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Are We There Yet?

Thu., March 12, 2009, 4:14 p.m.

“Slow parenting”

In some circles, parenting has become a competitive sport.

For some reason, we can’t help but compare our kids to others. If we hear of a kid who can sing the ABCs at the age of 18 months, we feel pressured to break out the flashcards and start teaching the alphabet to our infants. Or if we learn of a child who was potty-trained at the age of 1, we start to wonder if there’s something wrong with our 2-year-old who has shown no interest in getting out of diapers. Often, we worry that our children are already behind – in crawling, walking, talking and other milestones. If they're a little older, we get anxious if they're not reading or doing math as well as their peers. We might even fuss about handwriting or the child's performance in a sport.

Writer Lora Shinn suggests that parents need to mellow out and seek an alternative to “hyperparenting” and this pressure to create Baby Einsteins. The movement is called “Slow Parenting.”

In the same way that the slow food movement asks us to savor locally-grown food and home-cooked meals, as well as the time we spend eating with friends and family, the slow parenting movement promotes a more relaxed approach to raising kids.

In her story first published on the website Parent Map, Shinn interviewed Carl Honore, a proponent of the Slow Movement and author of Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting.

"It's about giving childhood the time and attention it deserves," Honore told Shinn. Instead of worrying about whether your child has met certain milestones, chill out, he suggested. Be open to unstructured time. Become more aware of the moment that you are spending with your child. Get to know his or her personality instead of pushing your child to accomplish certain skills at a time when he or she might not be developmentally ready or when your child has no interest.

"Sink into the uncertainty," Honore said.

Slow parenting, he and others say, also involves cutting back on activities and toys so that families can focus on each member and the time they spend together.

What do you think about slow parenting? Would it work for your family despite the busy-ness of our day-to-day lives?

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This blog is intended to provide a forum for parents to share knowledge and resources. It's a place for parents young and old to combine their experiences raising families into a collective whole to help others.