“I agree that coercion should be minimised but you are surely not suggesting that gentle coercion would be a problem in cases where the parent is right and the child in the wrong?”
That’s like saying: “I agree that coercion should be minimised but you are surely not suggesting that gentle coercion would be a problem in cases where the husband is right and the wife is in the wrong?”
Here is another one:
“I am with you when it comes to time outs and other authoritarian coercion – I’d never hit my kid – but what do you have against gentle coercion?”
That’s like saying: “I am with you when it comes to time outs and other authoritarian coercion – I’d never hit my wife – but what do you have against gentle coercion?”
Disagreements can either be resolved through reason, or they can be dealt with coercively. Forcing an outcome can appear to be ‘gentle’ from our own perspective – no harsh words spoken, let alone anything more obviously coercive like striking the child – but what is the child’s experience of it? Does it feel gentle to the child? How would it feel if it were you yourself being coerced?
What effect would it have on you if it were not just a one-off but a feature of your marriage, say?
What if your beloved sister were married to a man who could see nothing problematic about using what from his perspective was ‘gentle’ coercion to impose his will on your sister? And he was only doing it “for her own good” (i.e., paternalistically). Would you see your sister’s husband’s ‘gentle coercion’ the way you see your ‘gentle coercion’ of your child?
If the coercion is as soft and gentle as you think it is, how is it having its intended effect of forcing the child to obey you? You see the soft gentleness of a velvet glove; your child sees the iron fist inside. It is the iron fist that is doing the work. It is the iron fist that is the underlying reality, the coercive substance under the surface velvet.
The velvet glove may make the iron fist less obvious, such that the child feels compelled and does not know why, but if so, now we are in gaslighting territory. Why not be straightforward with the child instead?
- What do you have against coercion?
- A commitment to figuring it out
- Fallibilism as a way of being and acting
Sarah Fitz-Claridge, Taking Children Seriously FAQ: ‘What do you have against gentle coercion?’, https://takingchildrenseriously.com/what-do-you-have-against-gentle-coercion/