Why I Love the Idea of Slow Parenting

After reading this post in the Boston Globe, I realized that this “thing” I could easily describe to friends and family actually has a name: slow parenting.

These lines from the article really stuck with me:

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 2.38.06 PM.pngI encourage parents to take some time to just watch their children, whether they are playing, doing homework, or eating a snack,” Duffy says. “Take a moment to drink them in. Remember and remind yourself how remarkable your children are. That pause alone, even if momentary, can drive a shift in the pace.

Unplugging from electronics and social media and heading outside is a great way to reconnect with your family, says David Elkind, a child psychologist and professor at Tufts University. “Life has gotten more demanding with technology. Get outside, smell the roses, look at the stars. Play ball in the yard or some other game. Kids can learn so much about people and themselves by simply playing games with their family.”

Parents, Contey points out, also reap benefits from getting out into the fresh air. “When you’re inside the house, it’s really tempting to hop on the computer or get involved in chores. When you’re out in nature, it’s an automatic reset that helps us click back into ourselves.”

I am such a big believer in this idea – even if it just means taking a walk around the park pointing at trees, the leaves rusting or birds chirping overhead, listening to the river crash against the moss-covered rocks. I can’t wait to take Liam to the farms upstate when he’s a little bit older, help him pick his first piece of fruit right from a branch – tell him to make a wish under the shade of the trees as he inhales its sweet aroma.Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 3.15.58 PM.png

It’s so important to stop once in a while and really look, really listen, not just rush past the little things.  How else are our children supposed to see how beautiful nature really is?

I like to let Liam take the lead – point to the things he wants to discover or observe a little closer, a flock of geese, a tree trunk. I love seeing the excitement on his face when I let him place his palm against the bark.

As moms, we all feel compelled to join as many baby classes as possible only to spend countless hours in the car rushing to and from them. These are not quality moments with our kids – they’re rushed, stressed, distant. I feel it in my core that it’s not the way I want to raise Liam – it’s not “connected”, and even I feel anxious doing them. I can tell that Liam’s favorite moments are those that are measured, gentle, and calm – whether I’m reading him a book right before bedtime or telling him a story as we walk together.

I don’t want my son to sit in front of the TV all afternoon like many kids unfortunately do these days, but instead get his knees dirty and his lungs full of fresh air. That’s the kind of childhood I’m thankful I had, without much (if any) technology… Chasing my seven dogs around all day, jumping in rain puddles with both feet, climbing trees and playing pretend. My mind was full of magical stories.


I want Liam to be curious about the world he lives in and discover it in all of its glory.

I want him to love it so much he tries to cup it between his hands.

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 3.18.02 PM.png

I wonder if it’s possible to imagine such a childhood in our world as we know it today…

But the least we can do is try.

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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

2 thoughts on “Why I Love the Idea of Slow Parenting

  1. Yes, exploring the great outdoors is the best education for our little ones (and not so little ones).

    I always join my tween for the nighttime dog walk, and spend park time with my younger girl. Every weekend we are hitting the beach, park or trail.

    Outdoor activities were a big part of my childhood, and a legacy I want my girls to continue.

    Liked by 1 person

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