Speaking peace

logo that hopefully doesnt change colorEditor’s Note:  This post was originally published on 2/9/2015.  Written by Lysa Parker & Barbara Nicholson, API cofounders and coauthors of Attached at the Heart  — this article captures the essence of Attachment Parenting, and this year’s AP Month 2016 theme, “Nurturing Peace: Parenting for World Harmony.”

We often reflect on whether or not API has made a difference in our efforts toward peace. API isn’t about promoting just parenting strategies: We have a broader long-term vision we have often described as “peaceful parenting for a peaceful world.”

We are living in a time in history that is both grave and great.

I heard a commentator say once that “stumbling into peace is better than rushing to war.” That is not a strategic plan for peace, and we know that governments and nations are less likely to make that a priority. It is the citizens, each and every one of us, who will create lasting change.

We know that, like punishment, war provides temporary results. So, as our world goes through its painful transformations, we continue to do the work of peace each and every day in our homes. We tend to want to have a quick fix, but the most lasting and effective peace will take generations.

Those of us involved with API do so because we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and to have an anchor in our own lives to help us transform, to undo our own negative internal programming, to learn to live — and speak — peacefully.

1286508_dandelion_weed_or_wonderIn a real sense, we are pioneers in creating a new paradigm in parenting and living.

It isn’t easy, and as we learn, we will make mistakes. But from those mistakes come wisdom. We can’t let our mistakes immobilize us, but let us look at those times as opportunities to understand ourselves. Our support group community provides us with a net of safety to share, to be validated and supported.

API Support Groups are a foundational community for practicing peace, with our children and each other. These communities provide the opportunity to practice and engage in the language of peace: Nonviolent Communication (NVC).

This language style has and continues to teach me so much. I wish I had known about NVC when my children were small. Still NVC benefits me as an adult, both in talking to my grown children and other adults. NVC creator Marshall Rosenberg gave all of us a gift of skills that teaches us to:

  • See the need behind the behavior
  • Give us the vocabulary for our feelings and needs
  • Teaches us to use “power with” rather than “power over” our children
  • See each other’s humanness at the need level
  • Move away from punishments
  • Bring about peaceful change that begins with working on our own mindsets

Gordon Neufeld of the Neufeld Institute and Gabor Mate have also made major contributions to our understanding and skills to parent peacefully. They have taught us to look past our child’s behavior to find the unmet needs and strengthen parent-child connections.

That’s a radical departure from our culture where we feel we have to punish for every misdeed.

What we say and how we say it can make the difference between building relationships or breaking them down. We have to learn this new language of peace to accompany our actions toward peace, beginning in our own families. It is the essential component toward creating a peaceful world.

A mother’s reflections on her decision to honor her child’s spirit

girl dandelion wishI dropped off my 10-year-old daughter at the art museum for another fun, creative day of summer camp. I hovered by the Admissions Desk, watching the kids get settled in.  As part of their morning warm-up, the kids hang out in the museum’s atrium, and while they wait for their peers to arrive, they engage in free-play and stretching exercises.  Afterwards, they head upstairs to start their day creating beautiful works of art — expressing their artistic, distinctive, creative selves.

My daughter stood out from the rest of the crowd with her signature ears headband she has been sporting since she was 7 years old and bright, mismatching clothes: shorts, knee-high socks and a big, bright green beach bag she had decided was the perfect accessory even though they don’t go to the pool — who am I to argue?

She was sitting on the third step of a four-step staircase. With much enthusiasm and confidence, she pulled out a thick book from her bag and started to read. I felt a sense of profound delight in watching her: She seemed so peaceful and content. Unlike many girls her age, she doesn’t look to her right or her left for directions — she looks within herself and marches to the beat of her own drum…oh, how I love that about her! Countless adults spend their entire lives struggling to reach that place of inner tranquility. I marvel that she is already there.

I looked around and noticed that all the other kids were nearby on the platform at the top of the staircase. They were interacting with one another, playing or chatting. Not my girl — she was reading intently, oblivious to everything around her.

I thought to myself how it is apparent that she didn’t blend in with the crowd, and I felt a little tug in my stomach. Like most other parents, I wish for my kids to fit in and be socially adept. I was thinking that, during our drive back home, I should gently suggest that she socialize during the morning warm-up instead of reading a book.

I then looked to my right where my social butterfly — my 7-year-old son — was standing, and I chuckled. Here was my other child who thrives on being around his peers and playing with them…all day long! As for reading books? You may have guessed it: He is not a fan!

I had recognized that my daughter’s social barometer is different than her brother’s and perhaps most of her peers — to reach her inner balance, she needs a different ratio between “me-time” and “friends-time.” In that moment, I understood that I ought to just let her be, knowing she is a healthy, well-rounded, well-adjusted child.

I needed this reminder, because I wholeheartedly believe that as parents, we ought to honor and respect who our kids are and support the needs of their individual spirits — allowing them to be their authentic selves.

Our children are not blocks designed to fit perfectly into a designated box. They are each unique, with their own shape and characteristics. The most creative, successful people are the ones who exist and think outside of the box — heck, they may not even be aware there is a box! Conforming for the sake of “blending in” or “fitting in” is diminishing their ability to blossom and dimming the light of their soul. 

I am pleased that my daughter chooses not to blend in at times. It fills my heart with bliss to watch her shine as her beautiful soul blossoms.

Editor’s pick: A kindness movement inspired by a potato

Looking back on the last decade since becoming a parent, I can see how Attachment Parenting International (API) values — trust, empathy, kindness, joy, compassion, peace — have shaped both my personal life and my professional career.

The choices I make have stemmed from these values. Once my first baby was born, I chose to work primarily from home, despite the smaller paycheck, so that I could provide consistent and loving care. Through the years, my career has transformed into one where I only work for organizations with the same values as espoused by API, because those are the values that I want to direct my life and that which I am striving to pass down to my children.

Recently, I read a Forbes interview with Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of the 먹튀검증업체, in which he shared how his overarching value — kindness — has not only inspired his personal worldview but also a professional career of starting companies that embrace this worldview:

“Some people think I am some sort of special human being who is unusually kind. But this isn’t true at all. We all have this capacity, it’s just that we’re governed by the systems and structures in which we live and work, and by incentives and culture.”

free images com - pascal thauvinWhat governs Daniel is his father’s stories. His dad was a Holocaust survivor. He was 9 years old when World War II began and wasn’t liberated from the Dachau concentration camp until he was 15. Daniel’s dad saw many horrors, but he also witnessed amazing kindness. One story that Daniel heard many times, that really had an impact on the direction of his life, was about a German soldier who would regularly throw a potato at his father’s feet. As Daniel shared in the Forbes interview:

“This small act was a kind of lifeblood, because it highlighted a common humanity and hope even in the bleakest circumstances.”

Daniel’s father raised his son with a deep appreciation of the values of kindness, compassion and hope wrapped in a parenting approach of unconditional love and support. Daniel, in turn, has lived out his life guided by those values, both personally and professionally.

When he was 26, Daniel founded PeaceWorks, a food company with the vision of bringing together Israelis, Arabs, Turks and others in conflict regions to make and sell products from the Middle East.

Daniel went on to found 3 more companies, and probably the best known of them all is KIND. I love their snack bars!

The whole cultural foundation of KIND is kindness, but its not at all a marketing ploy, as Daniel shared in the Forbes interview:

“A lot of people see what we’re doing as antithetical to business and the competitive environment. For me, empathy is an existential question – it’s about the survival of the human race.”

free images com - john evansMoreover, Daniel has found empathy and kindness to be imperative to doing business. By understanding the motives of other people, especially during conflict, Daniel is able to reach a peaceful resolution and more productive place quicker — not to mention, that acts of kindness makes you happier.

Daniel and his KIND team make kindness the overarching theme of the workplace, also. Staff members regularly recognize one another, their friends or even strangers for their acts of kindness though email, snack giveaways, supporting various social causes, and cards to pass on to someone else.

His ultimate goal is to create a movement of balancing profit with social benefit, using KIND as a platform. But Daniel recognizes the danger of inadvertently commercializing kindness. We’ve all seen this before, such as when companies began using the word “natural” on their labels when their products weren’t truly what we, as consumers, define as natural. Daniel feels that it comes down to companies intentionally keeping kindness authentic, and that consumers can help keep companies accountable because we instinctively know the difference.

Daniel, and KIND, are continually seeking balance between being a profitable business and a movement leader, where both can reinforce one another without exploiting the other. For a business to be truly successful, it has to be able to be both economically sustainable and socially impactful. Otherwise, going back to Daniel’s view of empathy being existential, what’s the point for humanity?

 

**Potato photo source: FreeImages.com/Pascal Thauvin

**Stick figure photo source: FreeImages.com/John Evans

Nurturing peace, in our parenting and for our world

“Raising children with secure attachments and empathic hearts is essential to the future of mankind.” ~  GreatNonprofits               

Is world peace possible?

When we talk about the potential for Attachment Parenting (AP) to change the world, we are referring to a ripple effect: Our children growing up to be compassionate and empathic, becoming parents who foster secure attachments with their children, whose children then grow up to repeat the cycle of peaceful living both in and out of the home.

Just as what our society experienced with La Leche League International’s breastfeeding revolution, begun more than 50 years ago, we at Attachment Parenting International (API) hope to be looking at a different kind of society in coming generations — one where disconnection is discouraged and healthy, securely attached relationships are valued above competition and shame.

API is working every day to better support and educate parents on establishing and maintaining secure parent-child attachments. And parents are striving every day to put API’s Eight Principles of Parenting to practice in their relationships with their children.Peace cover

Many parents understand the challenge of adopting the new mindset needed to fully grasp how Attachment Parenting works. This parenting approach requires looking at the world, your child, your role as a parent and the way you live through a different lens — one that not everyone is able to see. API’s core ethos is a frame of mind that we promote as a practice: respect, empathy, compassion and reflection in thought, speech and action toward yourself and others.

We believe that parents who practice these habits of mind will tend to practice parenting in ways that resemble API’s Eight Principles of Parenting. Likewise, we believe that parents who practice the behaviors included in API’s Eight Principles of Parenting are capable and more likely to practice API’s ethos.

Once you “get” API’s ethos, Attachment Parenting can become much easier, much more “natural.” I liken it to stepping into an alternate reality of sorts. You’re able to view the world, your community, your home, your and others’ relationships in a whole new way and you can then make life choices from a point of compassion, trust, empathy and peace.

Our society tends to shy away from the concept of peace. To many, the idea of world peace is seen to be purely idealistic. We know it as the standard answer of pageant girls competing for Miss America. We also know that there are numerous ways touted to be the answer for world peace, from literacy to racial equality to democracy to certain religions. In reality, for world peace to be attainable, it must take a combination of factors from all levels of society. To many people, that may seem impossible.

Yet peace is what all of our souls crave. It is a sense of contentment, safety and security. It is a joy that doesn’t follow emotional highs and lows, that doesn’t fade when the excitement of instant gratification falls away. Peace allows us to feel centered and to find our balance quickly when we lose our equilibrium. Peace gives us a sense of purpose and control of our life’s direction. When living in peace, people have space in their lives to focus on bettering not only their lives but those around them.

But peace can be elusive. Many people simply do not know how to get to a place of peace in their lives.

For parents who come to API seeking support and education about Attachment Parenting, we offer a way. Secure attachment, promoted through API’s Eight Principles of Parenting, can help families find peace. A person whose attachment needs are met is able to think beyond the basic, day-to-day physical and mental survival and the “need” of trying to keep up with the hectic pace of society, in order to experience greater personal well-being and family enjoyment.

API is doing its part in promoting world peace. We truly believe in our mission to educate and support all parents in raising secure, joyful and empathic children in order to strengthen families and create a more compassionate world. And we truly believe in parents’ ability to do just that — to raise their children to be secure, full of joy, with the ability to empathize with and show compassion to others.

In the latest issue of The Attached Family, we explore “Nurturing Peace,” both in ourselves and our children, with features on:

  • lisa reaganConscious Living with Lisa Reagan, a member of API’s Resource Advisory Council, editor of Kindred and cofounder of Families for Conscious Living – through whom we learn about the inspiration for this issue’s cover, “the Blue Marble,” and how each of us are involved in public policy everyday of our lives just by living the choices we make…such how we choose to take parental leave after the birth of our baby
  • IMAG0486.JPGHow to talk to our children about world tragedies, why its important for our children’s development to protect them from adult concerns and what our children actually hear when parents mention starving children in Africa to try to convince their children to finish the food on their plates — by Tamara Brennan, executive director of the Sexto Sol Center
  • merynThe Dynamic of Disappearing Dads with Meryn Callander, author of Why Dads Leave – through whom we learn the generational result of disconnected parenting of boys, and how wives and partners can better support new fathers in healing their emotional wounds to be able to bond with their baby and fulfill their role in the family.
  • jane stevensACEs with Jane Stevens, founder of ACES Too High and ACEs Connection Network – through whom we learn what ACEs are, how they are just as prevalent among families in poverty as well as middle class, and how resilience-building practices such as Attachment Parenting can both heal and protect people from the consequences of ACEs.

We hope that this issue of The Attached Family will inspire your efforts to nurture peace within yourself, your family, your community and, yes, even the world.

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