I’ve never been one for parenting books. I raised my son without the benefit of any books (he turned 20 on Sunday) and he’s grown into a fine young man. He’s smart, caring, generous, and a whole host of other attributes that most parents would kill to see in their child.
Yet, on Tuesday, I covered a story from The Daily Beast that turned out to be an excerpt from a book called “License to Parent” written by Christian and Ryan Hillsberg (This is an affiliate link, and Bearing Arms may receive some renumeration if you purchase the book after clicking). Now, those aren’t two names that pop up in parenting circles, in part because their background isn’t in psychology, sociology, medicine, or any of the other fields you’d associate with parenting expertise.
The Hillsbergs were spies.
Yeah, yeah, I roll my eyes at anyone talking about being spies, but the excerpt I covered on Tuesday piqued my interest. So, I bought the book and read it that same day.
Yes, the whole book, and a parenting book at that.
When my daughter was born, I had all kinds of ideas of how I would raise her. Like most fathers, I fully planned on intimidating any guy who crossed our door seeking to take my daughter out. After all, that’s my little girl, not some plaything for his amusement.
Sitting in the delivery room, holding that little baby, I changed my mind. I decided that she needed to be the one who could protect herself. After all, her brother and I couldn’t be there all the time. I needed to raise her to be strong, capable, and able to deal with a harsh world that doesn’t like to play nice.
I can’t help but think that the Hillsbergs wrong License to Parent for folks like me.
Ryan was the father of three when he met Christina through their work in the CIA. Ryan was on the operations side–a real-life spy–and Christina was an analyst before she, too, went over to the operations side of the Agency. When they started dating, Christina was surprised by how Ryan parented his kids.
None were quite teens yet, but Ryan still gave them what Christina described as a long leash. He could do that because he’d raised them to be security-conscious, safe, and independent.
And he learned it all from the CIA.
Now, no one is talking about raising your kids to be little spies, and License to Parent isn’t about that. The Hillsbergs don’t seem to be doing that with their children–the couple has had two more to add to the three from Ryan’s previous marriage. Instead, they’re taking skills they learned in the CIA and applying them to making children a bit more resilient and prepared for an unkind world.
Frankly, this is the kind of parenting book the gun community should consider required parental reading.
For example, do your kids know how to tell if they’re being followed? The Hillsberg kids do, and they were able to make smart, security-conscious decisions that likely protected them from a bad situation. Hell, reading the story, I was amazed at some of the decisions these girls made. Some were smarter than I’d have made in their place, that’s for damn sure.
While Christina does go through the whole “if you have a gun, please keep it locked up” bit that may feel a bit worn at this point–and yes, you know who is writing at any given point in the book–it’s not like the Hillsbergs don’t believe in their kids protecting themselves. Case in point, see Tuesday’s story on the excerpt regarding the use of knives for self-defense.
But it goes beyond that in a number of ways, yet all relating back to the Hillsberg’s CIA training.
I’m not saying you’ll want to implement all of the things the Hillsbergs do–I don’t see me teaching my daughter to ride a motorcycle, for various reasons, as an example–the thinking behind much of this is something that many in the gun community should find right at home.
Even non-gun people, though, would do well to read the book and implement some of these strategies. Kids who can take care of themselves are far less likely to end up as statistics later on.
As such, I can’t really recommend this book enough. I’m sure as hell going to start using some of these ideas in my own parenting, and I encourage you to do so as well.