Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear - Book Review

Image description: an image of Kim Brooks' book, Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear sitting on a desk. Multiple, colored tabs stick out of the side of the book showing marked pages for future reference.

I posted this on Facebook and wanted to post it here too. This is my review of Kim Brook’s new book, Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear.


In 2011, three years before our family would be raked through the press for sailing across an ocean with small children, author Kim Brooks left her 4 year old son alone in a car for five minutes while she ran into a store. It was a cool day outside. He was buckled in and occupied with his iPad. She locked the car doors and ran in & out of a local Target on a quick errand. Unbeknownst to her a stranger filmed her son, her license plate, and her driving away that day. The stranger called the police and gave them the video. So began a two-year legal nightmare that would consume her life and motivate her to research why in just 40 years, or two generations, we have moved from a society that used to allow parents room to make their own parenting choices to one that is based on fear, paranoia, and the overly concerted cultivation of our offspring.

Her book, Small Animals: Parenting in the Age of Fear, was published this week and I received an advanced copy. I was riveted as I read her story. I made copious notes because in my Rebel Heart book, I am writing about the inordinately negative press we received during and after our rescue at sea, both in the mainstream media and by society for sailing with our daughters. People jumped to judgement on sensational headlines alone, without knowing anything about the many families who live aboard or sail with their children, that it is a routine and safe way to travel, or that Eric and I were experienced sailors and had been raising our children aboard since we brought them each home from the hospital.

Part of the reason my husband and I decided to leave and go sailing with our kids was because we didn’t want to participate in the new oppressive and judgmental paradigm that is modern parenting. When our daughter became ill during our passage a series of cascading events meant we had to initiate a rescue to save her. We didn’t expect that our calling for help would result in being attacked and labeled as bad parents. Indeed we believed we were being good parents by getting her the medical attention she needed.

Brooks’ book is a fascinating, revelatory read. If you are a parent who is looking for a reason to step away from the fear-based practices of your peers and if you are curious as to why parenting methodologies have changed so rapidly in the last 40 years, I highly recommend you buy her book. If you are looking for an alternative to the way our culture is pushing us all to parent, then get a copy of Small Animals. I also suggest you check out the Free-Range Parenting movement, first started by Lenore Skenazy and her community called Let Grow to find like-minded individuals.

Brooks’ book is both a battle cry for change and a lament for children and parents who are living in the fear-based mindset of modern day parenting. Buy her book to understand how we got here and what we can do to take our lives back. #RebelHeart #KidsOnBoats #WomenWhoSail #FreeRangeKids

You can buy Kim's book here:

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