Slow Parenting

Have you fallen victim to the tyranny of perfect? Perfect body, perfect home, perfect car, perfect clothes, perfect children? There is no doubt our society strives for perfect. But perfect is impossible. Besides, just who determines what perfect is?

This desire for perfection pressures parents and children. Both parents work; the children go to school; after school, weeknights and weekends the children are involved in extracurricular activities to the point they have no playtime and the family has no time to rest. In between it all, the kids still have to keep those grades up and be an academic success too. According to, in the last 30 years, homework has doubled, and playtime has dropped by 25%. But studies have shown that playtime builds leadership and social skills as well as reduces anxiety and depression in children. Playtime is important. Enter the slow-parenting movement.

Carl HonorĂ© did not coin the phrase “slow parenting” but his books are a driving force behind the movement. HonorĂ© is the author of The Power of Slow: Finding Balance and Fulfillment Beyond the Cult of Speed, and, more recently, Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting. He says, “Slow parents give their children plenty of time and space to explore the world on their own terms. They keep the family schedule under control so that everyone has enough downtime to rest, reflect and just hang out together.” Slow parenting isn’t about sitting around doing nothing; it’s about balance, quality versus quantity.

Steps to Slow Down
• Examine your family’s schedule as it now exists. How many extracurricular activities are each of your children involved in? As a single parent, I made the decision that one extracurricular activity per child (I have 3) was plenty and still allowed both me and them to have down time between work and school. Cut back if needed, and allow the kids to help in the decision process.
• Examine your expectations for your child. Are they realistic? Are you constantly pushing them academically, socially and athletically? Remember, balance is the goal.
• Re-examine your life priorities. Does your daily schedule promote them? One of my priorities is growing in my relationship with God. Yet, there was a time when my day was so filled with activity I didn’t have time to pray or read the Bible.
• How often do your children complain about going to those extracurricular activities? This may be a sign they are doing too much.

Cutting back activities may be difficult at first, but the added time for family togetherness and rest will soon bring relief. Setting aside the tyranny of perfect will take a real weight off your shoulders.

For more information on slow-parenting, start here: "What Is Slow Parenting?"

Debra L. Butterfield ©2010


  1. Some of us don't have to try, it just comes naturally. Actually, my problem isn't so much with trying to be perfect as with trying to live up to the expectations of those who seem to think they are. PBPGINFWMY

  2. I understand that. I am a people pleaser and it's still hard to realize that I only have to please God.