Rethinking Lifestyle, Childhood and Parenting
‘Slow parenting’ is a term coined by the Canadian journalist Carl Honoré. It is only one of many elements within a comprehensive lifestyle known as the ‘slow movement’, a cultural shift that developed in response to the rushed modern life. Other elements include slow food (cooking from scratch at home, supporting small food businesses), slow shopping (shopping from a small store not a big name supermarket), slow gardening (organic planting of flowers), slow travel (‘live’ at your travel destination: shop, cook, volunteer and work), slow money (investing in small local business, compared to stocks), slow families (spending time together without any distraction from digital media), slow medicine and slow leisure.
In the rush, parents miss the opportunity to build a healthy relationship with their children. In slow parenting, parents listen and pay attention, respect and respond to their children in a way that contributes to a fulfilled and really successful life.
In the rush, parents plan everything for their children from academics to activities and daily schedules. In slow parenting children develop a sense of ownership to achieve their own ambitions, through their own efforts and their own interests.
Parents want their children to succeed at everything and are not allowed to fail. In slow parenting children have opportunities to fail and to learn how to deal with failure and avoid repeating their own mistakes.
Through a caring and trusting relationship, parents know their children: their interests and abilities, and push them without pressuring them when practicing any activity so they are not exhausted not frustrated.
Slow parenting calls on parents to find the time to play with their children and have fun together without feeling guilty. They need to allow kids to have free rather than structured play to discover their interests and abilities, and allow them time to be lazy and do nothing to reflect on their experiences.
Parents should not have unrealistic expectations nor model social competition. Rather, they downshift to simpler living to reduce stress, gain leisure time and escape the work-spend cycle. In slow parenting, parents provide their children an opportunity to be in nature and learn about the world, or explore the world around them.
The change to a slow mindful life will not happen if we continue to accept that work has priority over our life and family. Rethink life priorities.