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Parenting for Peace by Marcy Axness, Ph.D.: A Book Review

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It seems that most parenting books are written by big name brands. Doctors who gravitate towards and write about an issue that becomes polarizing, like whether or not vaccines are safe and if not can they lead or contribute to the rise in autism?

Or other books written by "celeb moms" who think that fame equals sales. And vying for top sellers, publishers are hard pressed to find titles and new authors who will make the A-list for Apple and Amazon's downloads.

Well, I am counting on Parenting for Peace (Sentient Publications) to do what The Joy of Cooking did for the world: create community amongst parents who will savor the joy of raising peacemakers.

I have known Marcy Axness for many years. We started parenting together in the same decade. The '80s were a challenge for many mothers because Gloria Steinem left a time-bomb-on-the-stairway-leading-up-to-the glass ceiling. And many of us cracked under the pressure of having to do it all.

Raising children while caring for elderly parents, all in support of a two-paycheck income, led many of us astray when it came to not only quality of life issues but the quality of time itself.

Time spent raising our kids to become decent, well-meaning, law abiding citizens.

But what many missed as parents in the '80s is what some never had time to teach. Peace.

I was lucky. I was raised in a household that celebrated humanity and the need for world peace. My mother, Lenore Breslauer was a co-founder of Another Mother For Peace so I learned as a teenager how to become an advocate for something so inherent in every human being: the right to respect all human life and the motto which my mother's organization embraced and fostered, "War is not healthy for children and other living things."

There are many books written about world peace and religious philosophies that are dedicated to achieving it but very few examine where peace begins. At the root: teaching parents how to raise the next generation of peacemakers.

As Axness observes, "One concern I have is the nature and quality of the time parents and children do share -- most specifically, what is that adult portraying as an example for the child -- who is essentially downloading the parent's social-emotional programs."

In my opinion, I have observed , in this age of technoacrobatics, today's children sit for hours unsupervised. They develop relationships with others like themselves who rely more on external stimuli for their growth and development and less time with their parents. This absenteeism can cause a deficit in terms of how that child eventually relates to the world and humankind.

But what if, as Axness posits in her book, "In the midst of our global human, economic and environmental crises, we have been overlooking a most powerful means to cultivate a sustainable, peaceful future; the choices and attitudes with which we bring our children to life and shepherd them into adulthood?"

The "mainspring" of Parenting for Peace is that:

at every moment our children -- as are we -- are either in 'growth mode' or 'protection mode'... vis a vis their neurochemistry, hormonal profile, etc. It is only in the context of 'growth mode' (ie, not feeling under undue stress -- what the American Academy of Pediatrics recently labeled 'toxic stress') that their brain development can express the levels of potential unfoldment that Nature has imbued us with for all these years / eons... with the full spectrum of capacities required of the peacemaker (eg, empathy, self-regulation, imagination, and intelligence). We have for many generations continually thwarted Nature's plan by throwing our children into protection mode -- via so many of our institutionalized practices, such as postpartum separation of mother and baby; shaming, abusive forms discipline; early academics; etc. So compassion (or maybe "Nurturance"-the 5th of the 7 principles) is certainly part of this, but the 7 principles work together to foster optimal growth mode and thus the most robust development of our children's social brain.

In her brilliant book, a thesis which she practices and has preached for many years, Marcy Axness beckons, "Let's raise a generation hardwired for peace and innovation from the very beginning."

And she believes, and supports with extensive research, that this process begins in the womb environment. The book's seven-step/seven-principle matrix lays out a road map for parents to follow and adapt, designed to foster a relational atmosphere in which the child's developing brain can unfold its full potential, in which Nature has included such peacemaker capacities as self-regulation, self-reflection, trust and empathy. Instead of the addictions many manifest today which includes competitive materialism and aggression (or simple jaded ennui, which is a kind of soul violence) towards parents and peers, adolescents raised in a home with these principles find an inner richness that shores them up in a world gone a bit mad with technoacrobatics.

But the means through which many children compare their identity to one another is a false sense of self which has been harbored and cultivated in a society that has lost its compass for what matters most. Human connection. (World peace doesn't spring fully formed. It begins with womb peace. Then infant peace. Then Mommy-and-Daddy peace, then teacher peace and so on...)

Axness has raised two "peacemaker" children who are now celebrating their early adulthood having been fostered and immunized with this consciousness. Their early childhood environment was a cultural cooperative unlike anything I had ever experienced. And today it is even more rare to see a parent invest in something as important as this.

And as she points out, this revolutionary approach isn't very complicated:

How best can we nurture our children's capacities for peace, creativity, ingenuity? It's quite simple, actually, but not always easy: we do it by supporting their life-building will energies, which in turn foster optimal brain development. As with a rose, we ensure the unfolding of a beautiful mind and body when, during these first seven years, we enrich the child's soil -- her home, her days, her parents -- with the four elements most important to the young child: nourishing diet; physical and emotional warmth; consistent rhythms; and an atmosphere of reverence, awe and beauty.

In the book's dedication, her two inspirations, her own children, Ian and Eve, are proof that parenting for peace produces results. Axness speaks from the depth of her own personal experience having raised them from the womb to the ecologically sensitive world environment.

"I am unspeakably proud of what thoughtful, engaged, loving people you are, and the unwavering integrity you bring to the art of living your lives."

The book begins with a quote from Kahil Gibran, "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far."

And as every parent desires nothing but goodness and wellness for their children they can best achieve that by aspiring to the profound principles and practices of parenting for peace.

If having power over another human being is a provocation for war, then parents need a new manifesto, a cultural reboot to help them raise the next generation to believe that their truer power lies in their hearts, entrusted in their minds, having been raised with a kind of love that can, in fact, change the world.

The book asks the question, "Do You Know How Powerful You Really Are?", and helps parents prepare their children for even bigger answers. "Is there anything I can do to change the world?"

Yes! Learn, read, and teach others Parenting for Peace.

This post was originally featured on luxecoliving.com.