Parenting in a Violent Culture
By Karen Bean, See the Triumph Contributor
There was a random shooting at a local mall, Concord Mills, recently. Violence of this nature seems to be on the rise and its proximity to my home in north Charlotte makes it somehow even more real and unsettling. How do we raise peace-loving children when violence is all around us? News stations seem to lead with the latest story of violence. Plots of movies, video games, and television programs frequently focus on violence shown in graphic detail.
My sons are adults now and, while we did not have toy guns in the house when they were growing up, they went through phases in which action figures with a host of tiny weapons dominated their play. Today my sons are both pursuing careers in which non-violence is an integral part. I am incredibly proud of them and asked them to reflect on the source of their non-violent natures. They did not provide much detail, but the singular answer was – mom and dad. I wonder - how does this parent/child dynamic really work?
Decades of child development research suggest a relationship between optimal functioning children and parenting behaviors such as being attentive, stimulating, loving, and responsive with infants; and providing continued nurturance combined with warmth and consistent discipline as children grow into teens. It is complicated, though, because parenting does not occur in a vacuum. According to Belsky, influences include: parents’ own upbringing and experiences, the unique characteristics of the child, and the context of support and stress. The interaction of family, home, school, social media, and an instantaneous news cycle in a violent culture all have impacts large and small.
Looking back on the time when my sons were growing up, I can think of many things I wish I had done or said differently. But perhaps the best we can do is to try to honor the value of each and every human being that we interact with each day. It may seem like a small thing, but it could serve as an example for children and, if this approach were embraced by society, the collective affects could take us a long way towards a peaceful world.
Belsky, J. (1984). The determinants of parenting: A process model. Child Dev. 55: 83–96.
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