Ahh a morning to sleep in! I came home from a long day at work and crawled into bed around 2am. Those last few hours at work I was living for the bed and dreaming of sleeping in that morning. That dream was a little short lived though. “Mommy, I’m hungry. What’s for breakfast?” “Daddy, you gonna get up?” “Daddy, he won’t play with me.” “Mommy, I’m thirsty”. While this is all going on I’m being awakened by feet in my face and kids bouncing on me. Guess it’s time to get up. I’ll sleep in later though, maybe in about 15 years. So we get up and stumble to the kitchen to get breakfast going. The kids are wide awake now and are running at full steam. Mama and I are about half way to the kitchen, stepping over toy trucks and tip toeing through the Legos while all four kids have lapped the house a few times. Coffee seems to be our main motivation at this point. We now have to figure out what’s for breakfast. Of course everyone wants something different. Coffee is brewing, eggs are being scrambled and the toast is being loaded in the oven. We aren’t really awake yet, still in that zombie state, while the kids are waking the dead.
This probably doesn’t sound much like a peaceful parenting home right now does it? I mean where are those scenes we’ve all seen with the family all frolicking through the meadow with wild flowers all clean and neatly dressed with big peaceful smiles on their faces? Isn’t that what a peaceful family is supposed to look like? Are we kidding ourselves? Is that even possible?
Maybe for some it is but for most families my first little story is probably a good description of a typical day. Is it that too many times we dream up what we want peaceful parenting to be when the reality is that it’s something much more normal? Not every home can be a Buddhist temple. When you have four kids from 4 to 13 many times it can be energetic, wild and downright chaotic. Are we doing something wrong or are we right where we need to be?
Now I don’t want to sound discouraging, especially to those that haven’t even started their families yet but still have the dream of a peaceful parenting home. Don’t think having children can’t be peaceful or isn’t rewarding because that isn’t true at all it’s just that sometimes we create expectations of what we think it should be and maybe sometimes feel we are doing something wrong when those expectations aren’t being met.
The fact is when you have children and especially several in a home, peacefulness isn’t always the description that comes to mind. I know this may come as a shock for some, but peaceful parents still deal with the milk spills, temper tantrums, cluttered bedrooms, lack of sleep and quiet and even those noisy outbursts between siblings. There is a reality to peaceful parenting and it’s not all a frolicking utopia. So if this is all true then what is peaceful parenting?
Peaceful Parenting is actually a very relative term and can be what you make it. Parenting isn’t always easy or peaceful. Peaceful Parenting is simply a non-violent way to guide and raise your children. There are times I struggle with questioning if I’m doing it right? Could I be a better parent? Am I guiding them correctly to being an adult that is caring, understanding and open minded? Trust me, if you sometimes ask yourself these questions you are normal. There is no blueprint or guide to parenting perfectly. Each child is different, just as we adults are. Remembering that they are just as human as you are and different individuals just as you are will be a big step in building a peaceful home. I personally think it’s different for everyone. Our children can be as different as night and day and many times how we guide them, teach them or handle situations are just as different.
We start with a foundation that each person is an individual and is to be respected and that violence is not an answer or a tool to be used to force an outcome. We want our children to become something better than we are. We want them to be imaginative and encourage creativity. These are things most peaceful parents agree on. I think though sometimes we create this lofty idea of what peaceful parenting should be. That’s great and all but things rarely ever go as planned with children especially when there are several. This shouldn’t be thought of as a negative though. Children are many times spontaneous and a home full of children is full of moments of excitement, love, energy, patience, stress and even chaos but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My job is to help my children reach their fullest potential. Parents should view themselves as more as guides through a world of curiosity, exploration, questioning and discovery instead of a stern taskmaster demanding compliance of the rules.
Why do I do this? The answer is easy, because I love my children. I want them to be free, not just physically but free in their minds. I want them to question life and everything in it. When one questions something we will naturally seek out the answer. I want my children to know and understand that violence is not the answer, not in their home, relationships or anywhere in their world. I want my children to be more than just a “worker bee”, I want them to become whatever it is they can be. I believe that for my children to reach their fullest potential in life they need to start out on a great foundation and that is why raising children in a peaceful home is so important for me. It does not restrict or stagnate their growth. It allows them to open their minds and be truly free.
I’ve come to realize one thing after being a father now for 13 years and it is that my one purpose as a parent, as a human being, is to pass on my knowledge and understanding to my children, to raise the next generation of free thinkers. It is my sort of immortality. If you have a desire to change the world then do it through your children because that is the best way to see a real revolution. Children are the future and we will only be able to continually evolve to something better as a species if we allow our children’s minds to evolve.
Parenting isn’t always easy but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced. My hope and fear is that I have been a good guide and example for them. Tomorrow’s world will be run by today’s children, how are you raising your future?
– Travis Maddox from The Anarchist Family Blog