More Peaceful Parenting. Step 1. Forgive, accept, and love yourself.




(Photos by Sage.)

Wow. This post was harder than I ever imagined to begin. Because I am thinking: Seriously? Who am I to offer advice on a subject such as this?

Who am I?

I am a mother. A daughter. A granddaughter. A wife. A daughter-in-law. A friend. A neighbor. I am an observer and a participant in both the story of violence and the story of intentional non-violence.

And I am selective as to which tradition I choose to pass on.

Indeed, I have lived the legacy of both peaceful and non-peaceful parenting from many vantage points. And I'm ready to step up and start writing a new story. Starting today.

From the comments on the earlier posts (both this one and this one) I know I've touched a nerve. And I've lost nights of sleep over worrying that someone out there feels judged and criticized by my words. And then today in the mail (the actual mail. With a stamp and paper and everything) came a note saying (among other things), "P.S. Thanks for trying and trying to get the point across about kids and respect. I think it's a big deal."

Thanks, B. I do too.

I think it's a ginormous deal. And no matter where we've been or where it looks like we're heading, we can make changes that better the lives of our children and ourselves. How empowering is that? We get to step up and take control of our choices. We're in charge! Awesome.

But before I dig in, just to be clear, I am not:

  • An abuse counselor
  • A psychologist – child or otherwise
  • A person living with physical, emotional, or sexual violence
  • A child living with violence
  • A parent wresteling with depression or mental illness
  • A person healing from major past trauma

I am simply, a mom. And a mom who believes that I can do better today than I did yesterday. If you are dealing with major trauma please seek help beyond this space. Here I am simply sharing my thoughts on bringing a bit more peace into your home.

Most importantly, my words are offered without judgement for where you are or where you've been; what you've said or what you've done. They are offered with hope and gratitude for where you have chosen to go from here. What an amazing gift for yourself, your family, and the future.

While I intended to start with how you think about, speak to, or otherwise engage your child, I realized that was premature. Because before our child there was us. And that story is woven deep within our story with our own children. So perhaps the first step will be the hardest one of all.

Step 1: Forgive, accept, and unconditionally love yourself.

And when you've got that one down then move on to loving, forgiving, and accepting your parents. And your child. "Oh, right. That," you say. "No problem."

Er, or not.

Because our family stories are thick with unhealed wounds. We carry them. We play them out in a new context. We remember them in every cell. Even what we choose to forget come bubbling up during times of stress.

And so I ask you to begin by doing something that may seem nearly impossible.

Why start with love, forgiveness, and acceptance? Because it's the foundation of what we're setting out to create. It's allowing ourselves, our parents, and our child to be imperfect. And within that imperfection to still be loved and accepted. Unconditionally. Think about that for a moment. Unconditional love. Isn't that a beautiful concept? We are separate from our actions. We are loved, even when we're acting like monsters. We matter, even when we don't think we should.

It's beautiful.

If you'd like some homework, grab a blank notebook and jot down three things you appreciate about yourself every night before you go to sleep. Three gifts you bring. Three bits of your sparkle. Because guess what? You were born to shine, too.

Edited to say: Please do this exercise, with our without the pencil and paper. I did it last night in my head before I fell asleep. And while I was slow starting, I came up with three things. I know you can too.

For the very brave, share it here too. (Not required, just gutsy.) Need more inspiration? This is fantastic. No go find your awesome. 

So much love,


Here are the links to the complete Peaceful Parenting Series:

More Peaceful Parenting Step 1. Forgive, Accept, and Love Yourself.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 2. Identify the Need.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 3. Validate.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 4. Creating a Yes Environment.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 5. Your Mission Statement.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 6. Just Listen.

More Peaceful Parenting Step 7. Play!


38 thoughts on “More Peaceful Parenting. Step 1. Forgive, accept, and love yourself.

  1. Cheryl says:

    “We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; It’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, Our presence automatically liberates others.” –Marianne Williamson

    Found that yesterday posted here and the quote made me think of you. You should check out what she is doing, it’s full of awesome 🙂

  2. Robyn says:

    There is something i find so healing about raising a child of my own. Both for my husband and I. we are constantly looking back at our own parents and how we were raised with new eyes. this is very painful for my husband, as his childhood was vastly different than the one we are giving our child. but in many ways, it makes him a better father. he wants our girl to have a different life than he did. i think it’s been healing for him. he sees that things weren’t his fault. he was just a kid. he’s having trouble with the forgiving part, but i think he will get there. for right now though, he’s at least gaining a lot of understanding about why he is who he is today (and i am too). it’s been fascinating.

  3. Rachel Wolf says:

    Robyn, I would encourage him to read or listen to the work of Carolyn Myss . She speaks beautifully of finding gratitude towards our tribe – family, community, society – for not being good enough. For not being resonant and giving us the place to launch off from to a place that feels better to us. They push us to evolve. And indeed, even through his pain I would expect some piece of that would resonate for him. Because hes given his daughter a different experience in part due to the pain of his own childhood.


  4. Lucia Figueiredo says:

    Oh yes, to begin with ourselves… So true yet so hard! Ultimately I find that everything in my parenting journey comes back to myself, to my own struggles and wounds. I find it much easier to forgive, accept and love others, specially my son. Even the little bits and traits that I know we share, like his high sensitivity, his sweetness and intensity are so easy for me to admire, accept and love in him, but not so much in myself. But I’m aware of this and gently taking on my healing journey, allowing myself to embrace my imperfections and still feel loved.

    PS: I’ve been a reader for quite a while but never commented before. Thank you so much for sharing yourself in this space. You have been a great inspiration!


  5. colleen says:

    Okay, I’ll dive in the deep end.
    There are ways of parenting I learned and passed on I’m not proud of. But there were things I was given that have served me well.
    1) Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
    2) Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. You will more than likely find something good in everyone.
    3) Be honest even when it is tough.
    I can and do these three things and like them about myself.
    Funny that you thought I would feel judged by you. I am my worst judge when it comes to parenting. Now that Nick is almost 21 there are lots of things I wish I would have done differently and lots of things I still struggle to do differently.

  6. Cassandra says:

    I’ve started a lot of family drama for being open and vocal about the displeasure with how I was raised affecting how I’m choosing to parent now. It was my life, my childhood, my experiences, I have a right to speak about how my feelings during those years have influenced my parenting choices. Of course they think it’s a personal insult that I do anything different from what they do, because obviously how they do things is the “right way” and choosing otherwise must insinuate that they are somehow wrong. I’ve been put down and verbally attacked so many times since I got pregnant for my different decisions. Despite it all, I continually choose to forgive. Take the good, learn from the bad. Unfortunately I still struggle with thinking highly enough of myself to believe I “shine” in any way.

  7. Robyn says:

    Ok Rachel, your FB request got to me :). Here are my 3 gifts…

    1). I am determined. When i decide i want to do something, i do it. It has taken me 31 years to finally trust in that and not worry so much about whether my dreams are too big…

    2). I am creative. This has been a rather new realization too, as i always thought of myself as more of a left brained, analytical type.

    3). I am a mother. Now that i’m in my third year of mothering, i really feel like i’m there. the first couple of years i was still feeling my way around in it and getting used to the awesomeness of it. But now, i get it. i get what it means to be a mother. and i love it. it’s how i now define myself. i can’t imagine it any other way.

  8. Robyn says:

    i have issues with this too. whenever i make a different choice than my mother (when it comes to parenting), or i tell her about my various theories, i am met with her insecurities that she screwed up. so i end up having to reassure her that i know she did the best she could. it’s really frustrating. i wish she could understand that this isn’t about her. our situtations are completely different. i’ve told her i get that, but she still hasn’t been able to let it go. hopefully in time…

  9. Cassandra says:

    I think a LOT of “peaceful parenting” types struggle with this because it’s not that we’re just making different choices, but our choices are seen as inherently bad through fear of permissiveness. It’s worse when I can’t even talk about MY OWN LIFE with other people lest I be called mean names and put down by my freaking parents. Like I want to share this post on my FB with other parents I know will like it, but I know my mom will come and hunt through the comments to see if I’ve said anything about her.

  10. Michelle says:

    Why is it so tough to think of our good qualities, to compliment ourselves? I was uncomfortable trying to do this last night – I could give you a laundry list of all my (perceived) bad qualities, but I struggled to come up with three good. But if you asked my husband, he could come up with a lot. So apparently the good qualities are there, I just struggle to see them. Hmm, I’ll be gutsy and share what I finally came up with – I am selfless. I’ll go sleepless nights to get things done for others that I care about – whether its baking cupcakes and bread for co-op in the middle of the night or driving 24 hours straight through to pick up a family member in need.I am emphathetic – I get emotional thinking about others’ suffering, whether its people I know, strangers across the globes, or shelter animals. One more – I am constantly trying to learn new things, ways to be a better mom, wife, individual. whew, that wasn’t so bad! thanks for suggesting this activity, it was needed and appreciated!

  11. cindy scott says:

    three things I appreciate about myself:
    #1: I am a thoughtful and generous person and am modeling that for my children and their interactions with people.

    #2: I love to laugh. It feels good and am trying to infuse more silliness into my parenting, especially during times where some form of discipline seems required.

    #3: I am full of love for life, my family, and my friends.

    Thank you Rachel – appropriate excerise. Important for our work as mothers.
    P.S. I absolutely love your “rad” dishes. score!

  12. Rachel Wolf says:

    I navigate some of our parenting differences with my family too when I realized (when Sage was a baby) that my choices contained within them implied criticism. But that’s how we evolve, isn’t it? We take what worked and leave the rest. Hugs.

  13. Susie says:

    This is really tough one to start with Rachel! I came to motherhood with no inkling of how to do it. I had no role model on which to base it. So, I constantly feel I am not quite up to the mark. But your words resonate. I will think about this.

  14. Sheila says:

    Hi there folks,
    I am grateful to you, Rachel, for doing this. Here are my three things:

    1. I reflect honestly and openly about everything.
    2. I am not too proud to say I am sorry.
    3. I love to grow and learn.

    sheila 🙂

  15. Julie Kittredge says:

    Three bits of my sparkle. I love that line! 1) I’m intentional. I watch my kids’ and work hard to speak truth and love and life into their lives. 2) I’m growing. Mothering is an evolution of perspective. I’m not the same mom now with three that I was when I was a mom of one. 3) I see and focus on the beautiful small moments that are deeply personal and revealed to my heart. These moments fuel the flame of keeping on in the mothering journey.

    I think your word “forgive” is the strongest in what we give to ourselves and our families, past and present. Thank you for the reminder that peaceful parenting starts with a peaceful soul.

  16. Lori says:

    Wow the good things are hard to think about. Not easy coming up with 3 of them. Ok, lets see.
    1. I try to find the good in people and situations
    2. Im empathic and compassionate to others in need or hurting
    3. I love to have fun.

    Ok thats all i can come up with. Not sure Theres much more.

  17. Kim says:

    Alright. 3 things, huh? About *me*? That are positive?

    I can do this 🙂

    1. I am empathetic
    2. I am intelligent
    3. I am FUNKY!

  18. KC says:

    1)My ability to be open minded about big changes.
    2)I’m a great cook.
    3)Willing to stand my ground and go with a gut feeling even if everyone else says otherwise. My gut has never been wrong.

    Doesn’t the old saying go “You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else?”

    I’m so excited to hear what you have to say in this series of posts!

  19. marty says:

    I am a good mom, I know not only because my children tell me but because of who they have turned out to be.
    I work hard…at everything, playing, friendships, work, even mindless Tv watching…I do it all with gusto.
    I refuse to take life to seriously…I shall pass this way but once so I should make it good!

  20. Sheila says:

    I just spent last night and this morning “reflecting” with thoughts floating in and out wondering if #1 came off wrong. Had a crying baby daddy was trying to pass back and had to be quick. What I really meant to say was that I am willing to and interested in and see the value of reflecting on things little and big in all aspects of life and spirit. But why should I worry so much about judgment or perception of something so innocuous? Who knows….

  21. Kim Akari says:

    1) I am open minded
    2) and good at improvising
    3) also, I’m funny

    Thanks for this exercise. It’s something I will definitely benefit from. I agree with you about most of our parenting issues coming from a deeper place rooted in our own childhoods.

    The part about forgiving my parents is something I struggle with. But I know it’s so important for me to let it go so that I don’t reenact the same problems in my own little family. I am eager to read your upcoming posts!

  22. Corina says:

    Hm(ph). Interesting how weirdly resistant I feel about coming up with three things I like about myself, but here goes:

    I’m highly sensitive and frequently have good insight into what’s going on for other people (behind whatever masks they’re wearing externally); and I use this gift to help others feel better. happier. more well.

    Because I’m always looking for adventure in even the littlest moments of a day, I’m also really open to the benefits of rule-breaking and doing things “differently”.

    Lastly: resilience and optimism, even in the face of bad-things-happening. I always try to find the “Yes!” in a given day/ moment/ challenging situation. My own Papi encouraged this, so I really appreciate the sense of creative space that his loving approach helped develop in me.

  23. Isavoyage says:

    Dear Rachel,
    This post definitly hit the spot. I started crying before I finished reading it. I will write 3 things I like about myself tonight before going to sleep. And I will go on until I feel good about myself every single day. Because i deserve it, and because it’s the first step towards being good to others.
    I read everything you write on this blog and i learn a lot, even though I don’t have kids.
    Thank you so much. Knowing you are there is a great feeling 🙂 .

  24. Becca Riley says:

    I’ve just started coming here today. I’ve been following you on FaceBook for a while now.
    3 things that are good abiut me? Okay I can do that.
    1. I am loyal, to family, friends, even brands and companies. Of course there are things that could break that loyality, but I haven’t had to deal with that very often.
    2. I am a talented cook. Almost any recipe I try turns out right the first time. When I make up my own recipes they are more often successful than not.
    3. I am a good listener. I don’t just listen I try to understand, and I try to know when just listening is what is needed and when they want me to help, give suggestions for example.

  25. Darcy Nimmons says:

    I am sorry you had to go through all that. I know it is hard to forget, but a wise professor once told me, to let all the bad memories go and move on. “The best revenge is to live a good life.” Thought I’d share it to you because you truly deserve to have a great life. You’ve been through so much, and I think it’s time for you to take all those memories away and start with a new chapter of your life — a very good one. Everything will just be in the past now. Your “homework” – that’s good start. I hope you find those three amazing words that best describe yourself. Embrace those with all your heart. Focus on yourself, your kids, and your life NOW. What comes next will surely be great for you.

  26. Barb says:

    Thanks for this Rachel. <3
    1)I am honest to a fault. I appreciate this about myself MOST of the time. I need filters 😛
    2)I'm a motivated self learner. This has defintely shaped me and fuels my desire to homeschool- there is still so much to learn and I really enjoy growing WITH my family.
    3)I have passion. I LOVE this about myself.

Leave a Reply