Consent-based parenting: my personal perspective

“After months of striving to practice the best of Taking Children Seriously theories, my family is starting to behave in natural harmony together.”
– Rebecca Robb


From the archives: First published in Taking Children Seriously 25, 1998

Have you ever watched a mother duck with her ducklings swimming along on a lake? She goes wherever she thinks is right and the ducklings line up behind her. If one darts off, the mother swings the group around and includes it in safety again.

What makes a school of fish swim together in perfect synchrony? They dart about this way and that, each obeying the common movement of the group.

Birds, too, will flock and fly in unison. I have often observed these things in the animal world and thought I should see the same amongst our human families. After months of striving to practice the best of Taking Children Seriously theories, my family is starting to behave in natural harmony together. With their permission, I will give you an example this.

Our family of five decided to go on a shopping trip. We had quite a few stops to make, but everybody was glad to be along. No one was being denied any desire. If a desire seemed to be amiss, it was met with moral reasoning, not force. Thus a right desire was improved upon, and the rare wrong one harmlessly destroyed. We made many spontaneous decisions in this way, and the group darted this way and that in what could mostly be called concord.

At one point the group split into two. I went gladly with the two smallest children into a store full of craft and decorating items. There was candy, dainty breakables, flashy holiday things, and craft materials everywhere. We calmly walked by all these together as I went straight to work looking for the items I wanted. After a little while, the children became interested in something and I turned from my thoughts to look with them. I suggested a few more areas of mutual interest, which we pursued. So back and forth we went, following each other about the store, until all were satisfied. After buying a few items, including lollipops, we left the store. The others were just driving up to get us.

Later, while shopping for groceries, one of the children said she wanted to leave. ‘Okay,’ was my immediate response. But, there was one more item I really wanted to get: the frozen blueberries. Courteously, I asked the child if she would mind if I got those before we left. ‘Sure,’ she said. I was ready to leave, but then she decided she wanted to buy some donuts. While she did, I threw some more things in the cart. Eventually, we were all ready, and happily helped each other check out and get the groceries into the van. Shopping has never been so much fun!

I am so glad for consent-based parenting. I was flipping through an old dictionary the other day (Webster’s from 1847) and my eyes fell on the word consent. Here, in part, is the 150 year old definition:

1. Literally, to think with another. Hence, to agree or accord. More generally, to agree in mind and will;

So… what makes birds flock together, or fish dart about in a school? How does a mother duck so gently guide her family and keep them safe? How does a human family peacefully navigate the wonders and dangers of a complex world?

Only mental rightness can do such things. That is mostly what Taking Children Seriously is about: being right together mentally. Only truth can guide this process. In my opinion, God or Mind, is Truth, and is the author of all right ideas. I would never feel safe advocating consent-based living without a basis of Truth in all-powerful Love. Moral reasoning from this standpoint can include no harm.

To you who are Taking Children Seriously: keep seeking truth! You are doing mankind a great service by sharing your findings. No amount of resistance from detractors can blot out daily good results.

See also:

Rebecca Robb, 1998, ‘Consent-based parenting: my personal perspective’, Taking Children Seriously 25, ISSN 1351-5381, pp. 11-12,