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Chill (Free Range, or Slow) Parenting on the Rise

11.20.09 Chill (Free Range, or Slow) Parenting on the Rise

Perhaps as a backlash to the micromanaged, overscheduled children of the past 10 years, many writers are sharing a new trend in parenting– with many names, all entertaining, such as “idle”; “free-range” or “slow” parenting. Oh, yeah, do I like the sound of that.

According to this article Let the Kid Be from the New York Times, more and more parents are refusing to overschedule, hover, and worry about every move their child makes. You’ve probably read their blogs, late at night, when you are worrying about something, and they made you feel better. It’s a bit like watching the Nanny show when you think your kids are poorly behaved, because by god, they are never that bad.

The truth of it is we all like to read about moms who admit moments of unglory and tedium in parenting. It makes us all feel normal, in the widely emotional journey of parenting, where extremes are the norm.

If this trend is a bounce away from the last generation, or a response to the economy is not clear. I think it’s always been there, this reality of imperfection and toil, it’s just that blogging has given many a new voice.

But back to the idea of doing less. I’ve often pondered all the things I could be doing with my children: music lessons, gymnastics lessons, violin lessons, soccer– you name it. I see my friends doing some of these things with their kids and I wonder if I should too. And then we play for hours in the yard, or imaginary story lines take place all over my house on a rainy day. My gut says chill out. Life is short, and as soon as they start school, the pace will be forever altered. So live it now. Why do I sometime feel like I have to do something with them every second? The research is with the “chill” parenting style: wide swaths of creative play produce higher functioning, happier kids. Not that you need to worry about that: just let them play, play with them, and live in the moment. 

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