Parenting for Peace: Raising the Next Generation of Peacemakers, Marcy Axness, PhD (2012). Boulder, CO, Sentient Publications. 434 pages, ISBN 978-1591811763
Parenting for Peace is a timely and necessary book for the world's troubled times, but at the same time, it's nothing less than an adventure into exciting new findings that compel us to explore and reinvent ourselves, and raise peaceful and peacemaking children in the process.
Parenting for Peace guides parents at all stages from pre-conception through adolescence. At every step of the way, and with substantive evidence, Axness describes what is happening in the underworld of the body and brain, and how the central nervous system and neurophysiology are wired at every stage of development to promote protection or growth, violence or peacefulness.
...heartened by the promise of simple principles backed by leading-edge research, parents can feel confident in their ability to raise children who are 'hardwired for peace'.
The book is a thorough solution to violence because peacemaking relations between parents and children create the inner conditions where violence can not exist in the first place, nor ever take hold. But peace and peacefulness are much more than the absence of violence. Peacemaking children are nonviolent to be sure, but they possess essential qualities of empathy, self-regulation, self-esteem, curiosity, imagination—they are personally and socially aware and responsible, in tune with their own unique natures. They are equipped for innovative success in a changing world.
Axness acknowledges that despite the inherent simplicity of her approach, the journey is not always easy, and she is gracious and tenacious in describing her own challenges with motherhood. As it was for her, the process for some parents becomes a "hero's journey" with challenging lifestyle shifts, meaningful encounters with the psyche, and sometimes difficult recurrences of childhood memory, but ultimately accompanied by resolve and joy at the end—perhaps akin to bliss. Axness invites parents to cultivate a deep trust in nature's plan, and suggests ways in which they can support and facilitate (rather than thwart) the unfolding of their children's unique magnificence.
For each stage she provides practical exercises in parenting, self-experiences in human consciousness, mental exercises to stretch perceptions, affirmations to alter negative belief systems, thought-provoking anecdotes to inspire change, and enlightening vignettes to bring about an understanding of what peacemaking is all about. In the end, one longs for and strives to be the kind of parent that Axness envisions, and we are forever renewed, inspired and changed by the experience.
Have I said how much I loved this book, and how much it has changed my life? Just reading through a stage called 'The Enchanted Years', which I didn't personally experience, provided a model for parenting that changed my inner child and rewired some of the desolation I encountered during those years. Other stages of the book had similar effects. I can't recommend this book enough. It was a pleasure to read, and it provides essential information for being and becoming more peaceful and enlightened parents and human beings.