By Robin Grille

Sitting down to write this book review is quite an intimidating task. How often does a parenting book come along that is as compellingly researched and historically in-depth as Robin Grilles Parenting for a Peaceful World? If taken seriously by parents, teachers, communities and government, it is a book that has the potential to achieve profound evolution and revolution in world peace, human rights and environmental sustainability. This is an ambitious book that keeps its promises. The premise is simple enough; treat our children with kindness and raise them to be emotionally healthy. They will then become adults who are likely to treat each other and the earth with kindness. But to put such ideals into practice requires some social and historical detective work as well as some personal parental soul searching. Connecting the two is where Grilles expertise lies. Drawing together research in fields as diverse as psycho-history, neurobiology, developmental psychology, attachment theory, democratic education and contrasting his own practical experience as a psychologist and psychotherapist in private practice, Parenting for a Peaceful World is the one parenting manual that gives context to our beliefs about parenting and childhood and offers us a glimpse of the potential that lies beyond. Disturbing in its honest rendering of childhood through the ages we see that we still live in a world where parents kill, maim, sexually abuse or abandon their offspring. Grille found no historical evidence of the cherishing of children until the late 1700s, when children were still raised in line with strict moral moors, rigid routines and cruel punishments. Mid to late 19th century Europe saw the establishment of several societies for the prevention of cruelty to children and popular writings advocated gentleness with children, emotionally involved parenting for both mothers and fathers and the value of play for children and parents alike, although evidence shows these philosophies are only now obtaining widespread social adoption based on the research foundations laid by the likes of Sigmund Freud and Jean Piaget last century. The concept of the loving family is only a recent development of the past 150 years in a parenting millennia. It is in examining the new field of psychohistory, which analyses the way in which childhood experiences and emotional development influence social change and world events, that Grille really makes the noble ideal of his book accessible to the reader. In an historical context it is our collective adaptation to childhood trauma that has lead to worldwide megalomania, sociopathy and unquestioning adoration of charismatic leaders, war, abuse of power and environmental devastation. Parenting for a Peaceful World is an academic book that puts it all in crystal clear language explaining how childrearing affects world affairs using historical evidence from Yugoslavia, Russia and Nazi Germany and the recent co-evolution of democracy and human rights in countries like France, Sweden and the USA. Later chapters operate as a guide to progressing from the prevalent model of parenting identified as socialising mode to the more evolved helping mode of parenting. The guide, Grille acknowledges, may well be out of date 50 years hence, much like the renowned views of Dr Spock, now considered outmoded, evolved a generation of parents out of the antiquated intrusive mode and into the modern socialising mode of parenting in the space of 50 years. As science and history shows, parenting has been slowly evolving through the generations and parents of today have inherited a powerful psycho-social parenting legacy. We find ourselves to be pioneers and role models in a new era of parenting politics that embraces “non-violent and emotionally connected parenting”. And if child rearing continues to evolve, we will, according to Grille, be rewarded with positive changes in social justice, social harmony and ecological sustainability. Parents of today and tomorrow have a most important job ahead of us. Do we take the challenge? Of course, we do! “Parenting evolution drives social evolution and appreciating this shows us the steps needed to make this world a better place.” Robin Grille