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A Universal Peace Offering
The universe has presented us with a powerful means of creating peace: the way we bring our children to life. Important principles about the influence of our thoughts and attitudes, together with leading-edge research, offer us an invitation to effect fundamental changes through conscious conception, pregnancy, and childbirth— thus bringing into the world individuals who are “built for peace”!
Most of us subscribe to the goal of a peaceful, ecologically sustainable world where our great-grandchildren can thrive. But that goal seems far out of reach. A joint study by Harvard and the World Health Organization finds that the United States suffers the highest rate of depression (9.6%, meaning more than 9 out of every 100 people) of the 14 surveyed countries, including war-torn Lebanon (6.6%) and poverty-stricken Nigeria (0.8%). The use of anti-depressants and other psychotropic drugs for school-age children (and preschoolers!) has risen steadily over the past decade. Youth suicide has become the third leading cause of death in American 15–24 year-olds, and has doubled in the 5–14 year-old age group.
We are steering the wrong course.
The idea that parents wield the most fundamental, lasting influence on the socioemotional health of their children is decidedly not PC. The notion that there is an ideal toward which we might strive in human endeavors isn’t PC either, for it risks engendering guilt. But the resulting responsibility-free mentality instead creates disempowerment and hopelessness.
Dotty Coplen writes in Parenting for a Healthy Future, “The more we understand about the future consequences of what we are doing, and the intent that goes with the action, the more successful we will be in caring for our children with our own purposes and goals of parenting in mind. Parents need to decide together what they believe to be a healthy human being.”
Research indicates that a healthy human being has a brain wired with the capacity for self-regulation, self-reflection, trust, and empathy. A healthy human being has the heart to embrace and exemplify peace, the mind to innovate solutions to social and ecological challenges, and the will to enact them. Such a human is never a genetically predestined fait accompli, but the result of dynamic interactions between genetics and environment—with parents being the most influential environmental variable. The capacities needed for optimal—or even passable—human psychosocial well-being are created through healthy, attuned relationships with a select few consistent adults for the critical first three years. The opposite situation is not usually malicious abuse, but rather the kind of unintended neglect that occurs when parents are overworked, overwhelmed, or under-supported.
Please hear me clearly here—this is not about placing blame or provoking guilt in parents who are doing the best they know how. This is about compassionate awareness, about understanding ourselves and our own stories: we have all been babies, toddlers, and children! This is about the mysteries of our own divinity.