You may have heard of the “slow parenting” movement, which, I think, is a response to micromanaging parents who schedule “play dates” for their children and put them into every extracurricular activity from piano practice to soccer to underwater basket weaving. Although I’m not a parent myself I suspect the micromanaging parent is largely a myth–like the babysitter who cooks the baby in the microwave it’s a hilarious story and is something we all think could happen, but has probably been exaggerated. As for “slow parenting”, as I understand it it’s all about trying to find that perfect balance between letting kids learn and explore on their own and being there to catch them when they fall. I think the proper term for that is parenting.
Obviously there are a huge number of books about parenting, but here’s a great one you can share with your kids: Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do).
If you’re afraid of letting your kids do some of these things, there is a Why section in the back that’s very concise and helpful. For #42, “Break the Recipe Rule Book”, for instance, the explanation is,
Baking is a science that tolerates a lot of mistakes. Making up your own recipe is a great way to get comfortable in the kitchen. A spectacular disaster or serendipitous success will only encourage more experiments.
Some of the explanations aren’t quite so clear-cut, though. Here’s the one for what is my favorite thing in the entire book, #36, “Poison Your Friends”:
Choosing who among your friends to trick forces us to think about what friendship is and what it means. Dealing with the aftermath of the breach of trust may require sincerity, thoughtfulness, and patience.
There are also some very serious, very important lessons to be learned from poisoning your friends, and reading this kids may understand that there are very broad implications to any actions. Parents can teach responsibility, but teaching anything is more effective if it’s given a practical implication. This also teaches a lesson in empathy, in putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Of course the downside of all this is that it almost takes the fun out of something like poisoning your friends.