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The Popular Summer Plan That's All About Privilege

There's an online movement I've seen gaining momentum in recent weeks. A call for something known as "Slow Parenting." The premise is that kids should be free to direct their summer—to play, daydream, enjoy time off with no structured activities.

It is not a new idea, but there seems to be renewed interest as the summer season approaches. Many moms I know online are pledging publicly to let their kids slow down this year and really enjoy it. My Facebook feed has been filling up with their blog posts.

I can relate to their desire to do things differently.

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On the other end of the spectrum, this is the time of year some parents have a tendency to become anxious about helping their children catch up or get ahead and gain an edge for the next school year.

The simple fact is these options are a luxury few are actually able to participate in.

This concern is often fueled by headlines that scream, "Avoid The Dreaded Summer Slide!" Just the other day I was in a Barnes & Noble and was amazed by the number of tables filled with summer workbooks. Although, sheepishly I will admit there was a time I would probably have snatched up a stack of them.

These days, I shoot for balance in the summer. I do want to slow down to a certain extent but also need to continue meeting deadlines and contributing to my family's income. Working from home affords me a certain flexibility, and at no time is that more obvious, and appreciated, than summer.

Our calendar for the coming months contains a mixture of structured activities my daughter will enjoy and unscheduled downtime we can spend as we choose. She and I have a "bucket list" of activities we'd like to engage in while school is out. We'll enjoy a family vacation with my husband as well.

We are very fortunate. The simple fact is these options are a luxury few are actually able to participate in.

Single parents and couples who both work outside the home—representing the majority of American families according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—are likely having very different discussions this time of year.

As with most things in life, the view of summertime depends on your perspective.

They may or may not have year-round childcare lined up. If there are school-aged children involved, they could be scrambling to figure out what to do for the summer and worrying about what it costs. School could be the childcare solution for much of the year. For a few months a year, that changes.

And the so-called "summer slide?" It is real. Students who experience it most tend to come from low-income families, reports Scholastic. That means those who do not have the luxury of contemplating whether to slow down or fill their child's summer schedule with fun, enriching activities.

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As with most things in life, the view of summertime depends on your perspective. I'm grateful for the choices my family has. I wish they were the norm instead of the exception. I would love for more families to have options.

But I don't know how we get there.

What does summer look like for your family? Are you happy with your options or do you wish you could approach this time of year differently?

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Image by Elizabeth Flora Ross

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