Transforming the Lives of Children
"If there is to be peace in the world we must begin with the children"
It is my great privilege to be the bearer of good news. Several years ago I submitted one of my articles to The Empathic Parenting Journal of the Canadian Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children. They not only printed my article, they used my quote "Let's raise children who won't have to recover from their childhood" on the cover. Jack Travis M.D., the founder and organizer of what has now become the international Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children (aTLC) saw that cover quote and said, "Who is Pam Leo?" He found out and called to invite me to come to Virginia and meet with some people, including Joseph Chilton Pearce, to hear more about his idea for a project he thought I'd be excited about.
For the last two and a half years I have had the honor of working with a dedicated group of experts in human development and human potential from around the world. We all have traveled to work together and have each spent hundreds of hours on conference calls and email to distill the best scientific research and ancient wisdom on what treatment of children allows them to thrive. Together we have devoted over 6,000 hours to creating The Proclamation for Transforming the Lives of Children. This document contains Principles for optimal physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development and a Blueprint of Actions designed to be a resource to guide parents and society in nurturing children to give them the best possible foundation for becoming healthy, happy, intelligent, loving, thriving human beings.
Even though there is now more information available than ever on optimal human development, this information has never before been made accessible to parents and caregivers. Too many children are not thriving. Many children are in crisis. Too many are not even surviving. Parenting is the most important job any of us will ever have and the one job for which we get no education or training. Expectant parents can take classes on giving birth, but once the child is born many parents feel unsupported and unprepared for the important task of raising children. Families today are facing the unprecedented challenges of the loss of the extended family, isolation and the toxic effects of modern-day stress. Our research confirmed that parents want, need and are seeking information, resources and support for nurturing their children.
"The Proclamation for Transforming the Lives of Children" is a synthesis of volumes of research by many experts who have devoted their lives to studying human development and human potential. Each of them had a piece of the parenting puzzle. We have worked hard to bring all the pieces together. We now know what treatment of children allows them to thrive. Phase one of our work is done and ongoing. Our next step is to get this information out to parents and society. Putting this information into the hands of parents and supporting parents in putting this information into practice has the potential to transform the lives of our children and our world.
Those readers who have read my articles over the years and/or have attended my workshops can really appreciate how thrilled I am to be one of the founding members of the Alliance and one of the creators of "The Proclamation for Transforming the Lives of Children." To have the work of supporting parents in fully nurturing their children now being promoted by an international alliance is a dream come true.
The Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children project is being launched this month. You can visit our website at www.aTLC.org to learn more about our vision, our mission, our board of directors, our board of advisors and what we offer to parents, expectant parents, single parents, grandparents, child care providers, educators, policy makers and anyone involved in the lives of children. We have plans to make this information available to through the website, articles, pamphlets, books, parenting classes, conferences, videos, cassettes, CDs, radio and television.
An alliance of individuals and organizations working together can make this information available and accessible to many more parents than any one of us could alone. Our first aTLC conference is planned for December 2002. We are inviting the individuals and organizations that work to support children and families in thriving, to endorse the Proclamation and join us in making this resource available to parents. By uniting with the many existing organizations that are already working with parents and children we hope to disseminate this resource very quickly. This project is not only an idea whose time has come; it is overdue. We have only to read or listen to the news to realize that "something is not right." Unprecedented numbers of children are killing themselves and each other. Our children need all of us to do the best we can now to give them what they need to thrive not just survive.
Unlike parenting how-to manuals based on behavior modification, the Blueprint for Action is the most comprehensive document ever written on what is required for parents and society to create conditions that foster optimal human development from preconception through early childhood. Just as we have learned what conditions nature requires for plants and animals to thrive, we have deciphered many of nature's requirements for human thriving.
In creating this evidence supported parenting resource, we found again and again that the latest scientific research supports many parenting practices that have been and still are part of the ancient wisdom of many other cultures. Birthing and parenting practices that secure and maintain a strong child-parent bond are essential for the optimal physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development of human beings. Every child needs a secure bond with at least one other human being if they are to develop trust, empathy, compassion and a conscience. The birthing and parenting practices that have evolved in our "high-tech /low-touch" society are undermining the wellbeing of our children, our families and our society. What we have been doing is not working for too many of our children and parents.
Many of us who worked on this project have grown children and grandchildren. For us, the most difficult part of putting together all of this information was working through our grief and regret that most of us did not have the benefit of this information when we were raising our own children. We had to keep telling ourselves (and each other) what I tell parents in my classes all the time, "We did the best we could with the information, resources and support we had at the time." What kept us going was the promise of a better way for our own children to parent their children and a better life for our grandchildren.
When parents complete my parenting series the feedback I most often get is, "I wish I'd had this information from the beginning." To which I reply, "I wish I had too." This guide for optimal human development will be of most benefit to expectant and new parents, but for those with older children it contains equally important information. For only if we know what optimal is can we know how optimal was compromised and how to compensate. We need to know what we can do now to strengthen the bond with our children and keep the bond strong.
Parenting never used to be (and was never intended to be) a one or two person job. Even the best parents, in the best of circumstances, need the support of community. Supporting all parents in optimally nurturing their children must become a high priority to all of us. No matter whose house children grow up in, the kind of human beings those children become will impact all of us. Those children, who now depend on us to care for them, will one day be the people we depend on to care for us.
This project is as dear to me as my "Meeting the Needs of Children" series. I can think of no work more worthy of our time, energy, resources and love. I invite each of you to join me in supporting and endorsing the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children.
Let's create peace on earth and let's begin with the children.
Please visit www.aTLC.org for more information.
Please send tax deductible donations to support the work of the Alliance to:
"Transforming the Lives of Children"