Archive for the ‘Parenting for Peace’ Category

Digital Mastery: Parents, You Have the Power!

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace My main concern in this exploration is the effect of digital dependence upon our social intelligence. You see, fostering robust development of the brain circuitry responsible for social intelligence is a key focus of Parenting for Peace. Self-regulation and inner mastery are key themes in this endeavor of raising a generation of peacemakers.

From where we sit in today’s volatile world aswirl in disasters both natural and manmade, these words from the early pages of my book are chillingly relevant:

Many fields of research tend to affirm that we humans are indeed at a crucial moment in our evolution, and our survival is going to depend upon our realizing, deeply, that our true security is rooted in connectedness, in our relationships, in healthy interdependence with our fellow humans and with our natural environment.

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for PeaceWe are designed — right down to our neurobiology! — to be in close contact with other humans, and to our natural world… and yet our most coveted technological wonders… these tiny devices barely larger than a deck of cards… are undermining our natural instincts and even our ability to be with others or in nature.

The quiet pleasures of the natural world and the slow pace of unmediated, tech-free human conversation have been eclipsed for many by the whiz-bang instantly-gratifying stimulation — and the accompanying dopamine — provided by the accelerated, exaggerated intensity of online engagement. Before long, nothing else will do. But the cruel irony, as mounting mental health statistics illustrate, is that these preferred “new and improved” interactional pastimes leave our instinctual need for interaction unmet. And we suffer.

Be Your Own Boss, Cultivate Mastery

I think it has become clear over these past months’ of posts that our digital devices have the power to influence the circuitry of our brains… if we allow it to happen. Remember that funny toddler saying, “You’re not the boss of me!”? If not for yourself, then for the sake of your children’s deep, lifelong wellbeing, I encourage you to embody the spirit of that declaration when it comes to your own digital devotion.

At the end of her sobering Atlantic Monthly article about how smartphones are (mostly negatively) affecting today’s young generation (spotlighted in my last WW post), psychologist Jean Twenge ends with a simple prescription: “Some mild boundary-setting could keep kids from falling into harmful habits.”

Let’s begin that with ourselves as parents, as teachers, as adults to whom children look. The same neurobiological design that wants us to be in connection with other humans made it so that the most potent means of learning is through watching the example of elders. My dear colleague Laura reminds us of how this might inform (reform??) our digital devotion and inspire mastery over our choices: Modeling digital mastery for children

The Power of Example: Mirroring Mastery

One big challenge is that everywhere we look, digital dependence is modeled, encouraged and abetted. Images like this one, normalizing a family completely entranced by screens — a screen for each person — surround us!

I tackle this whole ball of wax in my “5 Tools” program, and here’s an excerpt (from Tool #5, The Mirror). I struck me as relevant to include here. This 2 1/2-minute clip highlights the how technology, attachment and social intelligence are inextricably connected. A simple yet effective way to begin some “mild boundary-setting” is with these 2 great guidelines for digital mastery.

Start there. Start anywhere.

Does Siri Thwart Social Intelligence?
Hands Free Mama

If you’re interested in my “5 Parenting for Peace Tools for Transforming” program, you can get all the info here. Because I’m currently in the process of moving the course over to my new teaching home at New Earth University, it is temporarily being offered at a crazy-low, “bargain basement” price!

Mom & daughter photo by London Scout on Unsplash
Family image from Earthlink webmail

Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

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Digital Dependence: Is the Smartphone Generation Ruined?

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace Today I’m spotlighting an essential article about the current smartphone generation in the September issue of The Atlantic: “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The author* is Jean Twenge, a psychologist who studies generational characteristics and the influences that have created significant differences between generations.

[*I forgive her the doomsday title, since she most likely didn’t write it; usually it’s the editorial department who crafts a title that will grab readers.]

Dr. Twenge actually played a key part in Parenting for Peace: though not in the actual book, I referenced her important work in my book proposal. A book proposal is a booklet-length document carefully crafted to make a case that convinces a publisher that your book is even worth publishing. Here is a passage from my (never before published) book proposal, back when my working title (little-known P4P trivia) was Raising Generation PAX: (more…)

Digital Dependence: A (Funny) Picture’s Worth 1000 Bloggy Words

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Today’s a quickie, as I’ve just returned from a week on the other coast, celebrating my son’s 30th birthday. I’m leaning upon BoredPanda today, and their “20 Satirical Illustrations Show Our Addiction to Technology.”

This one’s called “Modern Tan.”


Make no mistake — some of these are hard-hitting and downright chilling. They quite brilliantly push us to think in different ways about our digital dependence and what I may be doing to us.

I’d love to hear if you have a favorite — do please post in Comments. (As for me, I’m a sucker for a cartoon from the New Yorker… and there’s one of those on the first page. I’m also partial to #2, #5 and #7.) See what you think!


Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

Stay in the Wired Wednesdays Loop:

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Birthing & Vaccines: Are We *REALLY* Independent?

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Birthing & Vaccines: Are We *REALLY* Independent? | Marcy Axness, PhD

Anyone with a pulse and a Facebook feed knows that America is a country painfully divided — about our leadership, our economy, our values and place in the world. We’re also deeply divided over our beliefs about how to birth, raise, and educate our children… and keep them healthy in the process. Believe me, aside from the current political situation, few topics generate more polarization at a friendly backyard barbecue than epidural risks or mandated vaccines.

I don’t mean to be a buzz-kill, truly I don’t. It’s just that I made this pact with myself, on behalf of the wellbeing of mothers and babies: I decided several years ago to run a not-so-celebratory, sobering article every year on America’s birthday, as long as our country continues to show up so poorly in world rankings on maternal health.

(Settle in, grab a cuppa, this is not a breezy, 3-minute listicle. It’s important, historic, and deserves all the words it takes.)

Vaccination Nation?


Digital Dependence: Is This Legislation a Solution?

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Wired-Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

Concern over the effects of digital dependence is clearly something you share with me if you’re following these posts. One of the most pressing of these concerns is how it impacts the rapidly-developing brain circuitry of children and adolescents, and can impair and rewire their capacities for social intelligence. (See 1st and 4th posts in the list below.)

Recently it was announced that an action group in Colorado is introducing an initiative to ban cell phone sales to children under the age of 13. You can find many articles about it via Google, but for now, here is Salon’s take.

And…. go!

My idea here is to throw open a discussion, even if it’s just inside your own head. Better yet, bring it up at the dinner table or around the pool. How do you react as you read about this activist’s efforts? Are there points that resonate with you? Points on which you disagree or would push back? Do you have alternative ideas for tackling the real concerns raised?

I think it’s an important exercise to get ourselves thinking along these lines. Digital Dependence (and all the effects that go along with it) is mostly uncharted territory. This group’s efforts may or may not be as graceful, nuanced or feasible as can be, but they probably are the first of many attempts to rein in what feels like a runaway situation. (Take a look at one of the comments following the article–an amusing, if chilling, comparison of it to Pandora’s box.)

For your reading convenience, here are current Wired Wednesday posts:

Digital Dependence: Is the Smartphone Generation Ruined?

A (Funny) Picture is Worth 1000 Bloggy Words

Digital Dependence & Parental Anxiety: Keeping Trust Alive

Digital Dependence & Social Intelligence: Is Siri Dumbing Down our Humanity?

Taming Tech to Protect Sleep: A No-Brainer for Healthy Brains

Digital Mastery Tools for Parents: Slow Tech & iRules

Brain Hacking: Hijacking You from the Inside

Attention Deficits & Digital Devotion: 2 Pitfalls for Parents

“Don’t Use Your Device When…”: 2 Great Guidelines for Digital Mastery

Digital Imitation of Life: How Facebook is Like a Box of Donuts

Dataclysm in the Time of Alone Togetherness: Authors on Our Digital Dependence

Pained in Plain Sight: Digital Dependence Effects on the Body


Whether you’re curious, captivated or concerned about our digital dependence and device devotion, join me on (most) Wednesdays so we can explore it together. (Sign up here if you want to be sure not to miss anything!) ….. …..

Stay in the Wired Wednesdays Loop:

I’ll Notify You About New Posts

Digital Dependence & Parental Anxiety: Keeping Trust Alive

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Digital Dependence, Parental Anxiety and Trust | Marcy Axness, PhD
Parenting is a daunting safari into the unknown. It is a safari that will routinely lead you beyond the reach of the techno-savvy that has us convinced we can figure out and control everything in our lives. So for many, it’s a safari into parental anxiety.

What can you do about parental anxiety? Develop your own personal anxiety antidote: TRUST. A powerful antidote for parental anxiety, trust connects you to an unparalleled source of strength, paradoxically called “surrender”–perhaps the most important resources in your parenting toolbox! Along with a good supply of onesies, I counsel expectant parents to invest in and actively build their “trust fund.”

I define trust as “calm reliance upon processes outside of your immediate perception and control”; it is one of the seven principles that weave through my book Parenting for Peace. For those of us weaned on the information revolution, trust is probably the most subversive P4P principle of them all. When it isn’t overwhelming us, our instant access to infinite amounts of data on any topic has us convinced that by virtue of our techno-savvy, we can indeed figure out and be in charge of every aspect of our lives.

But Life will always manage to outrun your techno-management, trust me.

Prevent Parental Anxiety: Build Your “Trust Fund”

Begin now, I tell new parents, to cultivate a fond taste for mystery and the unfathomable. (more…)

How to Love Your Child’s Summer Vacation, Pt. 2

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

In yesterday’s post I proposed the first three of five tips to help you with summer vacation activity ideas. These are meant to ease your mind and equip you with helpful ideas if you’re one of many parents wondering how you’re going to fill the vast expanses of hot days with “bored” kids… retain your sanity… make it fun and nourishing for all… and maybe even stumble upon some calm, confidence and joy in the process. (What a concept!)

I covered:

  • How to avoid one of the most common pitfalls when transitioning to summer vacation
  • Why “boredom” isn’t lethal to your children ~ just the opposite!
  • Ways to use summer as a “refueling zone” ~ nourishing presence & connection

Today, onward! (more…)

How to Love Your Child’s Summer Vacation

Friday, May 26th, 2017

How to Love Your Child's Summer Vacation | Marcy Axness, PhD

Along with your child’s school summer vacation, the summer season itself brings many natural cues to slow down: the warmth, the longer days (more time = less need to do things fast), and the luscious grass or warm sand that beckons, Lie down!

But the approach of summer can also strike terror in the hearts of parents. Are you quietly (or not-so-quietly) dreading your child’s school summer vacation — wondering how you’re going to fill the vast expanses of hot days with “bored” kids? How you’re going to stick to your values about screened media, while retaining your sanity? Oh, and by the way, hopefully enjoying some semblance of calm and enJOYment?!

Here are five guidelines to help you not just survive summer, but actually cultivate more ease & harmony as you “wire” yourself and your children for joy & wellbeing in the coming year! (more…)

Digital Dependence & Social Intelligence: Is Siri Dumbing Down Our Humanity?

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Is our technological wizardry with its infinite stream of instant answers eroding what makes us most human? Is digital dependence undermining our social intelligence?

During my strolls through Costco, a persistent thought comes to me (besides yum, those pizza samples are good):  If I were an evil genius wanting to erode the nutritional intelligence of a civilization, this would be a good first step: induce mass consumer hypnosis via the big-box store. (Will return to this point in a bit.)

During my infrequent strolls down streets with actual pedestrians, a persistent question comes to me: How will our culture’s mass digital dependence affect this generation’s social intelligence?  (more…)

Taming Tech to Protect Sleep: A No-Brainer for Healthy Brains

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017


Whenever you want to make healthier choices, like going on a diet, the most successful strategy is to focus on the benefits and yumminess of what you can have, rather than on what you’re giving up. It’s true with food, and it’s true with tech. Zeroing in on specific priorities, like to protect sleep, is going to make it much easier to tame your digital devotion into healthier balance—and by extension, establish healthier tech habits in your children.

Protect Sleep, The “Royal Cradle of Growth”

Sleep is Nature’s own simple treasure, offered to us nightly free of charge, and yet we frequently shine it on in favor of all manner of other trivial pursuits. And we suffer for it.

The list of reasons to protect sleep is long. And it’s full of things that impact very important features of lifelong health—many of them related to your brain. Protect your sleep and your children’s, and Life will thank you many times over with vitality that cannot be duplicated by any other means.

A Simple Way to Protect Sleep

Here’s psychiatrist (and a longtime mentor in the field of attachment neurobiology) Dan Siegel with a 2-minute crash-course in why you want to get in the habit of turning off your smartphone or tablet an hour or two before bed. (more…)