10 quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr., for peaceful parenting homes

children-valuable-resourceToday we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., the American minister-turned-civil rights activist whose legacy stretches even into the realms of parenting — if you consider that many of his quotes centered on peace and harmony can be aptly applied to homes that strive to raise their children with peace, warmth, trust, and nonviolence.

Here are 10 quotes of Martin Luther King, Jr., to keep in mind as you continue on your peaceful parenting journey:

  1. “Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash. It is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.”
  2. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a constant attitude.”
  3. “We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”
  4. “At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love.”
  5. “World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.”
  6. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
  7. “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”
  8. “Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”
  9. “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”
  10. “The time is always right to do the right thing.”

Behind closed doors

behind-closed-doors

Parents are all in the business of world peace

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How different the world could be

logo that hopefully doesnt change colorEditor’s Note:  This post was originally published on 12/4/2015. As we continue to celebrate AP Month with this year’s theme, “Nurturing Peace: Parenting for World Harmony,” this article highlights the significance and magnitude of the choices we hold as parents — in the face of darkness, we can choose light and peace for our children and, with that, change the world.

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“We’ve all got both light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

~ J.K. Rowling in her book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

San Bernardino, Paris, Chattanooga, Tunisia, Fort Hood, Lafayette, Kuwait, Colorado Springs — this short list is just a fraction of the mass shootings and terrorist activities that have occurred this year in the United States and around the world, not to mention the last few years. It is mind boggling, heart breaking and troubling to me as a parent whose goal is to raise compassionate, peaceful children. How am I suppose to do that exactly?

I try to shield my children from media splashed with coverage of these horrific events, but they hear about it anyway from conversations at school, church or the grocery store. Their school holds drills to practice in the case of a shooter. Our church prays for peace. We hear glimpses of the attacks on the radio in between songs. My daughters ask me why people are violent toward other people. My son asks me where the bad guys in the world live, so he can avoid living there when he grows up.

swirls-1170623I want to retain their deep compassion for people, even those who seem impossible to understand or love, so I talk about how there there are no “bad guys.”

We all have the choice to make good or bad decisions, and the people who do these violent acts are making choices not based on love and compassion. These people may have grown up learning poor coping skills, or they may feel lost and confused and unloved themselves, or they may be involved with a group whose beliefs are very different than ours in how we live together and resolve conflict. It doesn’t make them “bad,” though they have definitely made poor choices.

But I struggle with that reasoning inside. It’s so easy, so natural, for humans to blame. It helps us make sense of the senseless, to find closure in hard situations. I want to blame something other than “poor coping skills.” But I also know that blaming a person or a society or religious beliefs wouldn’t satisfy me, either. I have found, through my own experience, that blame can be used to keep a person from seeing the big picture. When we blame, we are reclassifying a person or belief as “bad” — in our minds — and therefore someone or something that is outside of our need to feel compassion for. We can then more easily justify our anger.

To clarify, anger isn’t “bad.” Anger can be very useful in that we know what needs to be addressed in a relationship, what crosses that boundary in our personal comfort level. But it is very possible, with unchecked anger, to be destructive toward ourselves and others. It’s an important skill to learn ourselves and teach our children to manage anger so that our thoughts, words and actions are constructive and helpful in resolution. We turn the anger — and “need” to blame — that we feel toward perpetrators of these violent incidents into a desire to find real solutions, to comfort those who grieve, to rally with others in movements toward peace.

So, it’s not enough for me — as a parent — to explain to my children that some people just make poor life choices. I want to gather with others to find ways to prevent these acts of violence. And that looks different to different people, but for me, I think all the more of API. As cliche as it may sound, I truly feel that world peace is attainable, and I feel that parenting is a major key in preventing violence.

john bowlby with richard bowlbyAccording to API Advisory Board member Sir Richard Bowlby, Bt, his father — the late John Bowlby, the father of Attachment Theory — had said that “attachment” is the scientific word for “love.”

Peace and joy are inherent in real love, and what is more pure than that? API is all about supporting parents worldwide in parenting with love, which is the most basic definition of Attachment Parenting. And if all children had the opportunity to grow up in a home focused entirely on love and peace, how different the world could be.

In reference to the Harry Potter quote above, I choose the light.

 

**Small photo (above) of Richard, as a toddler, playing with his father, Dr. John Bowlby, the researcher who developed Attachment Theory

*Large stock photo source

Families of 4th graders: An opportunity to get in a national park for free

kids at duck pond 2016As a birthday present, I took my 5-year-old son for a one-on-one date to the museum today. I surprised him with a 3D viewing of a film on the smallest creatures in the ocean.

We were the only people in the giant-screen theater, surrounded by amazing views of sea snails and clams and zooplankton. The end of the film made an appeal for viewers to care about the ocean, citing the accidental release of the lion fish coinciding with overfishing in the Caribbean for how we humans can cause great problems with what we see as minor mistakes.

It hearkened back to a series my children and I watched on National Geographic several months ago, “Racing Extinction,” during which we saw stunning evidence of humankind’s inadvertent effects on our natural world, such as how even a slight change in average sea temperature can decimate entire coral reefs.

I have long had great respect and admiration for nature, made even deeper through my Attachment Parenting (AP) journey. After more than a decade of AP, this way of relating to my children has become my way of relating overall — to other people and to the natural world. I can’t help but want to share that peace beyond my home, and a definite way I try to do this is to nurture my children’s innate curiosity and awe of the natural world.

My oldest daughter has, from the time she could talk, decided she wants to be an entomologist, to find better ways to save endangered pollinator species. My middle daughter has forever wanted to be a wildlife rescuer. And my youngest, my son, wants to save endangered species of birds. I’m excited that my children have the potential to be part of the next generation of problem-solvers in this way.

Naturally, I want to cultivate this interest. We spend a lot of time outdoors. We take the children to nature camps and on hikes in wildlife preserves. We expose them as much as we can to the people who are doing now what the kids want to do when they grow up. They have helped entomologists capture rare insects on disappearing virgin prairie, taken part in a skit on the whooping crane’s perilous migration, learned to identify invasive weeds choking sensitive waterways, done surveys on native bee numbers, and signed petitions to pass laws to better conserve monarch butterfly habitat.

Not that this can’t happen with other childhood interests, but I am a firm believer that being connected with the natural world has far-reaching benefits beyond an appreciation of nature. In this API post from Earth Day, Effie Morchi explains the myriad benefits to healthy child development.

Effie has such a passion for reconnecting children with nature. She recently brought my attention to a great opportunity: All 4th-grade students and their families can get in any U.S. national park for free through the Every Kid in a Park initiative.

I hope as many families can take advantage of this opportunity this year as possible. It’s a way to see our nation’s wildest places and help expand our children’s instinctive desire to connect — and eventually protect — our natural world.

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.