Parenting for peace

By Mary Jo Zwar
Children & Family Ministry Resource Coordinator

Posted in Family

Raising children can be challenging at the best of times. Nobody needs to teach children how to put themselves first or how to start an argument. The challenge is to recognise that conflict is inevitable in any relationship and to teach our children to be peacemakers: to respect others, get along with people and love others. Here are some ways we can parent for peace.

Peace that children observe

  • Seek inner peace: As parents we need to resolve our own internal conflicts so we don’t act out our own pain on our children through physical or verbal violence. We may need to seek or give forgiveness. Therapy or counselling may help if unresolved hurtful memories lead to bitterness and anger.

  • Be kind to your partner: Love your partner/s in parenting and work through any unresolved feelings that may exist between you.

Peace that children experience

  • Give your child safe touches: Hug your child warmly and often, even when they are bigger. Avoid hitting, slapping, beating or shouting at your children. This only frightens them and teaches them that violence is acceptable and that they are victims.

  • Talk to your child: Tell them about your world and your feelings.

  • Listen to your child: Allow and help your child to express their feelings. Provide a safe environment where they can cry when they are sad or rage when they are upset or angry.

Peace that children learn

  • Teach your child appropriate ways to deal with criticism and to express anger without hurting other people, animals or plants.

  • Teach your child about social justice and diversity. Create opportunities for them to get to know people of a variety of ages and backgrounds.

  • Teach your child to calm themselves and develop a sense of inner peace, including how to ‘cool off’ when they are angry.

  • Provide your child with strategies for solving conflict in ways that are non-violent and focus on win-win solutions.

  • Teach your child to forgive.

  • Work with your child in concrete ways to promote peace in the wider world.

  • Show your child that joy and peace can result from simple acts of kindness.

No parent can do all that on their own. Just when we resolve to work for peace, babies cry, toddlers have temper tantrums, pre-teens get sassy or teenagers rebel. Even during times of celebration, our home may feel more like the eye of the storm than a haven of peace.

Peace is a gift from God. Like other gifts, we can refuse it or we can accept it: try it out, use it, be thankful for it and share it.

As parents we may be the way God gives the gift of peace to our children.

This article was reprinted in the June 2014 edition of New Times with permission from Faith Family. Faith Family is a publication for churches to gift to parents and grandparents available through the Uniting Young People team. For further information, please call 8236 4281 or email Turn on Javascript!

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