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. Slow parenting calls on parents to 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. Slow parenting allows children to 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 do not allow them to fail. Slow parenting lets children have opportunities to fail and learn to deal with failure while avoiding to repeat their mistakes.
Through a caring and trusting relationship, parents know their children: their needs, interests and abilities, and push them without pressure at any activity to avoid getting exhausted or frustrated.
Slow parenting calls on parents to find the time to play with their children and have fun together without feeling guilty. Parents need to allow kids 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 or 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 and put family and its relationships first.
Dr. Maha Broum, author of ‘Parenting under Stress’ works as a parenting consultant/ student guidance counselor in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Visit the book’s website at: www.parentingunderstress.com; Join its page on Facebook: Facebook.com/parenting under stress and follow it on Twitter: Parenting Stress.