Naturalmommy is pleased to introduce Robin Grille, father, psychologist, author and parenting educator from Australia. We were very excited to get the change to talk to Robin about his world changing endeavours and to share his parenting wisdom with you, especially his concept of emotionally authentic parenting.
Robin has written two thought provoking books, Heart to Heart Parenting and Parenting for a Peaceful World. Both books promote the cultivating of loving and supportive relationships between parent and child while discussing the effects of relationships based on shaming, manipulation and abuse.
Parenting for a Peaceful World was our first introduction to Robin. We were struck by his connection between parenting and the level of peacefulness in society. He believes that our child rearing choices can be the most powerful agents for positive social change and planetary healing.
This work gets parents thinking from a whole new perspective about their role as promoters of peace, yet Robin does this without patronizing the reader. Instead Robin focuses on giving parents general information about research relating to child development. This research touches on areas of development psychology, social psychology, biology and psycho-history. Robin argues that emotionally healthy children are a communal responsibility and we have to agree with him.
In Heart to Heart Parenting Robin focuses on showing parents how to nurture their child’s emotional intelligence and to encourage children to grow up in ways which support peace and sustainability.
Robin has a myriad of thrilling works that revolve around the concept of parenting from a place of love. He has written about childhood memory, the effects of parenting through shame, emotional well-being and much more.
When we spoke to Robin about his philosophies and upcoming projects he had this to say:
naturalmommy: In your book Parenting for a Peaceful World you make the connection between the historical treatment of children and world peace. You also draw a connection between parenting, democracy and human rights. Can you tell us a bit about the importance of making these connections and understanding the inter-connectivity between childhood experiences and the ability to flourish in adulthood?
Robin: There has never been such a clear understanding as we have now, thanks to developmental neuroscience and epigenetics, about how powerfully our childhood experiences change our brains, even our genetic expression, in a way that writes a program for the way we end up relating to the world as adults. From every corner of our social sciences we just keep finding more and more about how childhood is the driver of future societies. Psycho-historians have drawn very clear links between childrearing styles and the worst of history’s war and tyranny. Every one of humanity’s acts of destruction has been preceded by a punitive, violent and exploitative custom towards children. By the same token, every shift towards more democracy, more social justice and even better attitudes to the environment have been preceded by quantum evolutionary steps away from authoritarian child rearing and education. In every sense, democracy begins at home, it begins in the womb, it begins at school – as these are places where the human neural networks are daily being conditioned for empathy, creativity and openness, versus reactivity, selfishness and competitiveness.
Human empathy has been mapped in the brain and in our endocrine system: it has its own complex engine that drives it. And today we understand very clearly that our capacity for empathy is not genetically determined: its healthy growth, in neural flesh, is literally sculpted by the way we were related to as children. It just makes perfect sense that how we relate to children, thus will they relate to the world. If we want peace, justice and democracy, it is there for the taking: we just need to treat our children that way.
It is no surprise then, that many studies show that authoritarian childrearing tends to create a generation that favors authoritarian government (tough on law and order, keen on battle, exploitative on the environment, permissive on corporate greed); while authoritative and democratic childrearing creates a generation that favors a much more egalitarian economy and collaborative foreign policy.
Our progress toward a sustainable, co-operative, prosperous and just world – at a time when this is urgently needed – requires all of us to turn our attention to a progressive evolution in parenting and educational style. The millennia-long era of authoritarian parenting needs to be closed, so a new society can emerge. And I do think that this process is well underway; it just needs to be accelerated.
naturalmommy: As a father and peaceful parenting expert you are uniquely qualified to lead the way for other dads who want to make a peaceful difference in the lives of their children and communities. What are some of the specific way that you think that dads can contribute to a healthy future for generation to come?
Robin: In fact, I never use the phrase ‘peaceful parenting’, I have to say that is really not me. Conflict is central to family relationships, it is an essential feature of parenting. And particularly in families of expressive and extroverted individuals, conflict can bring out passion at times. That is OK, it is life-giving in fact. So I use the term ‘emotionally authentic’ parenting. People really confuse assertion with aggression. The two are in fact opposite. Showing each other the whole rainbow of our emotions is what creates the closest, most loving and loyal relationships. We don’t need to be like meditating monks, we need to be real. And, very importantly, we need to honor our children’s right to be powerful, to tell us how they feel, to talk back. Peace does not come from being nice (although nice is nice, when that is how we actually feel!). Peace comes from mutuality, connectedness, truth.
Being strong with our kids is the opposite of being tough. Being assertive and real – which must include our emotional vulnerability, by the way – is the very opposite of being punitive or authoritarian. Punishment not only is destructive, it is weak.
So I say to Dads, stand up against the authoritarianism of the past, have the strength to say ‘no’ to the culture that came before us. And the more you learn to be yourself, that is the art of showing all your feelings appropriately, while helping your children to show theirs, the more wonderful your relationship with your children will be.
There is so much more I could say, I love working with Dads, there are huge gifts that each father brings – but space here is limited. Play with your kids, have fun, set clear and well-explained boundaries, be real and be yourself. The most empowering and heart-filling memories that I have of my late father, is what he taught me in those times in which he was truly being himself, and following his heart.
naturalmommy: What are some of your upcoming projects that people can look forward to?
Robin: Wow, you are really throwing down the gauntlet here! I hate making promises that I fail to fulfill – so, the pressure is on, isn’t it?
OK, there are many creative ideas churning around in my belly. More books may be a long way away, so in the meantime I plan to keep writing blogs and articles. They are easily found on so many sites, I will just say: follow your ‘Google impulse’! I do have a short interview-film soon to be released through ‘Owl Productions’ (owl.postle.net), look out for it, it is editing right now.
Also, I am planning to make a number of short, informative and inspiring videos, beginning next year.
These are my small ways of trying to contribute to what I see as a global, Children’s Liberation movement. This is a movement that has no figurehead, but a huge number of gifted contributors around the world, in so many walks of life. Most don’t even know of each other’s existence. But this is a very exciting movement that is changing and will continue to dramatically change the world, for the better. If only we can do so rapidly enough…
Robin Grille is an active educator, giving talks and conducting seminars. We highly recommend all of Robin’s works and his web-site, which can be found [here]. You can also view his heart to heart parenting blog [here] and you can watch his video titled Parenting for a Peaceful World on our site by clicking [here] or by visting naturalmommy.com/natural-parenting.
Parenting for a Peaceful World is currently downloadable through Amazon USA as a kindle book [here]. It is also available in paperback worldwide through thebookdepository.com found [here] or Amazon in Canada [here]. Heart to Heart Parenting can also be found on Amazon [here].