Posts Tagged ‘trust’

7 Principles for Peaceful Parenting

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Is it me?? Is our world is tilting toward the brink, or are we merely witnessing normal global growing pains?

Oh how I wish the premise of my book Parenting for Peace had become obsolete in the 7+ years since it was published. But alas, the premise of my book could not be more relevant right now:

If we really want change the world, we need to raise a generation “built for peace”—hardwired at brain level with the capacities needed to foster empathic interdependence and innovative solutions in our challenged world.

At this point in human history, I guess I would dare to ask, “Why be a parent if not to try and bring a peacemaker on earth?” It might be peace through embroidery or engineering or being a CEO. Ultimately, our consciously enacted wish for our children becomes that they unfold as individuals with the heart to embrace and exemplify peacefulness, the psyche to experience joy and intimacy, the mind to innovate solutions to social and ecological challenges, and the will to enact such innovations.

That kind of human is never a genetically predetermined given, but the result of dynamic interactions between genetics and environment — with parents being the most influential environmental variable.

Yikes, that is pretty daunting, right?!

In 25 years of being a parent, a student of human development, a human in constant development, an impassioned researcher of the human sciences, and a parent counselor engaged with the challenges and triumphs of real moms and dads, I have gathered a superabundance of excellent information. But I’ve also come to recognize that one of the greatest gifts in this era of information overload is to arrive at the other side of a gazillion helpful facts to essential “nuggets” that are simplified without being simplistic.

In the spirit of today’s love of “listicles,” I offer you the seven solid-gold nuggets that beat at the heart of my book. They are informed by research in an array of fields ranging from neuroscience to theology, prenatal psychology to quantum physics.

While these 7 Principles of Parenting for Peace “accordion out” to include more basics than I have room to include here, these are the foundational principles for effective, healthy and joyful parenting.

Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for PeacePresence: This is the ability to be completely here, right now in the moment, fully engaged with all of you – your thoughts, feelings and attention. Connected. One of the greatest needs of the child is a regular dose of your undistracted presence. Try “Nothing Else” time: Sit on the floor, amidst the blocks, the books, the dolls… and be available to your child.

This is when you allow yourself to be taught by your child: curiosity, playfulness, spontaneity. If you can carve out 20 minutes, 15 minutes, even 10 minutes of this quality of presence in a day, it’s like a magic vitamin to the relationship mix – not just nourishing, but also buffering and protective against other disrupting elements of daily life. And it fosters the true self-esteem that flourishes with your child’s experience that she is worth your time, your attention, your presence.

Awareness: This includes the “book learning” part of the job – all the stuff you need to know to be effective as a parent. Essential parental awareness includes everything from “micro” details such as knowing when the last time your child ate some protein or essential fatty acids (brain food is essential for the ability to “keep it together”)… had some water… or got some sleep… to the kinds of “big picture” awareness like where your child is in the scheme of unfolding brain development, and the capacities unique to that stage. This includes knowing, for example, that a young child’s primary modes of learning are through sensing (seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and touching — indeed, lots of touching!) and doing. This understanding helps parents with a basic “discipline” issue: for a child to touch something is similar to an adult thinking about that same thing.

Another essential aspect of awareness for parents is a connected sense of our own childhood, and what parenting awakens within us in terms of our history and our story. We all travel with an entourage: us at each age we ever were! When a mother holds a baby in her arms, the baby she once was is also there, with all of the feelings she had then. Ditto the toddler, the preschooler, the kindergartner, the teen… you get the idea. This is often the biggest challenge in parenting!

Rhythm: Rhythm can be a parent’s best friend. Rhythm is one of the greatest needs of the young child, but also a fundamental human principle, often forgotten in our supercharged, 24/7 world. Young children thrive on and crave rhythmicity to their days, their weeks, even the seasons: “This is when we eat, this is when we nap, this is when we have play time… Tuesdays we go to the park, Wednesdays we go to the Farmer’s Market, Sunday we visit Grandma, and summer is beach time!”

Seems monotonous to us as adults, because we’re essentially different creatures inside our skulls. The limbic or “feeling brain” structures developing in the early years are critical to the formation of all later brain-based capacities. Rhythm’s external consistency and predictability allow the growing child to gradually internalize regulation & stability – which we now know is the foundation for all human success, including intelligence, relationships, and joy.

Example: Rudolf Steiner said that the young child is really an eye, taking in everything, registering everything, without analysis! And they imitate everything. They don’t so much hear your words, but pick up and emulate everything else.

So the question must always be, “Am I worthy of my child’s unquestioning imitation?” If you complain about chores – even just in the way you make the gesture of doing the chore – it will be emulated (perhaps not right away, but years from now). So, for example, take care that the books you read to your little one also interest you; if I read to my child forcing myself to do it, I shouldn’t be surprised later by his avoidance of reading! Also, careful about taking pleasure in matter-of-factly criticizing friends, acquaintances, politicians. By contrast, children learn important lessons from our striving to elevate our inner selves. Children take our cues about everything from our example, and become our most exquisite mirrors. Be (or strive toward) the noble qualities you dream of for your child!

Nurturance: This is the practical demonstration of love, the giving of ourselves to the other: how we cuddle them, feed them, smile at them. Everything is an opportunity for nurturance of your children, from how you choose their toys and books, their clothing, the colors for their rooms, what to feed them, even the attitude you hold while preparing their meals! Beauty, reverence, a sense of awe—these are all important ways of nurturing the young child.

And, how we discipline, keeping in mind that humans of all ages are always either in “growth or protection” mode, and that harsh reprimands – including the popular exile of “Time Out” – elicit defense/protection mode physically and psychologically, which is counterproductive on all mind/body levels. This doesn’t mean we never say “no” or set limits, but that we repair the ruptured relationship after a break happens.

Trust: It’s the most potent anti-anxiety secret, and perhaps the most subversive act on this list. Everything in our consumerist culture teaches us that we’re not quite enough, but something we can purchase will make up for our lack – like the myriad “educational” techno-gizmos marketed at anxiously devoted parents. Together with the other six principles, trust is an antidote for this anxiety. When I have a new rose that is just budding in my garden, do I tinker with the petals, or do anything with that flower to “optimize” it? No, I enrich and fertilize the soil that the rose is growing in, and I trust in the process of Life unfolding. I also trust that the rosebush can weather storms without me over-sheltering it!

Simplicity: It is the portal to joy, and joy lies at the very foundation of health, well-being and peace. Definitely with a child younger than 6 or 7, but also with older kids, the more we can simplify life, the more peace we will have in the home and woven into the fabric of the child’s developing brain; it becomes a feedback loop.

The child’s deepest need is to be seen and known. Simplifying daily life helps that to happen more: “When we overbook, we overlook.” Research has found that just simplifying dramatically reduces symptoms of clinically diagnosed ADHD. Cultivating a sense of wonder and imagination helps guarantee simplicity, because then everything becomes something amazing: wind through the trees is fairies dancing… a piece of wood becomes an alligator or a doll… a spoon becomes a great flag or a king’s scepter. Then we don’t need to constantly purchase things. And a child – or parent – who can imagine is on a path toward unlimited horizons.

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…)

Feeling Stalled… Blah… Lifeless?

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Depending on where you live, here comes that season when we’re reminded to trust that even the most dead-looking thing may have vibrant life brewing inside.

This speaks strongly to me: occasionally in the past year, I have felt worried or discouraged about how “unproductive” I was. The pace I had set for growing the wings of Parenting for Peace and spreading it ever more widely had seemed to slow to an idle. Important P4P projects and programs loitered in the waiting rooms of my imagination.

What happened to the fire in my belly? Where went my ambition to send P4P soaring throughout the world?? When those questions would come nipping at the edges of my psyche, I did my best to engage P4P Principle #6, TRUST — trust that all was well in the big picture, and reasons for the “stasis” would reveal themselves within a meaningful context at some point.

This is how it goes in parenting… intimate relationships… and in almost every aspect of your child’s unfolding. There are cycles of lulls and leaps throughout. Ebb and flow. We do well to abide, and to trust.

Trust the Lulls of Life

In musing on this, it occurs to me — remember how things looked during the early weeks of your child’s growth in the womb? From the outside, I mean. Other than maybe frequent dashes to the toilet (thank goodness I was spared active nausea!), things looked pretty much… same old same old. Nothin’ much happening.

And yet the most momentous things were happening unseen, deep inside. Like in the branches of that tree above! Life was at work, invisibly weaving an unfathomably intricate series of cellular events with miniscule error margins in timing, placement, and motion. (Reflecting upon embryonic development is a great antidote for those times when I feel like I’ve got to steer the ship of my life and control the ocean tides as well!)

There are times when inner streams of growth require so much energy and life force that there isn’t much left for outer streams of “doing-ness.” Things seem stagnant, sometimes frighteningly so. There’s the ebb.

Our culture doesn’t much celebrate the ebb. It’s all about flow — go, go, go, no matter how un-flowish you’re feeling. But when we can respect the natural ebbs… and trust in the cycles of Life… we invite in the most robust flows.

If you’re feeling like something is inexplicably lifeless or stalled out in your life, you might find my little riff during a recent call with Coaching & Care Circle members to be encouraging:

 

Are there places in your life that feel blah or like things just aren’t happening the way you were hoping / expecting / planning? If so, try out this mantra: Abide, and trust.
My wish for you is to rejoice in the whispery hints of Life’s unstoppable power working everywhere, even when you can’t quite see or make sense of it.

HeartCoral

Meanwhile, if there are patterns of behavior your child may need a bit of “gentle nudging” to flow beyond, be sure to grab your  free copy of my “7-Step Guide: Helping Your Child Release Stuck Behaviors” ebooklet  up there! RedArrowShortUpRT

Or go here to find it. This is a unique, powerful tool for parents to use with children of all ages!

 

Got Trust? The Antidote for Insecurity & Stress

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

One fundamental intention in parenting for peace is to foster trust and hope within your child from the very beginning. When we nurture trust in our children’s souls, it can unfold into an unending arc of confidence — in themselves, in you, in their fellow humans, in Life.

By trust I mean a calm reliance upon things that you cannot necessarily perceive much less control. (What a quaint notion in this era when we can perceive pretty much everything by virtue of our many technological devices!)

Insecurity, the antithesis of trust, carries a scent akin to fear — it repels and undermines the connection and collaboration required to be a person of peace and innovation. By contrast, trust is the great attractor; it is possible to tame the most powerful forces simply with deep and abiding trust.

Spring Simplicity Series

But how do we foster trust within our children if we ourselves suffer from a drastic lack of trust? After all, our children learn mostly from how we are rather than things we say. Here are a few tried and true ways to fill your inner reservoir of trust. {Read more at mothering.com}

How to Trust in a Wired World

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

How to Trust in a Wired World | Marcy Axness PhDAlong with a good supply of onesies, I routinely counsel expectant parents to stock up on trust. Parenting is a daunting safari into the unknown, and trust is the anxiety antidote when life outruns the reach of our techno-savvy that has us convinced we can figure out and control everything in our lives.

I define trust as “calm reliance upon processes outside of your immediate perception and control,” and 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. (more…)

What Impairs Attachment, and Who Repairs Attachment?

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

What Impairs Attachment?

What Impairs Attachment, and Who Repairs Attachment?A big pet peeve of mine is the label “attachment disorder.” This is a diagnosis given to kids who have typically experienced severe disruption in the natural order of what should have been the effortless, instinctual connection we’re designed to make from the very beginning. They were prepared at the level of their brains, their hormones and their entire sensing organism to connect, to be skin-to-skin with oxytocin flowing and weaving the powerful bonding foundations for healthy attachment. They expected to connect.

Many children with the most severe cases of “attachment disorder” had this expectation crushed in the most primal way. Can you think of a time when you were totally, ecstatically primed for a connection and it for whatever reason did not happen? Or it happened and then went away without warning or explanation? I’m speaking here of a romantic situation. Remember the disappointment, the deflation of your entire being? Now take that feeling and multiply it by an order of magnitude of a thousand. Ten thousand. As if there was nothing to you but that deflation, that floor pulled out from beneath you. As if the floor pulled out from beneath you was you. (more…)

Raising Secure Kids in a Scary World: Talking to Children About Tragedy

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Eleven years since 9/11.

Eleven years ago last night, our daughter Eve — then ten years old — was so excited that the next morning she was going to wake up by herself for the very first time, using the radio alarm clock we had given her for the occasion. She chose the station carefully (classical was it? maybe soft pop?), but when the radio clicked on at six a.m. in her Los Angeles bedroom it wasn’t music that woke her up. The second plane had just hit its target. Nobody yet had clarity on what was happening, let alone the news media. A fragmented noise skein of unfathomable facts, disbelief, sorrow, and fear came out of the radio that morning. {Read the rest of this post at mothering.com}

A Sober Look at Neonatal Care ~ Foundations of Violence?

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

With barbeque grills across the country barely cooled off from Father’s Day, I’m reflecting on the pre-release screening I attended last week of Janel Mirendah’s film The Other Side of the Glass — a birth film for and about fathers. Its chilling glimpse of hospital neonatal care protocols has important implications for the idea of raising a generation of peacemakers.

The U.S. mentality for every problem is to go to war: the war on poverty, the war on cancer, the war on drugs, the war on child abuse, the war on terror, begins with the experience of birth imprinted in our neural system. –Janel Mirenda, filmmaker

To read more of this post, please see it at mothering.com.