What Does Life Look Like for Autonomous Kids?
Parenting / Unschooling

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like

All children have a right to autonomy. This means they should be in control of their bodies, minds, and time.

Mainstream parenting is firmly against this idea. The majority of people believe that all decisions about a child’s life and even their own bodies, from how they dress, to what they eat, to when they sleep, to how they spend their time, to control of their personal possessions, are the right of the parent.

Evidently, human rights only apply to people of a certain age.

I obviously disagree.

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like

“Autonomy is characterized by a feeling of being free. People are happier and healthier when they feel autonomous. This sense of well-being is maximized when young people behave in a way that’s consistent with their internal values and wishes, as opposed to the values and wishes of others. Support for autonomy also promotes empathy. When our need for autonomy is satisfied we’re more likely to feel positive.” -Teresa Graham Brett, Parenting for Social Change

I think the main reason people are so vehemently opposed to extending the right of autonomy to children is that they just cannot imagine how it would work, or what it would look like. Very few people have seen examples of this and were themselves strictly controlled as children. Not to mention the warnings about ‘kids these days’ not being controlled enough and turning into terrible monsters who eat chocolate all day, cut up all the furniture, and are probably plotting to take over the world.

Let’s all calm down a minute.

In our house and the houses of many of the other families I know, children have freedom and autonomy. They choose what to do and when, as long as it doesn’t infringe on another person’s rights, and our homes have not descended into chaos. In fact, the children are kind, respectful, helpful, generous, capable, motivated, and awesome company (you can read more about that here).

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like

This is our normal, and it’s actually really simple. It just means treating children like human beings, with as many rights as everyone else in the house. I’d love to shed some light on what autonomy looks like in everyday life, in the hopes that people will see that it’s not actually complicated, it’s not risky, and it is achievable.

What Does Life Look Like for Autonomous Kids?


When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like

It looks like children choosing their own clothing, with no judgment or coercion. Children have awesome style, even if it’s not conventional. Clothing is one way they may express themselves, and we accept them for that!

It looks like conversations and sharing information so children can make choices about appropriate clothing.

“We’re going on a bush walk today, some other shoes might be safer to walk in”

“It’s really cold outside, do you think you could choose something warmer today?”

It means if those requests are refused then we throw some shoes or a jacket in the car anyway, in case it is needed later, instead of forcing the issue.

Body modification

It’s not making any modification to your child’s body without their consent. That includes haircuts, ear piercing, hair coloring, circumcision, etc. People do not have the right to make these decisions for other people. Children are people too.

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like


It looks like people eating on their own schedules, according to their own hunger. There is no forced eating, no coercion e.g. ‘one more bite for Mummy’, no punishment or threats, no rewards, no arbitrary rules like ‘no dessert if you don’t eat your dinner’. It’s providing healthy foods, letting children have an input into what they would like for dinner, and making space for them to help prepare things. It’s enjoying eating together without any pressure.

It’s recognising that the best way to promote healthy eating is to not comment on someone’s eating habits at all.

It’s focusing on your own limits, instead of trying to change your child…

“I’m sorry, I don’t feel able to make different meals for everyone at dinner time, how can we make sure everyone is happy? I could leave some meat and veggies out before adding the sauce so you can eat them separately/ you could help yourself to a sandwich or piece of fruit/ I could leave the parts you don’t like off your plate, etc”

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like


It’s people choosing sleep at a time that makes sense for their own body, no matter their age. Adults are free to sleep when tired, and children can too. It’s not having set bedtimes, but helping children to wind down, listen to their bodies, and find sleep when they are ready.

It’s communication and problem-solving when needs don’t align…

“I’m feeling really sleepy and I want to go to bed now, are you ready?”

“I’d really like to go to bed, maybe you could come and lie with me until you’re ready for sleep so that I can rest?”

“It’s getting late now and I like to relax in the evenings, I’m sorry I don’t feel like playing right now, is there something else we can do together that’s quiet?”

“Other people are sleeping and I’m worried that the noise will disturb them, could you please try to be quiet?”

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like

It’s supporting an understanding of our bodies needs, empathising with tiredness after a late night, and helping children tune into their body’s own requirements for sleep.

“You’re feeling tired? Last night was a late one, wasn’t it? It seems like you’re body is needing more rest. How can we make sure you’re getting the rest you need?”

Read more about autonomous sleep here.


It looks like conversations about matters of hygiene, instead of rules and force. It’s realistic expectations and compromise.

It sounds like…

“Hey you didn’t shower yesterday and you’ve been playing outside in the dirt today, want to come have a quick shower now so that you don’t get dirt all through your bed?”


“I understand, you don’t want to right now, when would be a good time for you?”


“How can we make this easier for you? Would you like a bath? Could I sit with you and read you a book? Would you like bubbles? Do you want to do it super quickly?”

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like


“I’m worried that if you don’t brush your teeth you could get cavities, it’s really important to brush every day, can I help you?”

It’s finding creative solutions like nice tasting toothpaste or leave in conditioner that helps get the tangles out more easily. It’s accepting a work-in-progress. One missed teeth brushing or some grubby feet in the bed are not the end of the world, you can try again tomorrow.


It’s not forcing affection on children. It’s asking for a kiss or cuddle before you do it (or don’t do it, depending on the answer). It not using guilt to try and get your way, like ‘oh I am sad you won’t give me a cuddle’. It’s respecting children’s rights to control who they show affection to, or not, and empowering them to know they don’t have to be responsible for other people’s feelings about that.

It’s standing up for them when others try to do the same thing.

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like

It’s encouraging them to be respectful of other people’s autonomy as well. It’s being supportive and empathetic during disagreements with siblings as they learn to navigate this area.

“Your sister would like some space right now. I can’t let you touch her. Remember, her body her choice. Is there something I can help with instead?”


It’s children choosing how they spend their time. Whether that’s playing outside, reading books, playing on the computer, painting, watching tv, sleeping, eating, writing letters, seeing friends, going to the park, or a million other things.

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like

It’s negotiations when needs don’t align…

“You really want to go and see friends today, but your sister doesn’t feel like going out? How can we work this out? Is there a way that we can make going out easier for you? Or are you happy to stay home today and go out tomorrow instead?”

“I have an appointment, I’m sorry but we have to go soon, would you like to bring that toy with you so you can continue playing?”

“You both want to use the computer? How can we make sure everyone gets to do what they need to do?”


It’s respecting children’s property. If a child owns something, whether toys or clothes, then it is theirs to do with what they like. It’s not confiscated at the whim of parents, or used as a bargaining tool. Children’s possessions are theirs. They don’t have to share them and they cannot be taken away against their will.

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like


It looks like trusting children to know their own bodies and capabilities. Not telling them ‘that’s too hard for you’ or ‘you’re too little’. But letting them try. Letting them experience life. Being there to support them if they struggle, but allowing them to own their own experiences instead of taking over. Children learn by doing, and they want to be involved in real things. Respecting autonomy means letting them do that.

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like


It’s speaking in a way that conveys consent, rather than orders and demands. There is no ‘because I said so’ or ‘do as you’re told’. Children have a right to question, disagree, negotiate, and express their view. It’s asking for cooperation instead of demanding compliance.

Read more about the language of consent here.

Information and Support

Respecting children’s autonomy means open discussions about health and safety. It means providing information about why certain things (i.e. hygiene) are important, supporting children to find the way they are most comfortable to achieve these things, and empathising when it feels hard. It means communicating nonviolently, listening to feelings and needs, and finding ways that everyone is comfortable with. It’s recognising that children want to make healthy choices, and they might need some guidance in that area, but they don’t need force. It’s an understanding that in the context of a respectful and connected relationship, children are able to listen to their bodies and their needs, without the influence of power plays.

It’s being as respectful as possible in cases of medically necessary treatment.


It’s recognising the power of modeling. If you want children to be kind, respectful, helpful, polite, and empathetic, then you yourself must show them kindness, respect, helpfulness, manners, and empathy. You cannot override their autonomy and then be surprised when they are demanding of you.

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like

Autonomy is basically living with children as equals. Although we may have different needs, we respect everyone’s right to make their own choices, for their own body.

It does not mean children will be destructive and out of control. It does not mean we don’t support and guide them when needed. It does not mean our own rights are compromised. It is simply taking the time to have a conversation. It is working with our children, instead of against them.

It means figuring out the best way for everyone to feel comfortable and have their needs met, instead of simply dishing out rules and demands. It’s not about what works in terms of compliance, but what children deserve in terms of rights and respect.

It is entirely possible to live with children and respect their autonomy. In fact, it’s a lot more peaceful.

“Controlling parenting, despite its mainstream acceptance, damages children even as it fails to achieve the very goals on which it is allegedly focused. We must actively and resoundingly reject controlling parenting in spite of the cultural pressure we may face.” –Teresa Graham Brett

When Children Do Whatever They Want: What Autonomy Looks Like


Lydia purple
September 17, 2017 at 5:48 pm

I believe one of the roots of controlling parenting is a misconception of what authority is. Because parents do have authority over their children. I think the best definition of authority is “power to influence”, but society confuses authority with “right to control” – which is actually nonexistent. Nobody has the right to control anyone except themselves. When we look at authority as “power to influence” things actually make more sense. As the origin of our children’s life, we are automatically the most influential people in their lives. Even if a parent chooses to opt out of their child’s life, he still has authority over her. We know that because a child who has been rejected by a parent in this way has a profound damage done to his soul. If you’re the parent of a child whatever you choose to do will influence your child’s life like nothing else. Let’s use this power to love unconditionally and show respect. To accept them for who they are and to guide them gently. It’s the best we can do.

The word author is closely related to that. An author has power over what he writes in his book, but he has no control over how the readers receive his message. The better his skill at choosing the right words to express himself the clearer the message is received. I think this is exactly what you describe for parenting. When your values, your actions and your words line up your children will most likely become the kind of people you wish for them to be (not in a sense of making them into something you imagine but in the sense of living according to the values that you aim for) But if we think we can raise kind kids by being demanding or punishing to them that just messes up the message we are sending them. It creates confusion. It makes it harder for the child to figure out how this life is supposed to work and it most likely creates some damage to their self worth.

    September 17, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    Yes! I love this quote “The reality that adults have more power than children, however, does not mean that it is appropriate or necessary for us to exercise control over them. Rather, it means that we have an obligation to consciously choose how to use our power. We can choose to use our greater power to control children and coerce them to do what we want. We can choose to do nothing with our power. But we can also choose to use our power to support, assist, and facilitate the growth and learning of children in ways that affirm their personal power, dignity, and humanity.” -Teresa Graham Brett

September 17, 2017 at 9:53 pm

I feel so sad because I try hard to do it this way but I get so frustrated when my son does things that I don’t like. And if I ask him to not do that or explain why I ask him that, or tell him that I don’t like it when he is doing that, or explain what he can do instead, he ignores me, and goes on with what he is doing. I feel frustrated because I treat him with respect and listen to his needs, but he doesn’t listen to my needs. It makes me so angry that I yell and afterwards I feel guilty. How can I get out of this?? (My son is 2,5)

    November 28, 2017 at 10:32 am

    I’m a big fan of the wrap around concept that I’ve heard best described through a Brene Brown class online. It is basically the acknowledgement that we aren’t always going to get it “just right” when it comes to interacting with kids (or anyone for that matter). So instead of attempting to hold yourself to some form of unattainable perfection, when you recognize that you’ve made a mistake (or just something you have realized you want to do differently) you reconnect and get it right. This can be 10 seconds, minutes, days, etc. after the interaction…once you realize that you have a better idea, you “wrap back around” and communicate the new understanding. So to use your example, after the above happens, you could take as much time as you need to be calm (so that you can speak from a place of compassion and not shame) and then kindly let your child know exactly how you feel: “I’m so sorry that I yelled at you. That was not a good choice that I made. Next time, I will try to…” You could also add a statement about your feelings, “I feel frustrated because I try to treat you with respect and listen to your needs, but I don’t feel like you are listening to my needs. Next time I am feeling upset, I will take a deep breath and talk to you more calmly about how I am feeling.” He may not understand everything at his age, but it’s never too early to model good behavior and scaffold learning by including new words in sentences as well as familiar words. It’s also important to be aware that he likely does not know what you need, so using “I statements” is a great way to share how you feel and what is important to you at a given moment. With all of this, just keep in mind that we are usually not very good at things we haven’t practiced, so you may have to do this a lot at first, but please know that you will, without a doubt, get a little better at it every time you do it. (And when that happens, remember to give yourself credit for your effort 🙂

      May 21, 2020 at 11:57 am

      Ok that’s great but the problem with these articles is there’s new real advice about how to correct horrible behavior. Have you really never had a child lose their mind in a tantrum because you told them that they can’t hurt and bully their brother? Or in this persons example, COMPLETELY IGNORE them and behave badly. You want to give your child unlimited autonomy. “Their toys can not be taken away from them” ok so we don’t strike our children. How exactly to give consequences? We talk through everything but not every child learns to not behave badly. What exactly do you do when you say “please do not eat any of the left over birthday when you wake up. We told your friends we would save them some and you can have the rest after lunch” but instead your 8 and 10 year old eat half a cake before 8 am. What then?

        July 3, 2020 at 9:49 am

        Hi Katherine,

        I drafted a long response to you over a few days trying to offer some helpful ideas and then I realized it was just more of the same and I didn’t want to do that to you. Reflecting further I think the first thing I want to say about being ignored is that it sucks and you don’t deserve that. I think you’re right that there’s little to be done that’s really satisfying in the immediate aftermath of that kind of poor behavior. You’re hurt and frustrated and rightfully so and if your kid is ignoring you, they probably don’t have the emotional intelligence yet to show you the empathy you deserve.

        For what it’s worth, here are a few thoughts on what I might try in the birthday cake situation:

        – Communicate How I Felt (the more calmly the better, but I would be emotionally vulnerable & honest about exactly how I felt & why). “I feel so hurt and disrespected when you don’t listen to me, because I need to know that when I ask you to do something that’s important you’ll listen.”

        – Model Self Care. “I’m going to go take a break for a few minutes and then I’d like to talk about why this happened.”

        – Wrap Around – Once I was ready, I would sit down with them and ask, “What was that about? Why did you ignore me?” I’d seek to understand their thoughts and feelings and then ask, “What do you think needs to be done to make it right?”

        TLDR: Being ignored hurts and your kids should absolutely hear that from you. When kids learn to talk about their needs in a calm moment, shared respect and understanding can be built. Restorative justice is a great topic to explore how to communicate about grievances and discuss natural consequences that lead to changes in behavior. (It originated in justice reform, so there are a lot more resources there, but here’s one that’s directed at using it at home: https://www.parenttoday.org/bringing-the-lessons-of-restorative-justice-home/)

        Hope some of that is helpful 🙂

September 17, 2017 at 11:35 pm

I love this. This is how we mostly raise our children. But what would you do with a young child, 4, who doesn’t really care what the explainations are? The child who only want to eat pb&j for dinner. Refuses to try anything else & then cries all night how hungry he is. The child who doesn’t want to go to bed, no matter how tired he is & keeps himself awake out of pure determination until 2am everyday & then up at 6am with no naps. The child who gets zombiefied from tv & cant hear anything else going on in the world when it is on & refuses to turn it off. He literally could watch from breakfast until he finally falls asleep. How does giving him the freedom to make decisions when they are clearly not healthy for him. Or how does that conversation go when the parent has to make the decision for the child with no room for discussion or negotiations. I’m having a hard time with these types of areas & cant figure out how to bridge the gap to help him not only see how I see things but to also get him to agree that my idea is a good idea & have him go along with it. This is the part of having autonomous children that no one talks about.

    Kenza Saadi
    September 18, 2017 at 12:47 am

    If I may, I just want to say that autonomy does not mean there is no structure. The child learns from his environment in many ways.
    If he wants to stay up late, it does not mean the parent should. Go to bed and tell him he can join you if he wants. He will eventually do so (especially if the lights are out) and fall asleep beside you. It will happen a few nights in a row and then he will know what to do.
    He wants unhealthy food for dinner, why have it in the house in the first place? Think a little ahead if I may say so and eliminate before hand anything that may become controversial.
    For example, you know he likes to climb on rocks, so do not take him to a place where the rocks are close to a cliff (!) but in a safe area where you know if he falls the hurt will be minimal.
    Also I think with time things have a way of smoothing out and as a child sees that the parent trusts him or her, he starts acting in a way that is safe and respectful for himself and others.
    I hope I have not been too bold in writing this.
    Thank you. Kenza. (single mother of an eight and half unschooled and oh goodness! autonomous child.)

    December 8, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Thank You! My wild two year old isn’t capable of some of these decision making examples. Because he’s two. And honestly, my twelve year old would have horrific teeth and be obese had I let him choose everything by himself.

      February 7, 2019 at 11:23 pm

      I feel this way with my stepchild who has ADHD. We tried hard to balance structure (ie. keeping healthy options around, making sure she had her own personal care items, options to earn and save money of her own, time daily to do what she wanted on devices/outside/in her own room, freedom to shave her hair/cut it into mohawks/patterns etc.). It never seemed like enough, she always wanted more more more of every thing cycling through tasks/toys/activities/food/hair styles every few minutes/days. I always said she seemed like an “if you give a mouse a cookie” kid. She would store 10-14 outfits at school and change in and out of them throughout the day, she would eat raw cookie dough/cups of baking sugar/bakers chocolate chips/ any baking supply/frozen goods constantly eating, no end in sight. She seemed like she just couldn’t settle into making lasting/quality decisions regarding self control. After about 4 years we moved to a “more scheduled” day with a routine bed time (which included wind down time starting at 8pm, reading a book, turning off electronics, clearing her room of extraneous toys) and she seemed to suddenly put herself to bed at 9:30 pm at the latest. We moved to a system of her picking clothing for the week on hangers marked with the days/school activity (ie. gym class) and she was able to prepare herself in the morning without needing to stuff her bag full of belongings or arguing. We made a “snack” station in the dining room with a box of snacks ONLY SHE ate, and for some reason being the only one to have them made her happier like she was more special than others in the house. We never master the electronics — to this day she fixates on video game universes to the detriment of her homework/personal relationships/ jobs/family … I think autonomy is learned not just “given”in some cases. Learning has to start early with simple choices provided by a child’s primary care givers/parents/family. Children are still little and making every choice can be overwhelming to some lead to anxiety/self control issues and as a result self esteem issues. Some kids do need more structure than others, and greater parental support. Not that they shouldn’t have freedoms, just freedoms within boundaries to help them succeed.

September 17, 2017 at 11:40 pm

Love this! My husband and I are thinking about preparing for a family of our own, and I often wonder/worry about myself as a child and if they’ll end up like me as teenagers. The worst of my years was when I decided I was going to claim my own autonomy (I was about 15 – super fun for my parents) and made a lot of choices I wish I hadn’t because it was the first time I was exploring in my own space. And I felt ashamed about it because that exploration wasn’t really something my parents supported. They are great, loving people, but my sisters and I definitely had rules and strict boundaries.

It looks like your children are young, but since you are giving them that space of their own to explore now, I would think that by the time they’re in their teen years they’ll already have so much more of a sense of responsibility than some of us with more controlling parents did. Not to say they won’t make ANY choices they regret, because we all do, but they’ll already know the consequences of certain actions and will know that their parents have their backs when they need it. I think this is beautiful. I’m new to WordPress but looking forward to reading more of your blog!

Kenza Saadi
September 18, 2017 at 12:38 am

Beautifully written. One feels it is from the heart.
Many people are afraid or better yet too cautious to allow autonomy and yet, once the child feels he is respected and listened to, things generally flow gently. There can be some bumps on the way but with time things seem to get smoothed out. The parent needs to get rid of preconceived idea about what a child can and cannot do. I often just go back to my childhood and think how I would have liked things to be and how I felt.
Thank you for this post.

September 21, 2017 at 11:03 am

Thank you for this. I have been reading your words for months and am slowly starting to envision a bigger picture and understand how to implement these ideas in my home. Coming from a home with much neglect these ideas sometimes scare me. I craved guidance, encouragement, affection, etc…giving my children autonomy sometimes feels like I am being Uncaring. I love what you said about Modeling. That makes everything click into place. The balance of respect and love; autonomy and being a cherished part of the family; influencing, not controlling. The more I read the more wisdom I gain. Thank you.

Francois Tremblay
September 23, 2017 at 7:19 am

Do you ever go on Facebook?

September 27, 2017 at 6:42 am

Beautifully written and such great examples of what child autonomy really looks like. It seems so obvious and natural to me now, but I know before I had my daughter I had envisaged being a strict, no nonsense parent. It’s blogs like these that changed my mind and I’m grateful for it. Keep on posting and changing the world, one family at a time <3

September 29, 2017 at 11:31 pm

Brilliantly written article, I had to show my husband and say honey look we’re doing it right according to this lol. We Love it! ✨💗✨

March 7, 2018 at 9:10 am

Love this! I totally agree. So nice to have finally found a like-minded person in so many ways. Most of my family and friends don’ t agree with how I bring up my children but I believe in autonomy and I believe in self–directed learning. This is the second article of yours thst I’ve read and I’m looking forward to reading more! Thanks for making me feel that i am not completely alone with how i think x

August 10, 2018 at 2:47 am

You people obviously are novices about the development of a healthy ego in terms of boundaries. having free autonomy is equated as freedom etc. as an premise that one uses to win the argument, but the premise is flawed, its blatantly obvious that autonomy is not normal. If you want to kill someone then you just automatically just go kill them cause you can do whatever you fucking want. No you’re an idiot just like everybody else!

August 20, 2018 at 2:12 am

Sara, please help! My child is 16 moths old and HATES diaper changes and tooth-brushing. He does not yet have the language or reasoning skills to understand the potential for skin irritation, infection, or tooth decay. I would be a horrible, neglectful parent if I made him sit in his own feces all day or let his teeth rot. Those are not acceptable scenarios to me. But it is also wrong (not to mention exhausting) to physically force him into these hygiene tasks. I am on the verge of tears over this every day and I don’t know what to do. What would you suggest? How did you navigate these things with your kids when they were very young (pre-verbal)? How do you respect both a child’s right to freedom AND his right to be healthy, safe, and cared-for, when reasoned conversation isn’t yet an option?

January 16, 2019 at 9:05 am

I really envy you for having children that are so cooperative and grown-up emotionally and intellectually, so that they can use their autonomy in a constructive way. Not all children – not all people – are like that. In fact most people are cooperative primarly because of fear.

Christoph Adami and Arend Hintze at Michigan State University in East Lansing have recently studied why cooperation emerges and what are its primary drivers. It came out (https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608139/new-model-of-evolution-finally-reveals-how-cooperation-evolves/) that punishment for non-cooperation is one of the most powerful factors that causes cooperation to take hold and spread. This is consistent with every-day observation. People cooperate because they fear not only breaking the law, but more importantly – being rejected or otherwise punished by their peers.

There is never freedom nor autonomy not only for children but also for adults.
The primary difference bewteen children and grown ups is that grown ups can handle the rejection. They are much more capable and can generally survive after suffering consequences of the lack of cooperation. They usually simply learn a lesson not to do it again (or to do it differently).

Children are powerless and totally dependent on their parents. If children do not cooperate, they usually are not rejected nor thrown out of the house. Their fragility and the tolerance for their disobedience enable them to test the boudaries more often than adulds are permitted. Granted – there are many more rules that are imposed on them artificially by their parents. Often times parents are also simply tired or in a bad mood and abuse their power to almost enslave children. Generally speaking however, children break the rules much more often than adults do, suffer lesser consequences and because of their status in the family – have to obey those who take the burden of the outside world on their shoulders.

These differences between adults and children are not artificial in any sense. Children have much less developed cognitive and emotional skills. Their primary purpose is to learn what life is all about. What is safe, what is rewarding, etc. Parents are there to help them learn. It is critical for me to teach my son that he should not hit his sister as this is an inefficient and potentially dangerous for him as well as her way of solving problems. It is equally important for my children to go to bed early – I really prefer to infrindge their freedom in this regard and have them sleep 10 instead of 7 hours. I know this is good for them, and they do not know it. The same goes for food, school, etc.

Congratulations again – I really wish I could have such a harmonious family life as you portray it on your blog. Every time I use my power to negotiate or force my children to do something, I have second thoughts about it. I really respect their self-direction, their initiative, their desires and wishes. The thing is that my children test the boundaries and I am here to tell them what boundaries they should not cross for their own good.

July 24, 2019 at 2:04 pm

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this article – it resonates so much with me, and I found it really helpful in moving forward with Unschooling. I do have one clarifying question though – You mentioned [ in the food section] about providing healthy food choices for them. What if the they ask for you to buy “unhealthly” food choices? If you choose to only provide healthy food at home, then how do you justify that to them in terms of them retaining anatomy? Should one have only healthy food at home and then allow free reign to eat any food when out of the home? I know you are super busy – but a quick response from you would mean the world to me. Thanks again!

July 31, 2019 at 6:41 pm

I really like reading your posts, it gives me another perspective on childhood and parenting in general. I sometimes feel offended by the way you right, but i know “it’s mine” – it’s 1 of the things i need to work on.
i battleling constently with this, people tell me i give too much freedom while i feel i don’t give enough. i don’t think it comes from the need to control but rather from my need to be heard – anyhow, the result is the same – i “need” things to be done my way… “mine” working on this too.

September 29, 2019 at 5:23 am

I think this only works when the parent also runs their life the way they are teaching their children. If you child has decided they want you to do xyz with them at that moment, but you are busy doing something else. Then you always drop everything to meet your child’s demand that is not creating the goal of teaching them that their decisions of theirs. Instead you are teaching them everyone’s decisions are theirs.

    September 29, 2019 at 7:16 am

    Obviously that would be the case with a newborn but no one is saying that with an older child. Respecting someone’s autonomy shouldn’t mean giving up your own.

      March 31, 2020 at 11:37 pm

      ‘Respecting someone’s autonomy shouldn’t mean giving up your own’. I love that… Funny that it is not obvious to most people… Great piece of writing – you’ve just given me the final push to release control over my son and give him back his birthright: freedom to be who he is. Thank you.

February 12, 2022 at 2:38 am

My wife said “letting kid not to poop due to constipation is a way of respectful parenting”. Could you comment on this. Thank you.

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