Raising Children of Peace
Edited by Farley and Betsy Jones
In his timeless classic, The Great Learning, Master Kung (known in the West as Confucius) declares:
If there be righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there be beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there be harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there be order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.
The present book is written to trace some of these linkages and to see how righteousness, beauty, and harmony can be nurtured and established in the hearts of our children, thereby truly fostering peace in them and in the world.
Those who contributed articles to this book are all parents who bring the voice of experience to this endeavor. They are writing not from theory, but from experience. Further, each brings a unique perspective to implementing those stable family values that can best sustain the happy and peaceful lives of our children. Though the writers come from different quarters professionally, some important common themes emerge from their insights.
In my work as a psychiatric nurse at two major hospitals in the northeast U.S., I have witnessed numerous admissions of children whose family experience has made them ill. These children are the victims of family dysfunction, including parental conflict, poor parent/child communication and both physical and sexual abuse. Their resultant impairments are heartbreaking.
To minimize such problems in the future, and to support the health of our families and society, we must renew the ideal of parenting on a society-wide basis.
Prior to this, however, must be the renewal of the idea of committed marriage. Beyond a doubt the most successful parenting experiences are provided by those who have been successful in their relationships with their spouses.
Ultimately, both marriage and parenting must find their place in a transcendent order that links marriage and parenting in a unified whole. It is for this reason that religious faith can play such a constructive role in harmonious family formation.
Relationships are nourished and protected by the joy experienced within them. We see this in an individual's course of spiritual maturation. As one's experiences with God become deeper and richer, the trust and joy he/she experiences grows and grows. Finally, there is nothing that can tempt such an individual away from God, because there is nothing more desirable and joyous than what he/she already has.
The same is true in families. What we want to work toward is a level of family harmony and joy that makes it impossible to want anything else. This is true marriage, true fidelity, and true family. To show children absolutely how much they belong, how much we enjoy them, takes us a long way on this road. At bottom, so much misbehavior in children is simply the lack of that sense of belonging and being enjoyed. And unconditionally loving our spouses and others around us is the best way of teaching empathy and self-discipline to ourselves and our children.
While parenthood seems the most private of arenas, the effects of this parenting are ultimately cosmic in scope and character. What each of us do individually now as spouses and parents will have enormous collective effect in the future. When we parent our children, then, we parent the future and we parent the world.
It is because parenting is so important to our children and to our society that this book has been written. It is offered to stimulate active caring and investment in the central relationships of each of our lives, those being first with our spouses and secondly with our children.
The book is divided into four sections, set forth in the Table of Contents. At the beginning of each section is an introduction containing very brief descriptions of the articles therein.
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Table of Contents