Book Review: Little House on the Freeway

Little House on the Freeway: Help for the Hurried Home

Tim Kimmel is the author of one of my favorite parenting books, Grace Based Parenting.  I’ve read that one several times and I thought it might be good to read something else by the same author.  I liked Little House on the Freeway but overall didn’t find it as helpful. Maybe because it does overlap some with Grace Based Parenting, the ideas weren’t as eye-opening to me. Also, I found that somewhat surprisingly to me, as I was reading it I felt like it confirmed more of what we already do rather than challenging me to make changes in the ways we parent. That’s good in its own way, but not as memorable of a reading experience.

One thing I like about Kimmel is that he focuses more on your heart and attitude as a parent rather than on providing a how-to manual. I somewhat expected this book to be more of a practical guide and was both disappointed and glad to find that it was more of an examination of the reader’s heart.  It might not seem as immediately helpful as a checklist of how to change but really in the long run it’s more worth reading. He does include an index at the end of the book that has “101 Ways to Give Rest to Your Family” which provides more practical ideas. Kimmel uses a lot of stories and anecdotes which make his books easy and fun to read. However, at times I think he stretches an analogy a bit to get his point across. I found this to be true in the other book I read by him and I think it’s just his style.

I found the most interesting chapter in this book to be the one on Rest in the Workplace. Kimmel is fairly bold and counter-cultural in his discussion of the idea of success:

Success should never be pursued as a goal. If you make success your goal, you are setting yourself up for intense disappointment….That’s because success was never meant to be a goal. It was meant to be an outcome of certain qualities and wise priorities. Qualities such as hard work, rendering a good service and product for a fair price, backing up your work, and maintaining integrity all the way- those are the things that bring success. These qualities allow room for us to be human. To be as good as we can..but maybe not as good as the next guy. People who work hard and fair can accept their shortcomings and inevitable failures- because success for them is an outcome, not a goal. It’s a process, not a product.

It’s what you are, not what you do.

This was a particularly interesting chapter to me this week after all the Tiger Mother discussion in the news. Both H. and I have made some degree of sacrifice in our respective careers in order to homeschool and have one parent always at home with the kids. We both are in agreement that it’s best for our family and we both are quite grateful for the opportunity to be able to have both time at home and time at work. However, the decisions we’ve made are counter cultural and sometimes it’s easy to forget that success isn’t what we do but what we are. This chapter helped me to remember.


3 thoughts on “Book Review: Little House on the Freeway

  1. Alice,

    Grace based parenting does seem to be exactly opposite to Tiger Mom. This is a very timely reminder. I read this book years ago and actually heard Tim Kimmel speak. He’s an impressive speaker and impressed me at a time when I was dealing with teens and sick parents, feeling very pinched in the middle. He helped me to deal with my parents needs more from my heart than from a sense of obligation. I agree with you that his books lack the “to do” lists but offer affirmation as you have mentioned. This book nudged me to focus more on relationships than on performance. In that way, the choices that you and H. are making in terms of your family, while possibly counter cultural, will pay dividends for years to come.

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