Author: Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D.

Publisher: Penguin Books

ISBN: 978-0-14-311631-8

The job of parents, says Charlotte Kasl, is to focus on who their children really are and how they can help them become their best possible selves. As she advises parents to negotiate a path between overloading their young charges with expectations, and not giving them enough guidance, the psychotherapist points to “peace churches” as sources of help: Buddhism, Zen, Society of Friends (Quakers), and others who value simplicity, service, meditation, kindness, and nonviolence. Throughout this book she offers examples of secure bonding, self-mastery, and making the right choices, as well as aspects of intellectual growth. She also provides exercises for parents.

Buddhism may seem intimidating, Kasl admits, yet its emphasis on finding peace opens the way to being a better parent: attune, listen, understand, and feel empathy and compassion. It helps us see that “our scripts for others and images of how they should be – create a great deal of the discord between parents and children.” Buddhism also helps the parent find happiness without depending on the child. Its staple, loving-kindness, lays groundwork for understanding what is beneath the actions of others and of the self. A parent’s anger is generated by the child’s anger, which may be simple frustration. That calls for patience. Kasl reminds us that we must first ask ourselves what triggers our reactions to a child’s behavior, what worries us, and then move on with constant love. Most of this book is about understanding ourselves, even before we become parents. It is about the attitudes and demeanors that shape positive parenting.

Further on, she is instructive concerning major tasks of parenthood: choosing a school (where she argues incisively against military spending); imparting sex education (”sexuality is about knowing, connecting, caring, respecting, and deeply treasuring another person”); keeping a cap on social media (by understanding the differences between connectivity and close relationships); teaching careful handling of money (separate objects from love); and make a case for healthy eating (and adopting practices that support sustainability).

All of the above is well and good if the parent who picks up this book is committed to the premise in the subtitle: raising children to create a more peaceful world. Frankly, I know few people who give this much thought. Parents seeking help from experts most often have a more immediate problem: bad behavior, bad grades, bad relationships. On the other hand, if an expectant parent is willing and able to take time to focus on their preparedness in spiritual as well as material ways, they will find some life-altering gems, such as “how we treat the baby will be reflected in how the baby treats the world.”

Kasl’s advice is a good thing to have in a parenting library and for parenting classes. Still, it sheds light on an enormous gap this book doesn’t fill. Look at the world today. Look just at our immigrant refugees. Next, consider how children learn outside their homes. Then answer this question: How do you introduce peace and justice to a child whose parent has never known peace and justice?

Follow Here To Purchase f the Buddha Had Kids: Raising Children to Create a More Peaceful World