Slow Parenting

I keep thinking about a conversation I had with a parent at our school. She was talking to me about how busy her life was with three children, and how hard she works to make sure each one has their own life, full of rich experiences. Typically, this would mean running this one to hockey, that one to ballet and the other to violin lessons, often with only fleeting (chauffeuring) time with the parent. What she was talking about, however, was something entirely different. Instead, she shared the time she went for a walk to the mailbox with her son.

She told me how she realized that this small, slow moment was rich with one-on-one time, silence and observation, fresh air and nature, and ultimately resulted in his sharing something new about himself with her. This simple activity had such an impact on her son that when he returned to kindergarten the following Monday, he chose to write about it in his journal about what happened over the weekend, despite other more structured activities in which he participated.

It is easy for parents to fall into the trap of over-scheduling children, especially when it seems like everyone else is doing it. The question often posed is "Will I be putting my child at a disadvantage by not signing them up for all of these classes and activities?" Carl Honore, author of  The Power of Slow: Finding Balance and Fulfillment Beyond the Cult of Speed and, more recently, Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting, shared the following in an interview with the New York Times:

"To me, Slow parenting is about bringing balance into the home. Children need to strive and struggle and stretch themselves, but that does not mean childhood should be a race. Slow parents give their children plenty of time and space to explore the world on their own terms. They keep the family schedule under control so that everyone has enough downtime to rest, reflect and just hang out together. They accept that bending over backwards to give children the best of everything may not always be the best policy. Slow parenting means allowing our children to work out who they are rather than what we want them to be."

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