Message to Parents: Life in the Slow Lane Can Be Beautiful

At the last “Heard in Rye” workshop of the school year, held June 10 at Community Synagogue, author Carl Honoré presented his humorous and illuminating take on living life at a slower pace.

Published June 26, 2015 5:00 AM
3 min read

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book-thAt the last “Heard in Rye” workshop of the school year, held June 10 at Community Synagogue, author Carl Honoré presented his humorous and illuminating take on living life at a slower pace.

By Sarah Varney

bookAt the last “Heard in Rye” workshop of the school year, held June 10 at Community Synagogue, author Carl Honoré presented his humorous and illuminating take on living life at a slower pace.

The author of “In Praise of Slowness”, “The Slow Fix”, and “Under Pressure” has a straightforward message: Slow down your life judiciously and you will find that life is more enjoyable.

Honoré’s wake-up call to slow down his parenting style came in stages. “When it came time to read aloud to my son, it always seemed that I had one foot on the floor. I became an expert at multi-page reading, until one evening when my son said to me ‘Dad, why are there only three dwarfs?’” His second wake-up call came when he saw a woman with a book entitled “The One Minute Fairy Tale”, and thought to himself, “What a great idea!”

Another time he saw a woman in a coffee shop reading something with great intensity. His curiosity piqued, he sidled up to her and saw that she was reading an article entitled “Start Building Your Child’s Resume In The Womb”. His first reaction was “ewwww,” but his second was “hmm, maybe I should be doing that.”

Honoré maintains that seeking perfectibility in our children is a harmful strategy. “We think our job is to push, polish, and make them the best of everything. We view life in two ways: The Uber Track and Track 2. Follow the Uber Track and your child will be a great success, but should he take Track 2, heroin addiction and homelessness are sure to follow.”

Often referred to as “helicopter parenting”, or “curling parenting” in Scandinavia, parents rush ahead trying to clear the way of any obstacles or disappointments. The message to children is the same: “Don’t just do well, do very, very well”, said Honoré.

The toll this pressure takes can be seen in the increasing numbers of children who falter once they reach college. “A friend of mine who teaches on the college level tells me that when a student has a problem that needs to be discussed, he or she will often whip out a cell phone, hit speed dial, and say, ‘Why don’t you work it out with my parents?’”

According to Honoré, problem-solving skills and the capability to think deeply and creatively about the world can’t flourish in an environment where speed and adherence to a daily schedule are the priority.

The solution isn’t easy, nor is it possible to slow down our kids or ourselves instantly, says Honoré. “Make changes in small steps and enlist fellow parents. If your child’s travel soccer practice schedule makes family vacations impossible, stand up and say “No”, or quietly seek out other parents who feel the same way and band together, he advises.

Honoré admits that his own path to slowness has had its hiccups. “I describe myself as a rehabilitating hyper-parent. Resisting the virus of “hurry” coursing through our veins isn’t easy, he admits.

 

 

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