Taking Children Seriously FAQ (answers to frequently-asked questions)

Note that many of the questions are themselves (very understandable!) misunderstandings, assuming mistaken premises. Details in the answers.

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Why does parenting feel so hard?

What is Taking Children Seriously?

Children fending for themselves like adults?!

What do you mean by ‘paternalism’?

Which parenting style is Taking Children Seriously? Authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, or uninvolved?

How is the word ‘parenting’ not taking children seriously?

If children are people just like adults, why should we treat our children any differently from how we treat adults?

Surely it is natural for parents to control their children?

Does Taking Children Seriously mean children always getting their own way?

Surely children are not born knowing right and wrong?

What do you have against coercion?

Surely coercion is ok when the parent is right and the child is wrong?

If I am not allowed to coerce my child, surely I am being coerced myself?

How do you solve problems where there is a conflict of interest?

How can I tell if a proposed solution is a real solution?

How is a compromise not a real solution?

Is it necessary to reject authority?

Is the purpose of taking children seriously to avoid the harm coercion would do?

Do children not taught that they can’t always get their own way become entitled and inconsiderate?

What do you have against gentle coercion?

What if my child wants to buy every toy in the shop, and does not consult me?

Is coercion always wrong?

How do you intervene non-coercively when one child is attacking another?

I’m a vegetarian. What if my child wants to eat meat?

What if my child wants me to help her murder someone?

What if your child wants to drive?

Surely criticism is always good?

If criticism is valuable why not be more critical?

Who am I to criticise someone else?

Why not argue for Taking Children Seriously in terms of rights?

What do you mean by ‘knowledge’?

What do you mean by ‘creativity’?

Surely children need to learn to deal with restrictions to prepare them for life in society?

Surely children need discipline to teach them self-discipline?

How do you take babies seriously?

How can we communicate urgent information to our pre-verbal toddlers?

Surely it is necessary to coerce children to avoid them doing unsafe or unethical things?

Is hiding medicine in your child’s food wrong?

What if… ?

What do you do when your child says “Go away” or “I don’t want to talk about it?”

If we are fallible and not omniscient, surely it is exaggerating to say it is always possible to solve problems without coercion?

Why not say that the policy is non-coercion except on important issues?

Surely suffering and frustration make us stronger?

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.?

If my five-year-old were allowed to open the garden gate, she would be off wandering all over the neighbourhood and might be run over or kidnapped or murdered etc.

Surely it is not coercive to have a rule that whenever our child goes out, he must first tell us where he is going and for how long? What about being a responsible parent?!

Our 15-year-old wants to hitchhike to Outer Mongolia by herself. We think she is not yet “street-wise” enough. What should we do?

Is Taking Children Seriously only for the rich?

Surely the lack of that extra money is a comparative disadvantage?

What if my child both hates school and likes being in school with all his friends?

How can we express approval when our children do something good without manipulating them by implying that we would disapprove if they had made a different choice?

How do you determine what food to give your children?

How do you teach table manners?

How did Taking Children Seriously start?

What is the relationship between Karl Popper’s epistemology, the ideas of David Deutsch and Taking Children Seriously?

Do children taken seriously ever ask permission?

If you are not coercing your child, what do you do instead of coercion?

What is wrong with loving limits for children?

Equal relationships with our children?! How are parents and children are equals?!

What do you do about vaccinating your children?

What ages is Taking Children Seriously most powerful for, or how does its value change with age? When is it almost too late?

What kind of children is Taking Children Seriously not a good idea for?

In what ways is Taking Children Seriously different from simply taking everybody seriously?

Does taking children seriously mean not influencing them?

If we should take babies seriously, should we not take pigs seriously too?

Surely we should communicate our disapproval to our children?

Why does it sometimes hurt to think about Taking Children Seriously?

If coercion has impaired my ability to correct errors, is taking children seriously even possible?

If a parent has an aversion to something a child enjoys doing, how do you solve that problem?

Why do parents coerce their children despite having been through it themselves?

Why did my mother’s coercive words fly out of my mouth?!

If anti-rational memes are compelling me to coerce my children, what hope is there?!

How can I overcome the antirational memes disabling my creativity, with my disabled creativity?!

How can I become more aware of anti-rational parts in my mind?

How can I drop the anti-rational part of my mind that interferes with me taking my children seriously?

What is the rationalist mistake?

What about instilling values like freedom, fallibilism and the idea of taking children seriously?

Are you advocating that the children should rule the parents?!

When a solution is not found, is it always the parents who must bear the brunt of the sacrifice?

How do you handle the issue of other people coercing your child?

What is the psychological impact of not taking children seriously?

Isn’t taking children seriously a risky experiment with children? Is there any evidence that it works? Has it been studied?

Unless we get children to try different things, how will they ever learn which things are fun and which are not fun?

Surely kids need to be forced to learn maths?

Surely studies show that parents have little impact on how people turn out?

Surely it is cruel to force people to live with the consequences of the ideas and preferences they had when they were children?

What do you mean by non-coercive? What is the difference between coercion and non-coercion?

What do you mean by ‘coercionist’?

Why do you like IFS but not ‘Self-led parenting’?

What if your child runs into traffic?

Will a child not made to do chores ever develop a work ethic? And if not, how will they ever have a good life?

How do you raise a child to believe in freedom?

What if your baby keeps grabbing your nose ring and cannot be reasoned with?

What do you mean by ‘fallible’?

How will credential-less children survive?

How do you tell pre-verbal children about dangers given that they do not understand explanations?

What do you mean by ‘problem’?

What do you mean by ‘having an agenda’ for your children? Are all wants for your children agendas?

What does education taking children seriously look like?

Help! My baby hates diaper changes! Ideas for baby-pleasing solutions

What do you mean by ‘theory’?

My child refuses to wear a coat in the cold! Help!

How is the parent-child situation more complicated than the adult-adult one?

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, ‘Taking Children Seriously FAQ (answers to frequently-asked questions)’, https://takingchildrenseriously.com/faq/