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License to Parent  By  cover art

License to Parent

By: Christina Hillsberg,Ryan Hillsberg
Narrated by: Christina Hillsberg,Ryan Hillsberg
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Publisher's Summary

"If Mr. and Mrs. Smith had kids and wrote a parenting book, this is what you'd get: a practical guide for how to utilize key spy tactics to teach kids important life skills - from self-defense to effective communication to conflict resolution." (Working Mother)

Christina was a single, successful CIA analyst with a burgeoning career in espionage when she met fellow spy Ryan, a hotshot field operative who turned her world upside down. They fell in love, married, and soon they were raising three children from his first marriage, and later, two more of their own.

Christina knew right away that there was something special about the way Ryan was parenting his kids, although she had to admit their obsession with surviving end-of-world scenarios and their ability to do everything from archery to motorcycle riding initially gave her pause. More than that, Ryan's kids were much more security savvy than most adults she knew. She soon realized he was using his CIA training and field experience in his day-to-day child-rearing. And why shouldn't he? The CIA trains its employees to be equipped to deal with just about anything. Shouldn't parents strive to do the same for their kids?

As Christina grew into her new role as a stepmom and later gave birth to their two children, she got on board with Ryan's unique parenting style - and even helped shape it using her own experiences at the CIA. Told through honest and relatable parenting anecdotes, Christina shares their distinctive approach to raising confident, security-conscious, resilient children, giving practical takeaways rooted in CIA tradecraft along the way. License to Parent aims to provide parents with the tools necessary to raise savvier, well-rounded kids who have the skills necessary to navigate through life.

©2021 Christina Hillsberg and Ryan Hillsberg (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“What does a spy know about raising kids? Usually they don't tell you. Lucky for us, this one is ready to talk.” (Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids and president of Let Grow) 

“A fresh and fascinating perspective on child-rearing.” (Kirkus Reviews

“This book is unlike all other parenting books; it’s a real story, told from the point-of-view of a CIA agent who first becomes a step-mom and, then, a mom. The advice is funny, important, refreshing and oh-so-needed. I’m so glad I made time for this book.” (Zibby Owens, author of Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books

What listeners say about License to Parent

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Fantastic Read!

Although, my own 7 children are all grown and parents themselves, I found this book to be informative and captivating. I can employ many of these skills even as a Grandmother of 22.
Christina and Ryan are excellent story tellers.
A must read no matter your phase of parenting!

1 person found this helpful

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Worth the time, pleasant listening

I enjoyed this parenting book in an entertaining way as well as helpful. The authors have a way of offering ideas that come across as relatable, and somehow even the negative parts of being a mom seem more mundane than before listening to this book.
I had just finished watching Covert Affairs before listening to this, so the CIA training was fascinating to me. Even without the stories and intrigue, this book is practical parenting at its finest. I loved it.
(I'm also very grateful for the honesty concerning failing/perfectionism and hormone craziness.)

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Enjoyable, informative

Interesting information for parents and grandparents to consider. The authors are sincere in their desire to raise self reliant kids and help others do the same. There experience in the CIA is a different perspective than most parents have.

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This is a Must Read for Everyone, not Just Parents

This book is a must read for everyone! Even though Christina and Ryan Hillsberg wrote this book for parents, the principles they teach apply to all ages. I compare this book’s ability to impact the world as much as Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This book provides the skills and proactive thinking processes that allow people to prepare and survive the uncertainties that await us in the days and years to come. If people learn nothing else but staying off of the X, that alone will save their lives someday. I am blessed to work with Ryan.

The skills, awareness, and defense approach the Hillsbergs taught their children should be taught K-12, in college, ongoing professional development and self-preservation. I felt Christina’s experience of being a new Stepmom and Bio Mom resonates with many women and men who have taken on those roles. The perfect Mom and Dad syndrome lasted about 10 minutes on the way home for most new parents.