Parenting for a Peaceful World is a fascinating look at how child-rearing customs have shaped societies and major world events. It reveals how children adapt to and are influenced by different parenting styles and how safeguarding their emotional development is the key to creating a more peaceful, harmonious, and sustainable world.
Practical advice for raising a well-adjusted child includes tips on:
Supporting your child's developing emotional intelligence Understanding how your childhood has influenced your own emotional make-up Helping you achieve your full parenting potential
Parenting for a Peaceful World is for parents, child health professionals, teachers, and adults seeking to heal and grow.
Robin Grille is an internationally renowned author, speaker, educator, psychologist, and psychotherapist specializing in child development, parenting issues, and family relationships.
Robin Grille is a father, a psychologist in private practice with twenty years' experience, and a parenting educator. His articles on parenting and child development have been widely published in Australia and overseas. Robin's first book: 'Parenting for a Peaceful World' (2005) has received international acclaim and led to speaking engagements around Australia, USA and New Zealand. 'Heart to Heart Parenting' (ABC Books) is Robin's second book.
A passionate speaker and social change activist, Robin's extensive research has led him to feel that improved attention to babies' and children's emotional needs is the most powerful way to move societies toward sustainability and peace.
This book has a beautiful premise. Robin Grille’s goal is to get people to be nicer to their children, and in turn he believes it will bring about world peace. It’s a lovely idea.
Parenting for a Peaceful World starts out with the grim and grisly history of childhood. Grille details the high infanticide in ancient Rome and other cultures, the high numbers of abandoned children left to die in orphanages, and the abusive corporal punishment used in schools, churches and in the home. He brings up fascinating tidbits like how Adolf Hitler was abused, once sustaining 200 swats which made him pass out. And he gives three historic examples where punitive and authoritative child practices led to horrible dictatorships and crimes against humanity.
Grille’s point....abuse and neglect breed violence, and I agreed with him. Authoritative and misogynic cultures teach their children to devalue human life by degrading and humiliating their wives and children. There is no doubt in my mind that cruelty to women and children creates a volatile, unstable, and warlike culture. And religion is often used as an excuse and justification for these kinds of atrocities.
I couldn’t help but feel though that Grille was trying to manipulate me. Even in the beginning his book seemed blatantly one-sided. He likes to use terms like Children’s Apocalypse, which to me is like a red flag (‘apocalypse’ and ‘epidemic’ being the most overused and exaggerated words in the news today).
I thought Parenting for a Peaceful World was going to be a sociology study on the effects of parenting methods on personality and culture (which it is) but it’s also one big, annoying lecture on Attached Parenting. I’ll be honest; I almost didn’t finish the book because of that.
The second part of the book is a repetitive sermon on the different stages of childhood. Did you know that it’s crucial that you hold your baby constantly? Don’t let them cry. And mothers should always breastfeed their babies, and don’t wean them until they’re ready, even if the child is six or seven. You should also sleep with your children that way you’ll always be available to them. And always remember to be sensitive to their needs, never condemning, shamming, punishing or manipulating them.
The ending is an even more saccharine coated diatribe about the benefits of Attached Parenting. It reminded me of an infomercial. Your child will be smarter, healthier, more self-confident, more caring, braver, more inquisitive, and will develop a deep bond. Not only that, this feeling of goodwill will eliminate war, greed, gluttony, depression, ADHD, environmental abuse, drug addiction and many others.
Does this sound too good to be true?
Of course if you have any criticism for Grille's ideas, it’s only because you’re suffering from your own hang-ups from being neglected. Your oral needs were probably not gratified because you were fed bottle formula (the horror). Yet this doesn’t stop Grille from doing a little back peddling at the end, throwing out a disclaimer saying not all parents will get these results. Mmm…I wonder why? Does this mean that there are a zillion different factors that make up a human being?
One part of the book I agreed with was how government programs should support children and mothers better. I think the 12 weeks women get in the States for maternity leave is bullshit. Here we have sanctimonious politicians telling hospitals to lock up their formula so new mothers will be encouraged to breastfeed for six months, yet women only get three months leave.
Anyway, you’re probably wondering why I’m being so harsh. Why should this book piss me off? Maybe I do have hang-ups. I admit it. But I also know when someone is trying to manipulate me, and this book is definitely it.
Let me state my gripes.
First off, I think Attached Parenting makes unrealistic demands on parents, especially mothers. Grille goes into how parents need to lean on friends and family, but let’s face it, most people aren’t going to want to babysit for a super picky attached parent. Also only the rich or well-off (at least in the US) could truly ever think of practicing Attached Parenting. This gives the whole practice a sort of elitist edge which is kind of nauseating.
Second, there is no real concrete proof that Attached Parenting works. Grille likes to throw out a lot of data, but I kept thinking he was using the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy link. Until I see the truly superior, attached parenting kids become adults, I’m always going to be suspicious.
Grille states that genetics plays no part in personality. Since when? This argument has been going on since the beginning of psychiatry. When was genetics completely ruled out?
And the last one that really ticked me off was the assertion that if you’re not raised the Attached Parenting way, your psyche will be damaged forever. Wtf? That means most of the world is miserable. And anyone with a working mother is screwed. Give it up kid, you’ll never be as good as those elitist Attached Parenting kids. You’ll always walk around trying to find compensation for not having your oral needs gratified. grrr
Personally, I think happiness is not eternal. In your life you will go through periods of both pleasure and sorrow. You will feel confident and self conscious. It’s all one big cycle. So the big, happy, contented, compassionate, and self-confidant promise sounds like a big pipe dream. And the funny thing is… it’s the sad times in my life that actually made me more compassionate, so I look at them as a good thing.
Anyway, enough rant. There are some thoughtful things I took away from this book, so it wasn’t all bad. I’ll give you a list.
1) Birth control is vital to a society. If a population cannot control how many children they have, infanticide and child abandonment will go up. (Now to be honest, Grille doesn’t say this, but I came up with this conclusion on my own just by reading the history of childhood.) 2) Child abuse, misogamy and punitive religions will create a violent society. 3) Raising children to simply obey will make them more likely to obey a dictator. 4) Hug and hold your children as often as you can. 5) And damn it, women should get longer maternity leave!
And last but not least… 6) Thank God I am childless by choice. I'd probably feel guilty.
Whoa! What an eye-opening read this book turned out to be. The mostly unknown history of child-rearing and how different modes of parenting have impacted civilization was something I'd not been exposed to before. In the introductory first part of this tome, Grille explains how the progress in child-rearing over time has led to social and cultural evolution.
After this context is offered, Part Two begins some of the most difficult reading (not in difficult to grasp, but difficult to simply become aware of the horrendous history of child-rearing) I've ever done. It turns out for most of humanity's existence, childhood has been a full-blown holocaust! The titles for the sections from "Childhood Through The Ages" says it all: "From horror to hope" "The infanticidal mode" "The abandonment mode" "The ambivalent mode" "The intrusive mode" "The socializing mode" "The helping mode."
Suffice to say, if you're alive today, you were most likely raised in a combination of the intrusive and socializing mode, and if you're a parent now, you may be using a blend of socializing and helping (which sounds much like "attachment parenting").
What I found most interesting is how Grille shows that whenever there was an advance in the care given to children, there was a social, cultural and political advance as well. This is the foundation for his thesis that the most important thing a society can do is provide support for families and children. It is here where I found myself thinking of George Lakoff's criticism of the left and progressive movements for so poorly articulating values.
For instance, the right has positioned itself as the advocate of "family values," while it consistently undermines any social net for families and children, eliminating social programs, cutting education and preventing universal healthcare!
As Grille makes clear, it has been estimated that it would take $10 billion USD to bring education to the 180 million children in the world who do not have access to schools. This is 300 times less than what the world spends on the military!
I recommend this book to parents, of course, but as well to all peace-workers and policy thinkers and makers. Grille brings together the top research from psychohistory, neuroscience, child and social psychology which collectively paint a strong and consistent picture: any society that invests in its families, and in its children's emotional development, will see a huge proportion of its costly social problems dissolve.
This book is a bit of a mixed bag. It provides a short history of child rearing and talks about the psychological impact that rearing had on the child and on the community. Especially how child rearing improves so does society in general. The second part of the book focuses on the impact of our current child rearing practices. I found this section very challenging as a mother. The book states that children shouldn't be left to cry as it may if it happens repeatedly damage the child's emotional growth. But how long is too long and how often is repeatedly. I know that child rearing is not an exact science but as a mother prone to guilt these sort of statements make you think did I leave my child child too long etc etc.
The last section of the book I found the best. This section talks about the direction of future child rearing and what we can do to enable a child to grow and learn in a safe and loving environment. From now on I am going to use the words naughty and your a good girl far less often. So whilst not the life changer so people have said the book has been it has made an impact.
I found the history of child rearing quite disturbing. Overall, I really liked this book. It really makes you think about the ramifications of how you speak, treat and nurture your child. A very good read.
Robin Grille the Australian author of Parenting for a Peaceful World writes from a background as a psychologist, psychotherapist, husband, father and musician. He has published about child development, parenting issues and family relationships.
Grille passionately believes that how we raise our children today has a profound effect on how these children will function as adults.
Parenting for a Peaceful World is written in a clear but dense style that likely reflects Grille’s academic background. Based on up-to-date research from a number of biological and social science backgrounds it takes the readers through the history and impact of child rearing practices over the centuries and offers reasons for changing and rethinking the way we raise our children today.
Grille says that, “Children who are emotionally healthy due to the quality of care with which they are raised will grow up to become adults who are likely to treat one another and the earth with care.”
The book is divided into seven parts, each containing several chapters. The first chapter sets out his premise on which the book is written, that our childhood raising practices of the past have damaged our children. The second chapter traces different childhood rearing practices through the ages. This part of the book is rather dark reading; unfortunately, the physical effects of such things as infanticide and baby farmers are not among the worst of atrocities inflected on the world’s children.
In the next five parts Grille advocates for a new way of child rearing that is far more responsive and sensitive to children’s needs. He writes about the need to change from the authoritarian style of parenting many people today have experienced to a more authoritative style that is sensitive to our children’s needs and ages.
This is not a how-to book about parenting but nevertheless there is enough detail given, particularly in the chapter about the five developmental stages of childhood for parents to be able to apply the principles in their families.
The final chapter cautions against the tendency today to isolate parents from the people who should and would want to support them. I was reminded of the old adage, “It takes a village to rear a child.”
The book is supported by end notes, a bibliography and an index
In Parenting for a Peaceful World Grille has made complex and sophisticated ideas accessible for the general reader (parents, teachers, carers and policy makers). I did not find it an easy book to read because no one likes to have their parenting style put under the spotlight.
I'm sure this book is good.....however I feel a fair warning is due. I was expecting a positive book about how to best parent our children, and perhaps it does touch on this, HOWEVER what I was instead presented with was chapters discussing in detail historical extreme abuse of children and how commonplace it was from rape and incest to murder and abandonment, including rape of 3 year old children. Now, I'm sorry if writing this offends, but I do think a fair warning is needed. I suffer with extreme anxiety around such topics and everyone has their own background. Basically if you might be very triggered by these subjects you would be wise to maybe not read the book. For anyone who isn't mentally affected by such subjects, I'm sure the book is very important to the discussion of parenting today, but the book is not for me at all. And yes I have barely read any of it, bit that is due to the distress that the bits I read caused, I continued to flick through to see if there were parts I could read and saw subjects such as the holocaust etc were discussed....this book is not for me and I wish I'd had this warning before having my anxiety set off.
Anyone wondering why parents are the way they are, in any culture or time, should read the first half of this book. We come from a long, brutal history of child rearing that started with mere survival (and infanticide when there were too many babies to care for), shifted toward functionality (and abandonment when the inheritance might be diluted), and finally moved toward acceptance.
The latest shift is toward seeing children as autonomous individuals who need and deserve to be loved and accepted unconditionally. The family as a democracy is the way we can shift our systems and culture away from violence, oppression, and polarity toward peace, empowerment, and compassion.
The family is any cultures vehicle for passing on shared values. If you want to see a different world, look at your own family first.
brilliant second half. the first half was very disturbing exposure of the ways children have been used and abused over centuries. the positive impact to make changes to the way we are as humans is insightful
I highly recommend this book. While I think the title sounds like it is for one of those how-to manuals, this book is anything but that. It is a perspective on peace and civilization that I have never thought of before. I recommend this book not just to parents but to anyone who has ever been a child, or has any interest in history, sociology, or psychology. I enjoy finding new insights and having more of my automatic assumptions brought to light, to realize you have a choice where you never even thought to look for one. That is what this book gives, but it is not a happy book, or a light read. I borrowed this book from the library and have realized the need to go buy my own copy, so I can reread different parts as they come to mind and I can glean new information out of them.
Required reading for every human. We cannot understand war unless we look at history. We cannot understand violence unless we look at the history of child rearing practices.
As essential as learning how to read and write is our ability to get along with one another, I thing it was Daniel Goldman who called our brain a "social engine". In order to progress to the best of our abilities we need to get along with one another in a collaborative fashion. A big part of this learning happens in childhood and Robin Grille is able to show the evolution of humanity in only 390 pages.
What might seem like an extremely hard read at the beginning of the book turns into a bright star of light at the end of the book.
This book is self-published in Australia, and not available in the US, so I don't know how to get hold of it (for reasonable $). Try ILL first. ** Available for no less than $30 before shipping in the US. Described as "harrowing and disturbing" in its "expose on children's treatment," I think I'll enjoy his second book more.... Someday.
25 Feb 2011 the history of child-rearing is heart-breaking and I skipped much of it. I am hopeful that parenting will continue to improve. I look forward to reading about how to fix the mistakes I've made with my kids as their Authoritarian mom...as I transform into an Authoritative, helping mom instead. :)
Totally changed my views on how to go about my role as a parent. This is a game changer. How we parent our children completely affects society as a whole. Definitely not a how to book but it answers all the whys. Every parent should read this book. It's hard to read about children suffering: but sometimes we need the hard reality to make us change.
One of the most important books I have ever read - a must read for all parents or prospective parents who seriously want to give their children the best. Highly authoritative and excellently researched.