Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids
by Naomi Drew
Softcover, 272 pages
reviewed by Edith O'Nuallain
Greystones County Wicklow Ireland
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 3, May-June 2005, pp. 122-123
Parents want to encourage the optimal emotional, spiritual, physical, and intellectual development of their children. They may strive to parent differently from the way they themselves were brought up. Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids by Naomi Drew suggests many ways to help children in all these dimensions, but from a somewhat different perspective than the usual advice book. Ms. Drew is a recognized specialist in peacemaking and conflict resolution in public education settings. In this book, she has adapted her methods for parents.
The author focuses on peacemaking skills from deep relaxation exercises to approaches to conflict resolution and anger management. She presents a step-by-step guide that she refers to as "The 17 Keys to Peaceful Parenting." Practicing these techniques makes responses to a range of daily challenges feel more normal and natural. She also encourages parents to role-play various situations with their children so that they are able to use peacemaking techniques effectively in real life.
The word "techniques" may sound structured, but this book is definitely not that. Readers are advised to personalize Drew's methods by using a journal to explore thoughts and feelings about various topics. Parents are asked to identify priorities, values, and standards in order to develop their own "Guidelines for a Peaceful Family." The journaling exercises continue throughout the book and are an integral part of the process. When you buy this book, you might want to purchase a journal at the same time!
The author's first key to peaceful parenting is "Peace begins with me." To generate a deep sense of inner peace, parents can practice a number of wonderful daily relaxation exercises, including breathing deeply, visualizing, simplifying lifestyles, and making room for self-nurturing. After becoming attuned to the underlying rhythms of peace within ourselves, we are ready to behave in a more openhearted, kind, and compassionate manner toward our families.
The next stage begins when daily interactions with children are marked by a new tone of kindness and respect. This new attitude opens our eyes to the many positive behaviors displayed by our children that are often overlooked because we are focused on the negative.
Another key is the importance of daily interaction with each child. It is essential to spend at least 15 to 20 minutes with each child and to give our complete attention. The author implores parents to remember that children will not be children forever. When these days are gone, they cannot be replaced or changed. This book helps to identify our priorities and move toward more conscious parenting.
Drew also explains that it is important to teach children peacemaking attitudes and techniques so that they, too, can live peacefully and effect change. A regularly scheduled family meeting is the principal teaching tool for this. Methods and techniques can be discussed and personalized for each individual. Then behavior guidelines, based on mutual agreements, are drawn up and posted for everyone to see.
The way we parent has repercussions that extend far beyond our own front doors. What the author calls "The Hierarchy of Peace-making" stretches from the individual to neighborhoods, communities, countries, states, continents, and ultimately, the world. With such an awesome responsibility, parents must choose to begin to work toward peace. Our visions of parenting can be broadened to embrace all the children of the world. Reading this book could be an important step on the road to peace.