Trying to Raise Peacemakers

It's not like I lose sleep over it or anything, but I've been thinking lately about how to raise my children to be peacemakers. I suppose it's on my mind because Paloma is now at the age where Hunter can get on her nerves and vice versa. They can be the sweetest siblings one minute, hugging and laughing and playing, and the next she's screaming and pushing her brother out of her way. At dinner he'll utter, "Mommy, Paloma is so stinking cute." But just 15 minutes earlier he was screaming, "Mommy, Paloma makes me so mad!"

Spats like these remind me that the path toward peace starts at home, and daily interactions between siblings are the perfect opportunities to practice making peace. We can play cooperative board games to practice working together rather than focusing solely on winners and losers. We can coach our young children through their conflicts by giving them language and other tools to work through them (rather than resorting to hitting). I mean, these are all pretty standard practices for most families, right? You teach your kids that it's not OK to resort to violence to get your way and hope that translates into not getting into fights at school. You hope they grow up to stand up to injustices great and small. You hope they learn to stand up for themselves with words rather than fists. You hope they choose peace.

While there are many things Isaiah and I can do at home to promote peace, I also want to somehow foster a global perspective surrounding peace, which means talking about the hard stuff. Up until recently, Hunter carried a lunch bag with peace symbols on it. As a 2-year-old, he never asked what they meant, but when he went back to school this year, we talked about how peace means "not fighting." That was the simplest definition I could come up with that I thought would make sense to him. And it does. He is big enough to understand now that people use violence to try to solve their problems.

Next month, on September 21, we will observe the U.N. International Day of Peace. Hunter will learn that peace is not just a symbol on his brother-and-sister matching t-shirts (courtesy of Tea Collection). He will learn that through respect, unity, equality, and diversity we can work toward a more peaceful world. He will learn that we have a lot of work to do. 

This idea of a more peaceful world is a lofty goal, I know, but I have to believe it's possible otherwise what kind of future do my children and grandchildren have? For now, we will work on making peace at home and continuing to make the foreign familiar (click here for my blog series about making the foreign familiar). When we realize that we are more alike than we are different, we open the path for peace. 

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