Your phrase of the day: “Curling parenting”

by DaniGirl on April 16, 2008 · 14 comments

in Life in Ottawa, Mothering without a licence

First, there were hockey moms, and then soccer moms. Some time in 2005, the term “helicopter parents” was coined to describe those parents that hover over their children. And now, a new favourite of mine, “curling parents” — those who sweep the ice in front of their children.

I only have a couple of seconds to post today, but I wanted to say something about this interesting Ottawa Citizen article about an interview with parenting writer Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slow, where I saw the “curling parents” phrase.

As I read the transcript Susan Allan’s interview, I found myself nodding along with Honoré’s ideas. He calls milestones “millstones” and advocates a return to a more laid back approach to raising children. He speaks out against the way we take it upon ourselves to make our children excel at any cost:

It’s amazing how many of the tools of hyperparenting people still believe in though it’s patently untrue and has been shown to be so. The pressure to do things in a mechanistic, measurable way takes away the joy of it. At the end of the day, this should be about joy. There’s nothing more joyous than having a child.

And this… I loved this one:

We need to give kids the space and time for their brains to develop rather than turning them into achievement automatons on a treadmill ticking one box after an another whether it’s academic or athletic or artistic. Children are not projects, they’re people.

He’s speaking tonight as part of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, and it’s free. It’s been ages since I’ve been out to a literary event, and I’m going to try to make it out to see him speak. I figure the audience will be skewed to the parenting crowd, so I can drag Lucas along with me.

What do you think? Is there hope for lazy parents like me? Is it possible for us to turn off the treadmill and make laid-back parenting the new trend?


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lucy April 16, 2008 at 7:32 am

Here, here! I’m amazed at what other mothers and even my own family have deemed to be “the norm” when parenting. It seems that in this day and age, kids aren’t allowed to grow and develop on their own time and into their own skin. Instead, society seems hell-bent on creating mini adults.

I’m glad to know there are other mothers out there who are letting their kids be kids. Letting their children discover the wonders of the world in an unobstructed and unstructured way.

2 daysgoby April 16, 2008 at 8:30 am

I love this! And I absolutely agree….. but good grief, is it hard to put in practice!

I was talking to my neighbor the other day while our kids were playing and she was telling me how her boy is taking horseback riding, and judo, and tball is starting soon – and all I could think was we weren’t going to push programs on Cass this summer but Good Lord do those sound fun, and where else is he going to meet friends….

It’s a fabulous and worthy concept, but sometimes letting them discover themselves is really hard to do.

3 lugina April 16, 2008 at 8:56 am

Yay! We’re not lazy, we’re revolutionary and cutting edge!! I love it.

4 Denise April 16, 2008 at 9:33 am

I will be interested to hear how the event went. Laid back parenting sounds like it might have its advantages.

5 Mad Hatter April 16, 2008 at 9:37 am

Ya, I’m a curling parent but only if that means slipping on the ice and falling on my ass all the time.

6 Anna April 16, 2008 at 10:43 am

I grabbed Carl Honore’s previous book “in praise of slow” a few years ago on sale for $2.99….obviously before he got hip and cool again. I saw this article too and it really jives with us. Our personal “revolution” is to avoid organized soccer for our now almost 6-year old. You wouldn’t believe the stares we’re getting when we inform people that we’re not doing soccer practice. (I guess playing soccer on our street doesn’t count).

Anyhow, I hope you go tonight. My husband is going….his turn to get out. I got to listen to Alfie Kohn speak in the fall.

7 Sheila April 16, 2008 at 12:09 pm

Very interesting. His ideas sound a lot to me like the campaign by Silken Laumann to let kids play freely in neighbourhood parks and streets.
There’s a good detailed article on Carol Honore and his book in the April 14th issue of Maclean’s, called “Free-range children”, written by Ken MacQueen. I can’t see it at the maclean’s website (yet) but they might post it in a week or two.

8 Mac and Cheese April 16, 2008 at 9:28 pm

We need more articles like that. They makes me seem less lazy.

9 jennP April 17, 2008 at 8:36 am

if this type of parenting is called lazy, then I’m all for laziness!
Even before having my daughter, I told myself i would not be the mom to put her child in everything. I saw people around me… grumpy overworked and overschedueld kids, tired parents complaining all the time about taxiing their kids to activities. I figured… that can’t be good.

I did put my child in swimming in the fall. 45 minutes once a week and that was HER choice. After about 6 sessions, she started crying and said she was too tired to go (it was after school). I did not push her. I old her it was her choice, and that i understand if she is tired. we turned around and went home.

The next season, i asked her if there was anything she wish to take, and i explained the commmitment that came with it… and she chose not to.

We are the only people you see outside every single day on our street. Most of our neighbors have a lot of classes and sports. one is 8 yrs of age and has 14 hours of gymnastics in one week… on top of schooL!
i love my life 🙂 my daughter doesn’t need to go anywhere outside of school. she is well behaved, rested, happy and friendly. All this without gym, piano, soccer, karate, etc… and i am a sane parent who doesn,t resent having to drive her all over the place!

10 Marianne April 17, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Dani, was it by any chance you whom I just heard discussing this topic on CBC radio’s phone-in show? I was listening to the radio on our way home from a playdate and I had a strange sensation of my internet bloggy world colliding with my radio and crashing through into my real life.

11 DaniGirl April 18, 2008 at 5:49 am

LOL, yes Marianne, that was me. Unfortunately. Somebody should have reminded me that if I can’t carry on a coherent conversation over coffee, I should prolly refrain from going on the radio. I had all sorts of ideas I wanted to contribute, but got totally tongue-tied as soon as they put me on!

(And I never did make it out to see Carl Honore talk on Wednesday night either. We were half way through dinner when I looked up at Beloved and said, “What time is it?” I had completely forgotten about it, up until about 20 minutes before the presentation was scheduled to start. Sigh. I hope at least a little bit of my brain comes back one of these days…)

12 Meg April 21, 2008 at 11:04 am

Really interesting. stuff.

Thing is I was raised by parents who really did not sign us kids up for much. I felt that in some ways if I had been encouraged more and supported to do activities (like get a drive there!) I would be a better soccer player, artist, gymnast, whatever.

I think it’s all about balance and going with the personality of the kid.
I have two girls-one who I could sign up for just about anything and loves to be busy. The other is really happy at home and does not like to overly participate.

But what happens when they both grow up and the one who I have not been “pushing” says hey why wasn’t I in violin lessons!

Oh the dilemma……

13 yvonne April 21, 2008 at 8:41 pm

I am all about balance. My kids love the friends they have made in (ack!) organized sports and scouting. My kids have learned to be comfortable in any setting and it is rare for them to head somewhere in our community and not run into SOMEONE they know. But you are right, the exchange is that I am doing laundry and catching up on interesting blogs at 9.40 at night but you know, I have developed some great friendships at those organized events too. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

14 annika April 22, 2008 at 9:59 am

Children deserve the chance to explore and play on their own…but also to be exposed to some organized activities, as long as it does not add stress to their already busy lives or take away from family time. I believe in a balance of the two approaches. I’ve met too many adults who were never exposed to extra curriculars as children, and therefore have no hobbies outside of watching television. Dani, you are not LAZY!!!!!!!! If you are lazy, than I am comatose.

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