In my Silicon Valley hometown, there seemed to be only one speed for raising children: fast forward to college. Here kids are prepped for “success” (i.e. the right colleges) as soon as they can toddle to a sport or art class, if not before with nannies to assure their bilingualism. In my public high school, I saw only honors and AP (advanced placement) kids outside of classes like art and typing; we practiced our college entrance exams in English class; and 27 of us went to Stanford, and nearly an equal number went to Ivy Leagues (I don’t think I knew anyone who didn’t go to college at all).
Suggest an idea like Slow Parenting to some of the parents of my former classmates and you might be met with the question, “And where does that fit on his application?”. Before I explain how a less-hurried parenting style might actually help raise your child’s IQ score, let me explain how so many of us became hothouse parents in the first place. After all, Silicon Valley isn’t the only place in the country where parents start their kids with Mandarin lessons as 6 months.
The rise of fast parenting
In the past century, all aspects of our life- work, food, sex, sports, relationships- have sped up and parenting is no exception. Carl Honoré, chronicler of the Slow Movement, argues that we have become hurried caregivers because of a convergence of issues:
- Globalization means more competition and a perceived increase in workplace uncertainty for our offspring.
- Consumer culture has led to higher expectations for “perfect teeth, perfect hair, a perfect body, perfect vacations, a perfect home – and perfect children to round off the portrait”.
- Smaller families means more time and money to spend on each child.
- Older parents have had more time in the workplace before having kids and therefore, they tend to professionalize parenting.
With all these pressures, it’s no wonder we’ve come to treat childrearing- to quote Honoré- as a cross between “a competitive sport and product-development”. Honoré- author of the bestseller “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,”- argues that Slow parenting is not so much about speed- or lack thereof-, but about balance.