“Slow Parenting” is for Lazy Parents

Sometimes I wish I  wasn’t so plugged into the news. Because if I wasn’t a journalist addicted to the Internet, I might never have seen this piece of shit article.

If you don’t feel like clicking over, here’s the synopsis:

Kids have busy lives. They have school, sports and extracurricular activities up the wazoo. They’re stressed and frazzled. Moreover, their parents are stressed out too because they have to drive them from soccer practice to guitar lessons to drama club rehearsal, and then they’re up until midnight finishing their homework. Their whole lives are structured and none of them get any free time to sit back, enjoy life and smell the roses. Something must be done to save the kids and their tired parents.

The answer, according to this article, is something called “Slow Parenting.” The idea, according to “experts,” is that the frenetic schedules most kids keep nowadays is taxing. So the answer is doing away with some structured activity and replacing it with free time during which everyone in the family can relax together.  This will slow down life’s chaotic pace and give kids and parents time to reconnect.

Or at least that’s what the people pimping this program want you to believe. But I’m not buying it.

First of all, the marketing wizard who thought it was a good idea to use the word “slow” to describe this has to be a little slow himself. Not the brightest idea in the world to connect your product to a word that can mean dumb. Yet dumb is exactly the word I’d use when discussing this.

There is nothing wrong with kids having a crazy schedule. There is nothing wrong with playing sports, learning an instrument and joining various clubs in addition to going to school. In fact, that is ideal. I was an honor roll student in high school and I played three sports a year. In addition to that I played three instruments, acted in a few plays and worked part-time from the time I was 15 years old. Not only that, but my younger brother had a similar schedule. So my parents were constantly shuttling us to various places both during the week, and on weekends, on a virtually non-stop basis.

But guess what? I still had time for family. We didn’t sit around the dinner table like the Brady Bunch, but I always managed to catch up with my parents at some point during the day. And both of my parents made the effort to carve out a little one-on-time throughout the week and also made sure to take trips and do things with us, so I was never lacking any Kodak moments. And because I kept busy, I had good grades that allowed me into a good college that accepted me, in part, because I was a well-rounded person who was always involved in something.

So to suggest that parents should slow things down is not only dumb, it’s wrong. Personally I think the majority of parents are too slow already. If anything, they should speed things up. Get themselves and their kids more involved, not less. Sure you have to remember to stop and smell the roses once in a while, but I think you can do that while simultaneously carrying on everything else in life.

Besides, a kid who is playing sports and acting in the drama club is probably not causing trouble on the street or getting into drugs.

And what really upsets me is that some parents are signing up for “Slow Parenting” classes and seminars. Are you kidding me??? Do you really need a class or an instructor to tell you how to be lazy and not take your kids to all of their activities? It’s just another racket from someone calling him/herself an “expert,” in order to make tired, lazy parents feel OK about shirking their responsibilities, under the guise of “Well you need to slow things down FOR THE KIDS.”

Not to mention I’m sure there is a tidy little fee parents have to pay to learn how to become “Slow Parents,” which is absolutely ridiculous. Can you imagine the commercial for “Slow Parenting?”

Are you tired of having an involved child? Are you missing your favorite TV shows because you have to pick your kid up from baseball and then take him to Scouts later in the night? Would you like to get some rest from your busy lives, but want to avoid the guilt of being a shitty parent? Well you’re in luck, because today we’re introducing “Slow Parenting”: the revolutionary new parenting method that allows you to stop running around all the time while simultaneously convincing you it’s all for the benefit of your children!

It’s such bullshit, because most kids want to learn. They want to try new things. And they thrive when challenged. Let’s not cut back on the amount of activities in which kids participate, let’s get MORE involved. But if you are a “Slow Parent,” don’t tell me you’re doing it for your kids. You’re doing it because you’re sick of running around everyday and you’re lazy.

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28 thoughts on ““Slow Parenting” is for Lazy Parents

  1. Ha! Reading crappy trend articles is definitely an occupational hazard of being a journalist. All damages should be covered by workman’s comp.

  2. Hmm….I don’t know about this one. I also was very involved and well rounded. I was a cheerleader (year round), active in student government and multiple clubs, worked from the time I was 15 and was an honors student. I agree that being busy and involved definately kept me from getting into mischief and helped me to manage my time, be organized and plan ahead.

    My only negative thoughts are for younger children. I think before middle school it is valuable for kids to try new things and have some structured activities but also to have some unstructured time to allow for creativity, exploring, free reading and just entertaining themselves. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have kids but I think that perhaps the idea of “unplugging” kids a little bit especially before middle school isn’t such a bad idea.

  3. Nathan: Most journalists I know are already damaged anyway!

    Kendra: Agreed. It definitely depends on the age of kids. Just for clarification, I guess I’m talking about kids 12-13 and older.

  4. I think that the idea of doing less is good at any age. I don’t think it means stopping everything but taking one or two activities off could have some positive affects on the family. I see what you are saying in your response about how you were super busy and turned out ok but I also can see the point in the original article that kids are stretched thin and family time is what suffers.

  5. SAHD PDX: Point taken, but I think “family time” can also be during the activities. Case in point, baseball games. I played on All Star baseball teams during the summer and that meant countless weekend tournaments. So even though I was technically not with my family because I was playing, they were watching and having what amounted to an all-day picnic with other parents. And to this day, those are some of my fondest childhood memories.

    Like I said, it’s definitely important to stop and smell the roses once in a while. But I don’t think more activities take away from family time. I think they add to it.

  6. I was all ready to disagree with you until you clarified. My twin niece and nephew are only 8 and my sister has them so scheduled that they actually CRY when they are told they have piano, ballet (for the girl), (they both like scouts though), the boy likes baseball and is GOOD! Like seriously good (he wants to be Derek Jeter sorry, he even wore a Jeter uniform for career day), the girl likes soccer, she makes them both play both. The girl cant throw for shit, and she doesnt run, and winds up being upset that her brother is so good (twins tend to be very competitive).

    Their days are so scheduled that I feel sorry for them. I dont BLAME my sister, because she cant work, she is disabled, so she plans her days around planning what else she can do for them. Otherwise I would have stepped in a couple years ago and told her to get a friggen job already, they are in school full time!

  7. PS – Thank you also for the comment update. I seriously thought you blocked me for my Yankee comments, and I was all like what a pussy.

    I know longer think you are a pussy lol.

  8. Melissa: Yeah, 8 is a little young. Don’t get me wrong, I think doing a healthy amount of activities at that age is good. But it sounds like they may be overdoing it.

    And thank you for not calling me a pussy. Even though Derek Jeter and the rest of the Yankees most definitely are. Especially A-Rod and Joba.

  9. I think I meant to start that sentence with now I know you are not a pussy btw. I know the difference between no and know just FYI.

    Hangs head in shame…

  10. This seems to be a problem of upper income suburban kids. Trust me there are millions of American children coming home to no parents, no afterschool activities, and no supervision. They frequently live in rural areas or dilapidated inner city neighborhoods where access to quality extracurriculars is a difficult or near impossible feat. Some slacking off by the Sophmore who has a 4.0 and who’s parents are making big money is okay. But for the low income student in rural Appalachia who comes home to her drunk molesting father or the 12 year old boy who has to go directly home and shut his blinds because of gang violence they really really would love to have safe “busy” activities to take up their time. Good post

  11. That is friggin brilliant and I wish I had thought of it first. I know exactly who their target demographic is and I fully endorse their endeavor. Those particular people can be identified by the father with career tunnel vision, the mother in the freakishly large suv that inhales zanax all day and wears capris 10 months out of the year, (my theory is that the decision between pants or shorts makes them snap and they get stuck in limbo) and the kids that raid the medicine cabinet for pill parties.

    The stress of trying to excel in the reality these people create warps kids. I went to BWB for k – 5 and my oldest went there for 3 years. I speak from experience, lol.

  12. Aaron, I usually agree with you, but not so much on this one. First of all the answer (as it is to everything) is BALANCE. I know a family that has four children and every one of them are involved in at least 4 activities at any one time. The mother is a stay at home mom, which is the only way it work because she does spend her entire day running around with them. They often have to leave one activity early to get to another one. It is INSANE. After witnessing this insanity, Ray and I discussed what type of activity level we wanted for our family and agreed that we certainly wanted our children to particpate in activites – academic, athletic, and artisitc, however decided that at the most they could participate in two activites at a time.

    I agree it depends on the child and the age. I think the point is to step back and make sure you are not running your child around so much you are both miserable. I think it is very important for kids to have plenty of “play” time. I grew up playing in the woods and constantly building forts and having “missons” – completely unstructered play time that allowed me to explore my world. I want my kids to have the same thing!

  13. Honestly, though you may be right, I am prone to stress and the idea of allowing myself to be constantly doing something (other than working full time, making dinner and cleaning the house, taking classes for my masters, and being a mom) driving my kids around and having to attend all of those activities would probably kill me. And that, in your world, would make me selfish because I am taking care of my needs instead of “enriching” my kids. Thats just crap. Every family is different. The article, however, is also crap. Just for the record. I hate people telling me how to raise my kids.

  14. Jules: Balance is definitely important. And it’s also important to remember that if you’re forcing kids to do activities they don’t like, that’s no good either. Then both kid and parent will be miserable. But if you have a teenager and they love sports, guitar lessons, etc then that is play time. It’s something they enjoy and as a bonus it’s educational. I agree it’s important to have some down time, but for most kids nowadays that involves video games, texting and being online 24/7. That’s what needs to be avoided.

    Teresa: I get it. My wife is the same exact way and we’re going to have HUGE problems when Will gets older and more involved in structured activities. And this may sound stubborn, but I don’t care. As long as Will is interested and enjoying himself, I will shuttle him (and any other kids we may have in the future) all around creation because I know how much it enriched my life to have my parents do that for me. Will it be frustrating and stressful sometimes? Abso-friggin-lutely. But it’ll also be totally worth it and it’s a sacrifice I’m beyond willing to make. But like you said, every family is different. I just took issue with the article advocating fewer activities when there are so many kids out there who need more to do, not less, and parents who should get off their asses instead of take a time out.

  15. We never had to teach our kids how to do nothing. They figured that out pretty much by themselves.

    We also let our kids figure out which activities they needed to step back from if they were over-committed. But we felt it was important that THEY eventually make that decision (as much as young kids CAN make decisions) rather than have it based upon what was easier for us. Not that we didn’t manipulate that when it served our advantage…

    I believe more important that actually trucking your kids to all these activities is letting them know you are WILLING to truck them if they really want to do them. That is what kids sense more than anything. If they know you don’t want to take them, they will shy away (mostly). When they know you are there for them, they feel like they are unafraid to try anything.

    Can’t say our way was right or wrong, but it worked for us.

  16. Hey theoldguy, what about my freshman year of high school when you LITERALLY AND PHYSICALLY FORCED ME to sign up for the marching band?? I was surrounded by socially awkward geeks donning cowboy hats with bright purple feathers popping out of it, yet you forced me to “try it because you’ll like it.”

    I did not like it. Not one bit.

  17. That was your mother. Although I admit, I got perverse pleasure out of it.

    Shut up and stop whining. Remember, if it wasn’t for me, there would now be pictures of you in a sailor’s suit floating around.

  18. Daddy files

    You know what the 2 most common sellers are in North America? Stimulants and pain killers. Do you ever wonder why? Its because most people run around like chickens without a head. Slowing down is exactly what people need. I work in an industry that is thriving exactly for the reason that people are too stressed and too fatigued because of ridiculous schedules. More is just the cry of Capitalism making sure you consume. Take a good look around, maybe if you and your neighbours “Slowed” down a little you might have seen the CRASH coming.

  19. Titfortat: No, I think we’re a doped up society because of big pharma and doctors who overmedicate their patients. That and everyone has to have a disorder for everything, treatable by medication.

    Sure some people need to slow down, and I said as much in my article. But if you thought having a kid wasn’t going to be busy, then you didn’t do your homework. Having a kid is life consuming. But that’s OK, most parents are willing to make the sacrifice.

    But please don’t tell me “more” is the cry of capitalism. I’m talking about more activities for/with your children. I’m not talking about greedy banks or Wall Street bankers. I’m talking about more involvement for parents and children. How can you possibly construe that as a bad thing??? Trying to compare the recent economic crash with parents/kids who have busy schedules is not only dumb, it is completely nonsensical. Forget apples and oranges, this is apples and fire hydrants. You’re way off base here.

  20. Trying to compare the recent economic crash with parents/kids who have busy schedules is not only dumb, it is completely nonsensical.(DF)

    The sense comes into play when you see that “busyness” disconnects you from your family. Running from activity to activity doesnt foster good relationships. The truth is it teaches kids to disconnect. Modern living does that with an emphatic yes. So, if your early years teach you to disconnect it makes it easy to disconnect financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually…. and on and on. You may think otherwise but that doesnt mean I have to agree. I have a feeling if you looked hard in the mirror you just might agree.
    But then again, probbbbabbbly not. ;)

  21. But that’s OK, most parents are willing to make the sacrifice.(DF)

    Oh by the way, that statement is bang on nonsensical. Most parents these days have their head way up the stink hole. Just look at the kids who have to commint suicide because both sets of parents are disconnected. Both the bullies and the bullied have disconnected parents.

  22. TitforTat: Wow. I think we definitely just have to agree to disagree here.

    Business does not disconnect you from family. I was ridiculously busy as a kid and teen, and I couldn’t be closer with my family. Running from piano lessons to soccer practice may have been busy, but it was fun. I learned an instrument. And with team sports you gain absolutely invaluable lessons about hard work, cooperation and being part of something more than yourself. And if anything, those things allowed me to connect even more with my parents because we had even more to talk about.

    And how are you drawing a parallel between lots of activities and bullying/teen suicide? One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Kids commit suicides for a variety of reasons, even the kids with great parents from good homes. Likewise, not all bullies are from broken homes, or homes where their parents do too much. Some kids are just assholes, despite a good upbringing. But trying to imply that bullying is an offshoot of being “too involved” is more than a little strange.

  23. DF

    Of course its strange, disconnection usually is. You cant sit there and tell me that kids today are even remotely close to what you were like. And seeing as I am slightly(oops) older than you, they are nothing like my generation either. Does that mean you and I are better. Nope. But for the most part kids today are more disconnected because parents are too busy. This busyness happens on multiple levels and is very insidious. In fact, before you know it stupid shit starts happening. I am not saying be involved in your childs life, what I am saying is dont allow it to become too busy. You may have turned out great by not sharing dinners or other aspects with your family, but the studies show that families that eat together have better chances of staying together. We could banter about this all day long and Im sure we would agree to disagree, so maybe I will bow out now and just continue being a little strange. ;)

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