World peace begins with peace at home
Recently, Queen Noor of Jordan graced Aspen with her inspiring vision for peace in the Middle East. As she sensibly presented her proposal, I was struck with the similarity of her ideas to those I have been teaching in parenting classes for more than a decade. Recently, Queen Noor of Jordan graced Aspen with her inspiring vision for peace in the Middle East. As she sensibly presented her proposal, I was struck with the similarity of her ideas to those I have been teaching in parenting classes for more than a decade. Like myself and most parents, you probably struggle with the best way to address turbulent world events – especially war and terrorism – with your children. Here’s one approach that actually ripples out to create more peace in the world. Begin by thinking of all the words you would use to describe terrorists. The adjectives I hear most often are: demanding, inflexible, fanatical, cruel, calculating, hateful, angry, shortsighted, selfish and power-hungry.Now take a breath and consider this:Nearly every parent has been guilty of similar harsh tactics – but worse, we have done them to our children. If I were to be tried tomorrow as a terrorist in my own living room, I would be guilty of many of these descriptions and chances are you would face a number of these charges as well. How can we discuss peace if we don’t live it?When you think about world events, chances are you feel helpless, powerless, hopeless, fearful and sad … the very emotions our children feel when we act like tyrants. Instead of fearing terrorist activity and leaving the solution to world leaders, we can begin in our own homes and gain a sense of control. Here are three ways to do that:Step 1: Create a “Happy Parent List” and follow it every day. Sometimes the harshness in our words and actions is the result of feeling too hungry, too angry, too lonely, or too tired. Write down five things you need each day to keep you in balance. These might include prayer or meditation, three balanced meals, exercise, talking with friends – whatever it is that brings more steadiness and peace to your world. Then follow your list.Step 2: Become aware of your power patterns. Most of us felt overpowered as children, yet we tend to parent the way our parents did, or go to the opposite extreme (i.e. permissiveness). Which patterns are you repeating? Once you notice them, take whatever steps you need to heal. This may involve reading, therapy or taking a parenting class. Step 3: Understand your child’s core needs. To feel safe and to thrive, children need to feel powerful, heard, important and loved. When we talk over them or down to them or belittle them in any way, we violate these core needs. To better understand and connect with your child, change your question from, “Why is she misbehaving?” to “What need is my child asking me to meet right now?” Gandhi said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” If you follow these practices, you will embody the peace that you long for and that peace will transfer to your children, which they will bring into their worlds as well. Thank you for the reminder, Queen Noor: Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.Vickie Falcone, YouthZone Parenting coordinator, speaks nationally and is the author of “Buddha Never Raised Kids and Jesus Didn’t Drive Carpool: Seven Principles for Parenting with Soul” (Jodere, 2003).
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