Taking Children Seriously
The boy who would not be tamed
Parents can help their child stay the rebel that society needs to stay healthy, by allowing unfettered conversations going wherever the child’s curiosity takes them.
Taking ourselves seriously
Many people undervalue what they want to do compared to what they think other people want them to do. They think that they need to be obedient, without understanding or feeling good about why they have chosen to do so. Doing this to yourself is bad enough. But doing it to someone else, such as your child, is even worse, because now it is not just yourself and your own reason you are violating and harming, it is another person.
Isn’t school necessary for children to learn?
A child who is completely free to learn and whose learning is not being monitored and assessed is empowered. Their learning is for themselves, not because an authority figure asked them to memorise and regurgitate a set of facts or ideas.
How do you raise a child to believe in freedom?
This question is in effect asking “How do I mould and shape my child into a person who believes that individuals should be free from unwanted moulding and shaping by others?”
Instead of Cry It Out, try bedtime anarchy
Why subjecting your baby to the Cry it Out method is a mistake, and how bedtime anarchy can be delightful.
Criticism scheduling and privacy
Unwanted criticism can cripple thinking, destroying the means of error correction and the growth of knowledge.
What do you mean by non-coercive? What is the difference between coercion and non-coercion?
Non-coercive = embracing others exactly the way they are, and they can change if they want to and they don’t have to. Coercive = trying to control, fix or change others against their will.
How is she sleeping?
Trying to implement ‘expert’ advice that doesn’t feel right to you makes life much harder for you with a new baby. Listening to your own wisdom about the sleep issue can make all the difference.
If a parent has an aversion to something a child enjoys doing, how do you solve that problem?
Such questions are in effect asking how we and our children can solve the problem created by us in effect having a visceral aversion to our children innocently enjoying themselves learning. Why is that the case, and when we are in such a state, what can we do about it?
Equal relationships with our children?! How are parents and children are equals?!
Children are no less creative and rational than adults, whether or not they yet have the explicit language in which to express themselves.
What is wrong with loving limits for children?
Adding “loving” to “limits” does not make the limits non-coercive, it just adds confusing mixed messages to the coercion. The parents are coercing the child while acting as though that is not what they are doing. They are pretending that they are not responsible for the distress they are in fact causing.
If you are not coercing your child, what do you do instead of coercion?
This question is like a coercively controlling husband asking: “If you are not coercing your wife, what do you do instead of coercion?” A paternalistic husband who controls his wife out of the best of intentions because he honestly believes that it is for her own good, could ask the same question.
How did Taking Children Seriously start?
Wikipedia is mistaken about how Taking Children Seriously started. This is how it actually started.
At what age should children first leave the house on their own, visit their friend next door on their own, go to the cinema on their own, hitchhike from coast to coast on their own, etc.?
In a relationship characterised by consent, on those occasions when the other person is warning us that our proposed course of action may be unwise, and explaining why, we have every reason to trust that such warnings are not attempts to thwart us and ruin our fun, but are actually important – that it is actually in our best interests to heed the warnings.
Surely children need to learn to deal with restrictions to prepare them for life in society?
How do you distinguish between restrictions on our behaviour that are good for us and those that aren’t? The restrictions on our behaviour that are good for us are ones we agree with. And when we agree with them, they are not restrictions on our behaviour anyway.
How is the word ‘parenting’ not taking children seriously?
Why is it that there is a word “parenting” but no word “childing”? Because in our culture, children are not taken seriously. Words like “parenting” embody the idea of hierarchical, top-down paternalistic/authoritarian parent-child relationships in which the parent is actively doing to the child and the child is passively done to. The parent is actively moulding and shaping the child from above.
Which parenting style is Taking Children Seriously? Authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, or uninvolved?
Taking Children Seriously is not permissive, uninvolved, authoritarian or authoritative. Those approaches coerce children instead of taking them seriously as full people whose lives are their own.
What do you mean by ‘paternalism’?
Paternalism is the idea that certain people or groups need to be controlled (in a benevolent fatherly way) for their own good.
Children fending for themselves like adults?!
Children very much need our love and protection, our care and attention, fun and play, support and vast amounts of engagement with their ideas and interests. They are not born able to survive and thrive without us. Only in the case of children do people think that needing support, protection, assistance, information and other things implies not having the same freedom, rights, respect and control over their lives as others.
What is Taking Children Seriously?
Taking Children Seriously is a new VIEW of children – a non-paternalistic view: like other groups of human beings, children are people, not pets, prisoners or property. Full people whose lives are their own, not a different kind of person – full, equal humans who should no more be coerced and manipulated and moulded and shaped by others than we adults should be.
How to read this site
Ultimately, we all (including our children!) have to do what we ourselves think best, what feels right to us ourselves, not what someone else says is right. We are all moral agents in our own right. When we self-coercively override our own wisdom and do what someone else thinks we should be doing, we are acting wrongly by our own lights. No good can come of that. Treat this site as a source of speculative guesses and interesting arguments, not as an authority you should obey.
Friendly criticisms of Kiss Me, by Carlos González
Friendly criticisms of this warm, charming, beautiful book that is absolutely brilliant at showing us how it is for our babies and young children, creating empathy, and at doing that with gentle humour and without demonising parents.
Taking Children Seriously: a new view of children
Taking Children Seriously is a new VIEW of children – a non-paternalistic view: children do not actually need to be controlled for their own good. An Oxford Karl Popper Society talk.
The Taking Children Seriously survey
The survey showed that favouring coercion over any one issue is not a good predictor of favouring coercion over any other issue, even an issue that the majority considers more important. The fact that so many parents believe that so many others have got their priorities the wrong way round is very hard to explain in the conventional terms of ‘strict’ vs. ‘lenient’ enforcement of a larger or smaller core of objectively important things. Most of us can see quite easily the irrationality of many other people’s justifications for coercing children. But it is in the nature of irrationality that we cannot see our own.
Question or command?
Parents sometimes imagine that phrasing a command as a question will somehow make it more palatable for the child, but it doesn’t.
Housework help for a harried mother
How do real-life parents gracefully navigate housework and chores in a home that seems endlessly messy or disorganised?
Requiring children to do chores
Professor David Deutsch on why making children do chores is immoral.
The importance of video games
Videogame players are learning not just knowledge of the overt subject-matter of the game, but inexplicit knowledge that applies in all creativity in the world. In a way, they are (mainly inexplicitly) learning how the universe works.
A discussion about whether problems are solvable
Making the case that problems are actually soluble.
How do our angry critical outbursts look from a different perspective?
Noticing the differences between tone of voice we find acceptable with our children vs with other people, or thinking about how our tone of voice might look to a third party, can be eye-opening.
Creativity and untidiness
Professor David Deutsch explains why he says that he could not be very productive without also being untidy.
Both coercion and “doing nothing” are mistakes
Children have to do what they themselves think is right, with no pressure whatsoever – that’s what non-coercion amounts to – but they also have a right to be told morality as best we see it.
How would you like it?
Imagine if your husband denied you dinner because you had not yet completed the chores he had decided you must do before dinner…
Common emotional blackmail
Why some children run away, but others do not. Using love as leverage to double-bind children to obey – threatening to withdraw the relationship – is wrong. Children have a right to our love.
How to talk so your kids will be manipulated
Many parenting books advocate manipulating children using dishonest language evading responsibility for the coercion the parent is engaging in
Video games: a unique educational environment
Professor David Deutsch on why he himself values and plays video games, and why the arguments against them are mistaken.
Autonomous learning, autonomous life
This 1989 workshop advocated taking children seriously, not just ‘autonomous learning’.