If you’re new to Peacemaker Parenting, you might be surprised by a ripple effect of change it can lead to in your relationships, not just with kids, but with other adults…and even with yourself. 

Peacemaker Parenting offers a profound opportunity for parents to delve into their own childhood experiences, unraveling layers of conditioning, and understanding how these experiences shape our parenting instincts. When you shift your perspective of parenting to a trust-based relationship with your child, rather than something you do to your child, you'll have the opportunity to reflect on your own upbringing with a compassionate lens.

Recognizing Patterns and Behaviors, and Getting Curious
Our early experiences as kids are extremely formative to who we become as adults. Our first experiences of parenting are how we were parented as children, and often the patterns that our parents created become patterns our brains subconsciously “default” to when we’re in similar situations. Expanding our awareness of these patterns allows us to consciously decide if they align with the kinds of parents we want to be. We can let go of the practices and tools that don’t work for us, and embrace parenting in a way we believe is consistent with what we know about the brain and how Jesus calls us to live.

…Except, it’s often easier said than done! Because those early experiences are so powerful and etched so deeply into our brains, parenting as peacemaker may bring up memories and emotions from your past that are uncomfortable or even painful. You may even uncover wounds that were previously buried or aspects of your childhood that have long been ignored. This journey of self-discovery can be both enlightening and challenging, as it requires a willingness to confront uncomfortable truths and embrace vulnerability. However, by working through your feelings and triggers with patience and compassion, you'll gain a deeper understanding of your own lived experience, work towards making peace with you past, and embody the love of Jesus in a more authentic way.

The next time you find yourself triggered by something your child said or did, try asking yourself why you reacted so strongly. Try to look for the emotion “behind the scenes”–sure, your 7 year old whining about being denied ice cream before dinner is a bit annoying, but is it bothering you more deeply because perhaps you were shamed for food choices as a kid? How did that affect your relationship with junk food, food in general, or with your parents? With how you felt about yourself? Trying to unpack some of your own reactions can give you great insight into why you do what you do. This can lead to greater self-awareness, empathy, and the self-control to provide grace-filled responses to the situation at hand, rather than triggered reactions based on unconscious conditioning. 

Therapeutic Support for Parenting Journey
For some parents, making peace with their past can be much easier with professional support. 

Seeking Therapy
Talk therapy can be a valuable tool for parents navigating the complexities of parenting differently than how they were raised. Therapists provide a safe space for parents to explore their emotions, process past traumas, and develop coping strategies for the ups and downs of parenthood. Through therapy, parents can learn to recognize triggers that stem from their own childhood experiences and develop healthier ways of responding to their children's needs.

Support Groups
Parenting support groups, whether conducted in person or online, offer invaluable benefits for parents practicing gentle, peacemaking parenting. These groups provide a safe and non-judgmental space where parents can connect with others who share similar values and parenting philosophies. Through sharing experiences, challenges, and successes, parents gain reassurance, validation, and practical advice, enhancing their confidence and competence in practicing Peacemaker Parenting, and in processing their growth as parents. Support groups also foster a sense of belonging and community, reducing feelings of isolation and providing emotional support during the ups and downs of parenting. Additionally, these groups offer opportunities for learning and growth, as parents exchange resources, strategies, and insights to further refine their gentle parenting approach. Parenting support groups can serve as a lifeline for parents, empowering them to navigate the complexities of gentle parenting with greater resilience, understanding, and solidarity. 

Dending on where you live, finding a supportive parenting group that respects your parenting approach may be tricky. Here are a few tips for finding a supportive group:
  • Check out parenting support groups that are geared towards foster care/adoption. While you may not be able to join them, they may be a point of connection to other parents who are trauma-informed and parenting with physical punishments.
  • Look for Montessori or natural-learner parenting groups. 
  • Reach out to local therapists or counseling offices and ask if they have parenting classes or groups based on authoritative, trauma-informed parenting approaches (such as Circle of Security, TBRI, or Conscious Discipline)
  • Check out our online members-only community: The Mentorship. We have a growing community of Peacemaker Parents, and we meeting weekly via Zoom!
Spiritual Direction
For parents struggling to make peace with their own childhoods, spiritual practices can provide a sacred space for parents to confront their past wounds, grapple with difficult emotions, and discern how their faith intersects with their experiences. By delving into prayer, scripture, and intentional sabbath, parents can find strength and resilience in their relationship with God, experiencing His presence and comfort as they make peace with their pasts. 

Reading through the Gospels and reintroducing yourself to the person of Jesus Christ can be tremendously healing. Paying attention to how He interacts with, holds compassion for, and meets the needs of those who are broken, hurting, and struggling can help you realize how deeply loved you are by our Savior. He longs to redeem and restore your story.

If you need a more practical guide, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is a helpful resource.

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