In Praise Of Slowness was a TED talk I really related to, so when I found out the presenter Carl Honoré was featured in a new documentary I couldn’t want to see it.
Frantic Family Rescue invites world-renowned advocate for “slow-parenting,” Carl Honoré, into the homes of three busy Australian families. Carl unplugs adults and kids alike from their devices and throws out their crazy schedules. It’s all about transforming family members from stressed out clock-watchers, to happy and unhurried. Do their lives, relationships and bodies feel better? Or is there no turning back from our 21st Century culture of hurry?
It airs on ABC on 11th August at 9:20pm and will be available later on iview (Australia). You can check out the trailer here:
I’m honoured to have Carl here on the blog today talking to us a bit more about “slow parenting” and how we can work towards it:
Interview with Carl Honoré
What is Slow Parenting?
“Slow” in this context does not mean doing everything at a snail’s pace. It means doing everything at the right speed – fast or slow or whatever pace works best. Slow Parenting is about quality over quantity; real and meaningful human connections; being present and in the moment.
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, to play without adults getting in the way, to get bored even. After all, that is how kids learn to think, create, socialise and take pleasure from things; it’s how they work out who they are rather than what we want them to be.
By limiting screen time and structured activities, Slow Parenting also ensures that families spend enough time together doing stuff that is immensely valuable but will never appear on a CV: chatting, cooking and eating, playing games, going for walks, reading and telling stories, or just sharing a cuddle on the sofa.
Slow Parents accept that bending over backwards to give children the best of everything may not always be the best policy (because it denies them the much more useful life lesson of how to make the best of what they’ve got.)
Slow parenting means letting things happen rather than jumping in and forcing them. It means accepting that the richest kinds of learning and experience often cannot be measured or neatly packaged on a university application form or a CV.
Slow parents understand that childrearing should not be a cross between a competitive sport and product-development. It is not a project; it’s a journey. Slow parenting is about giving kids lots of love and attention with no conditions attached.
How many families would you say are over scheduled in Australia these days and how do you know if you are one of them?
It is hard to say. Obviously it costs money to overdose on structured extracurricular activities so that is most common in middle- and upper-middle class families. But when it comes to overdosing on technology and screen-time, Australian youngsters up and down the social scale are affected.
Here are some signs that your family may be over scheduled, or that you as a parent are over invested in your children’s activities:
1. You shout yourself hoarse and get into arguments with the referee, coach and other parents at your child’s sports games.
2. Your child falls asleep on the backseat of the car en route to his extracurricular activities.
3. You pull your child out of one activity early in order to get to the next one on time.
4. Your children’s activities are your main, or only, topic of conversation in adult company.
5. You regularly eat meals in the car.
6. You constantly compare your children’s achievements with those of their peers.
7. Your child never has time to be bored.
8. You cannot remember the last time you did something spontaneous with your children.
9. You cannot remember the last time you went a whole day without schlepping your child to an activity.
10. Your always have “play dates” instead of just playing.
How did you personally become interested in slow parenting?
It all started at a parent-teacher evening. The feedback on my seven-year-old son was good but the art teacher really hit the sweet spot. “He stands out in the class,” she gushed. “Your son is a gifted young artist.” And there it was, that six-letter word that gets the heart of every Competitive Parent racing. Gifted.
That night, I trawled Google, hunting down art courses and tutors to nurture my son’s gift. Visions of raising the next Picasso swam through my mind – until the next morning. “Daddy, I don’t want a tutor, I just want to draw,” my son announced on the way to school. “Why do grown-ups always have to take over everything?”
The question stung like a belt on the backside. My God, I thought, he’s right. I am trying to take over. I’m turning into one of those pushy parents you read about in the newspapers. I knew then that I needed to back off and rethink my whole approach to parenting.
Tell us a bit about how you think your new documentary will help frantic families.
Let’s make one thing clear up front: I did not make this documentary to make parents feel guilty or bad about themselves. As a parent myself, I know how much pressure there is on families these days. And I know everyone is trying to do their best for their children. It’s hard out there.
My hope is that parents will watch Frantic Family Rescue and breathe a huge sigh of relief. That they’ll come away understanding that: there is an alternative to the high-octane, busy-all-the-time model of childhood; dialling down the pressure allows children to thrive and reach their full potential; family life can be a source of joy rather than a cross to bear.
Every child is unique, every parent is unique, every family is unique. We know our own children better than anyone else, which means the best way to parent is to trust our instincts. All the work I do on parenting is aimed at helping parents regain the confidence to shut out the sound and fury swirling around childrearing and focus on their own family and priorities.
Bottom line: Frantic Family Rescue is designed to inspire viewers to pause and reflect on their parenting so they can find the balance that suits their family best.
Thanks Carl for sharing with us!
You can check out his website here and be sure to mark your calendars for Frantic Family Rescue!
Do you need to slow down your pace of life? Would your kids benefit from Slow Parenting?