Sometimes in the chaos of family life, it’s hard to connect to the bigger picture of the cultural revolution lead by parenting that is happening on the planet. It amazes me just how significant it is to cultivate the emotional wellbeing of children and it’s potency for humanity to realise a collective peaceful and sustainable culture.
This is a big part of what drives me as a father, and a parenting and relationship coach.
I resonate with this experience. I studied an undergraduate degree in environmental science and worked in a variety of environmental jobs. I loved learning and understanding ecological systems, and being involved in getting solutions implemented and protection of species established. Over time, I become even more interested in cultural change that was needed, not only in the wider context but the social interactions among environmentalists.
I started to see no matter how committed people were to creating sustainable change things were going to continue to slide, while underneath interactions there were unresolved childhood issues at play. I saw a great need for empathy if we were to get anywhere fast. I studied Wholistic Counselling, did a masters degree in Social Ecology, and became an Aware Parenting Instructor.
A massive cultural problem is the way we systematically disempower children, that gives rise to the top environmental problems Gus Speth sees and more. We are needing to raise a new generation of people who are empowered, resilient, empathic and creative. We are needing parents, teachers, child caregivers, and policy influencers to heal and become deeply empathetic.
Coercion is not a long-term solution.
Jeremy Rifkin makes some wonderful links to the nature of empathy extending to the more-than-human world. I encourage you to watch this summary of his “Empathic Civilisation”
In the book “Parenting for a Peaceful World”, author Robin Grille gives a very clear understanding of how parents and caregivers have an immense opportunity to become key participants in creating a more peaceful and sustainable world. The research compiled in this book leaves no doubts that the way children are raised influences their capacity for the empathic, collaborative and creative initiatives that are needed to overcome humanity’s greatest challenges for social harmony and ecological sustainability.
It is this which drives me deeply as a social ecologist, and a parenting and relationship coach.
It can be overwhelming to consider things in a such a big picture, and may at times seem hopeless. Still, I am a firm believer that every parent, even if buried deep, has a desire for their children to become freely sovereign and self-actualised. Also that parents and caregivers wish for better relationships with their children, ones where there is more connection and cooperation without needing to punish or manipulate.
I have yet to meet a parent who enjoys imposing consequences or trying to coax behavioural change through bribes or distractions. Children don’t enjoy it either. Nobody wants to be forced into things. Imagine applying some of these to an intimate partner, the relationship would deteriorate and never reach it’s potential.
We can all move away from this way of relating. We can support children without the need to punish or impose consequences, and connect and celebrate their achievements without imposing reward systems.
You’d think this would come naturally to parents. It does not though. Stresses of modern day life and the way we were treated as children all get in the way of relating compassionately. It takes courage and a great deal of unlearning to parent in ways that seem outside of the current cultural paradigm, to live into a culture that we feel we truly belong and live more gently on the planet.
I am so grateful to those who have articulated and shared their deep understandings for safeguarding the emotional development of children. This is why I choose to become an Aware Parenting Instructor, to share the wisdom and support other parents feeling called to do better than what we have been through.
If I was to recommend one book to parents of young children, it would be Aletha Solter’s “Cooperative and Connected: Helping children flourish without punishments or rewards”. It is a very practical book that offers pathways for parenting challenges, and undoing our less-than-helpful parenting cultural imprinting, all based on cutting-edge child development research. This Aware Parenting approach to raising children has immense potential to change the world as we know it.
If you are a dad reading this and value the emotional well-being of your child, I’d love to support you with overcoming your greatest parenting challenges.