When I last sat down with author, comedian, and father of four James Breakwell last year, he was getting ready to launch his first book. Now, a year later, he’s launching his second. So, we’ve established that he’s a bit of an overachiever. I read his new book, Bare Minimum Parenting, and I can assure you that if you read it, you will laugh a lot and also feel much better about yourself as a parent. Win-win.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with James again to discuss his new book. And obviously, what really happened is we emailed each other using our phones while sipping on beers.
First off. I love the cover of your new book, Bare Minimum Parenting. When it comes to books, that’s what I care most about. Crossing out words is always hilarious, and in this case, it really does set up your central thesis. Talk a little about the premise of the book.
JAMES: The is a book about a girl who gives up her voice and her fishtail to land a prince. Wait, that’s what’s on TV. This book is about how you don’t have to be an overachieving parent to raise a decent human being. In fact, your kid will probably turn out better if you relax a little and stop pushing them so hard. Most of us grow up to be average adults. If our kids are going to be mediocre grown-ups no matter what we do, we might as well get them to that point by the easiest route possible.
I am definitely on the right path! One quibble with the title. At first, I read it as “Bear” and thought, “Woah, has James done research on how bears parent? That sounds fascinating.” Then I realized, as far as I know, he’s not a zoologist, so probably not. But, luckily for all your readers, you are a parenting expert, right?
JAMES: I’m not an expert on parenting or bears. Although I saw a bear at the zoo once, and apparently, I have four kids. They’re all still alive (the kids and the bear), so I must be doing something right. Although it’s been a while since I’ve done a headcount.
That’s great to hear. So glad that bear is doing well. For those readers who get past the cover (I did, of course, more on that later), what kind of nuggets of wisdom will they find? Or, since you bill this as an un-book, maybe un-wisdom?
JAMES: Obviously, the cover is the best part. I expect most people who buy the book will just set it on their mantle and stare at it like a treasured family heirloom. If the book falls down (always secure your book with drywall screws) and someone finds it in the open position and accidentally reads it, they would find out that most of what parents stress out about doesn’t really matter. They’d also learn that sports are a tragic mistake, screen time is great, and Abraham Lincoln is better than Joseph Stalin. Who knew?
Who knew, indeed. Your first book was about parenting through a zombie apocalypse, while the new book is about just plain parenting. Frankly, I don’t see the obvious difference. What am I missing?
JAMES: The zombie apocalypse is easier. If you mess up there, you die. It gets straight to the point. But in the non-apocalypse world, your shortcomings lead to recriminations from other parents and Facebook feuds that can last decades. Give me the zombies any day.
Amen to that. I’ve read most of the book, and I have to say, I am starting to feel more adequate. There’s no real question here, but I guess, job well done by you! Feel free to brag about yourself here. Or me even.
JAMES: I once fit an entire bag of M&Ms in my mouth. Granted, it was fun size, and I took the M&Ms out of the bag first, but I still feel like people need to know about it. I should update my bio. Man, I’m bad at promoting books.
Aren’t we all, James. But hey, if anyone needs someone to do mediocre M&M themed party tricks, they know who to call! But seriously, while your parenting may be bare minimum, you’re certainly moving quickly in the writing world. Anymore big plans on the horizon?
JAMES: I plan to really push myself as far as putting more M&Ms in my mouth. Maybe it will be two fun size bags next time, or even a full-size bag. Baby steps. As for writing, I’m under contract for another parenting humor book and two guided journals for kids. Expect me to hit you up for an interview when those come out. You should probably stop checking your emails.
I wish I could stop, James. I wish I could. E-mail checking addiction is a serious problem. Perhaps I’ll write a book about that…
And there you have it. Thank you again to James for stopping by Explorations. Bare (not Bear) Minimum Parenting is out November 6 and is available for pre-order now. Go ahead and buy it if you want to feel better about yourself. And, it will probably make James feel better if you buy it too. Who knows, maybe he can even buy that full-size bag of M&Ms.