Research & resources

Review by Katherine

Breastfeeding your baby in bed or helping your toddler develop their autonomy may not seem like a political act, but according to Robin Grille, it may be one of the most important things you do to shape the future of society. In his Parenting for a Peaceful World, the Sydney psychologist argues that until we collectively parent children more empathically, war and unbridled consumption will continue to wreak havoc in our world.

The book starts off with a history of childhood which is hard to read as it recounts several hundreds of years of brutality and abuse. It’s not necessary to read these chapters in their entirety to get the message that up until about 50 years ago, it just plain sucked to be a kid. And still does in some parts of the world. If you managed to live to adulthood, you were deeply scarred by the experience, eager to brutalise others and ready to inflict the same torture on the next generation of children.

Grille uses this history to support his argument that the harsher children are treated the more violent and brutal the society they form as adults. He gives some specific examples such as Yugoslavia, Russia and Nazi Germany. While I’m open to this as being true, I think the evidence Grille provides would be unconvincing to those less open to the idea.

He extends this idea even further in the part of the book that I think some people would find challenging, where he describes the predominant style of parenting today as the socialising mode.

The socialising mode of parenting emphasises the need to train the child to behave in socially acceptable ways. Grille is critical of this approach because it ignores the needs of children in favour of the convenience and expectations of adults. Rewards and punishment are the mainstay of this parenting mode, and Grille is clearly against these techniques, including the good old star charts and ‘time out’. Another popular parenting technique he targets is controlled crying which he explains works because babies eventually become numb to the pain of not being responded to.

Perhaps his most provocative suggestion is that current common parenting methods such as these, which manipulate the child to behave in ways convenient to adults, create adults who are susceptible to manipulation and easy prey for the consumerist machinery of today’s society.

Grille’s alternative to the socialising mode is the helping mode of parenting which focusses, not on getting children to behave a certain way, but on empathy and open communication with them, responding appropriately to their needs, and having faith that they will grow into thoughtful, considerate human beings all of their own accord. In order to achieve this, however, he points out that it’s not only parents that need to have this focus, but all of us, extended family, child carers, teachers and politicians included.

As Grille himself warns, this is not a parenting book as such. It gives no detailed advice about sleeping, crying, feeding, playing etc which you would normally expect to find. In some ways, it’s more useful than a parenting book because it gives you some principles. Remember the principles, and you will intuitively know what’s best to do for your children.

Those looking for more practical parenting advice could try his second book, Heart to Heart Parenting. I haven’t read it – it’s on my list, and I’ll be interested to see how useful it is.

With a one-year old son, I have only started the parenting journey. My partner and I have implemented most of Grille’s suggestions so far and intend to continue to do so, because they appeal to us and they appear to be supported by evidence. I’ll get back to you in about 20 years time to let you know the outcome.

(Parenting for a Peaceful world is available from ABC shops and Mothersdirect)

My apologies for my slackness in updating this blog.

The campaign for same sex parenting recognition in Queensland still continues apace, although it does seem to be going on and on forever, doesn’t it? I think it’s a ploy to wear us down.

Some recent news:

  • You’re probably aware of Lawrence Springborg’s proposed amendment to the surrogacy legislation, with surrogacy remaining a criminal offence for same sex couples and single people, and recognition of lesbian parents removed from the bill ‘to be debated separately’.  Louise did a radio interview with Sunshine Coast ABC radio, which you can listen to here. I like her focus on ‘discrimination’, emphasising the human rights angle.
  • I went to the GLBTIQ community event at Parliament House, where I met John Paul Langbroek and Lawrence Springborg in the flesh. They seemed perfectly pleasant. This was the week before Mr Springborg’s announcement, which made me wonder why he had bothered attending.
  • Seeing as we had such an instant rapport at the Parliament House event, I sent both Mr Langbroek and Mr Springborg a (handwritten!) letter talking about my family and how the current legislation affects us. I included some family snaps and the digital story “Where did I come from?” I showed you a while ago.
  • Last week, thanks to QAHC, I did a mailout to all the MPs, sending them the flyer on same sex parenting research
  • And some positive news: apparently lesbians do a better job of raising children! (Who’d have thought?)

Keep visiting your MPs!

We’re gradually getting together some resources for people to take with them when they visit MPs.

I’ve just posted twelve Myths about gay & lesbian parenting – you’ll find it under “resources and research” at the top right of this page.

There’s also a new sample letter to an MP requesting a meeting.

We already have links to a research summary and a literature review, and still to come is a summary of the issues to talk about with your MP.

With thanks to the Rainbow Families Council (Vic)

So I finally thought to head over to the Rainbow Families Council Vic website, where they’ve just been through the same legislative drama – albeit with a much longer lead up. they have some fabulous resources there. If you want to be able to back up your emotive plea for understanding with some evidence, it’s all here.

Here are some starting points. I’ve set up a “research & resources” tab at the very top right of this page, where I can gather any useful information I come across.

The research says – A one-page summary of 25 years’ research into same sex parented families. There is a significant body of rigorous and methodologically sound research comparing outcomes for children raised in same-sex and opposite-sex parented families.  The majority of this research conducted in Australia and overseas has consistently found that children raised in same-sex parented families do at least as well as children in opposite-sex parented families in all significant areas. 

 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Parented Families – A literature review prepared for the Australian Psychological Society. It looks at parenting practices in same sex families; impact of same sex families on children; and relationships with donors.

Hot topics: common myths and concerns about lesbian parenting expressed by people concerned for the welfare of children

Frequently asked questions: many people don’t know that they probably know same sex parents. Here are some of the issues they may be curious about.