women with proper love and respect.

Stieg Larsson wrote a crime thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, that on the surface seems to be about international criminal fraud.  As one gets deeper into the book, however, one learns that the book actually reveals a deep-seated and chilling tale about men who commit horrible and horrific acts against women.  While this novel  is a work of fiction, Larsson reminds the reader throughout that the statistics of men who mistreat women are high, even in a seemingly peaceful country like Sweden.

Now that I have a son, as well as three daughters, I find myself trying to find a balance between being aware of the potential risk and dangers of abuse and being aware that my kids are just normal, average kids who don’t have thoughts along these lines.  Of course I don’t want to be a paranoid, hypersensitive mom on the verge of a freak out about something that probably won’t happen.  I also don’t want to be a naive mom who lets something happen right under her nose without any awareness of it.

My goal is teach my son to be a man who loves women appropriately, with respect and honor.  I want to teach my girls to love themselves enough only to date men who will love them this way as well.  Hopefully my only contact with such horrors will be limited to what I read in books like Larsson’s.

This is an original post to the Left to Write book club.  You can find out more about Melanie’s parenting quandaries and qualms at her personal blog, tales from the crib and reviews from the crib.