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Highlights In Idiocy - Consenual Parenting

From Aggies

I am highly critical of parents who want to be friends with their children and are afraid to discipline a child, afraid to not give them what they want, etc. Parents generally do this because they fear the child may not like them if they discipline the child or say "no". This is bad parenting and now it has a new name - consenual parenting.
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Sebastian said...

I think conensual parenting is great. Children, no matter how young, should never be told what to do by so-called 'parents'. Also, children should earn their own living, drive themselves to work, pay taxes, handle their own university fund, write their own resumes, do jury duty, and defend the nation.

Children should also learn about natural physics by themselves, not from dead white males: about electricity by putting paper clips into power sockets, about thermodynnamics by touching a hot stove, about conservation of momentum by running out into the street. Who are we to judge their curiosity and creativity?

Finally, I am tired of these so-called 'babies' mooching off adults to whom they just arbitrarily happen to be biologically related. Once you reach 18 (months), you should be out of the house, get a job, get married, and finally take charge of your own life! If you know how to talk, you should walk the walk!

Now, back to our regularly-scheduled reality...

Beate said...

Um...maybe Sebastian should try reading Alfie Kohn's books before commenting? Also, it's consensual - all parties managed to misspell the word ;-) Perhaps one could look at it as mutually respectful?

Sabine said...

When deciding to call other people idiots, you really shouldn't have a typo in the headline. Also, when disparaging the views of another, you really ought to know what their views truly are before jumping in. What Sebastian describes and what was said on Aggie Catholics is not an accurate description of what respectful parenting is about.

Sebastian said...

Dear Beate, Sabine,

1. No one has time to read every book out there - if you can provide me with good arguments for consensual (there!) parenting, please do so, I would love to hear.

2. My comment was satirical hence I stretched things out to make the arguments more obvious. I stand by what I wrote. Obviously the dangers of buddy-parenting are more subtle, but just as real and dangerous.

3. The book that I have read is the book of life, i.e., I have observed what goes on around me and what other people say. I see that kids brought up this way more often than not are little sociopaths who make themselves and others miserable by their incessant caprices. When life confirms my intuitions, I am not particularly interested by a theory younger than some of the children it proposes to encompass.

4. Children, particularly younger ones, have psyches full of random and irrational emotions, desires, impulses that they do not themselves understand. It is for adults to educate them in discerning and controlling these impulses. This must by necessity begin with coercion (which does not mean violence), so that the child slowly learns to master itself - otherwise, it may never do.

5. Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is very much optional - I have the pleasure (shall we call it) of teaching university students, some of which have a very similar psychological profile to your average 5yr-old. I try to remedy the situation as best as I can, but I see this immaturity as a pandemic in the western world.

6. People deserve respect, stupid opinions that destroy people's lives don't. The title is "Highlights in Idiocy - Consenual [sic] Parenting" - in English this means that the idea is stupid, not the person. Wise people may have stupid ideas, stupid people occasionally flashes of genius.
I am not attacking the author, or anyone, in particular, just the movement in general. If you think consensual parenting is good, please tell everyone why.

7. Sabine mentions definition of consensual/respectful parenting - yes, please give us a working definition - we can go from there.

8. There's a difference between misspelling a word and making a typo, of which I've made several in the previous posts ("thermodynnamics" is a gem). Sometimes the spellchecker doesn't kick in. Big whoop. So we both misspelled the same word in two different ways - what are the odds? Typos are a symptom of a distracted, hurried, busy, sometimes inattentive mind, not of illiteracy or cognitive deficiency.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I'm not sure how this "Consensual parenting" would fit with a Catholic lifestyle, at least as described in the piece.

"Oh, honey, you bit your sister? Do you feel like you sinned? No, because "she had it coming?" Well, then I guess there's no need to go to confession."

I prefer the philosophy of 'We may not be able to control our emotions, but we CAN control our actions.......' Still working on that with the kiddos, but they're young yet....

Beate said...

I don't think you can blame sociopaths on parents who truly follow the principles in Kohn's or Rosenberg's writings. We have wonderful parenting examples both in our Mother Church and in our Lord. Ultimately, we are convinced by gentleness and love rather than coercion :-)

A working definition? Acknowledging that we (and our children) are formed in the image and likeness of God and treating one another accordingly.

Deirdre, none of my children have ever bitten one another after attaining the age of reason :-) You are right the piece does a huge disservice to Alfie Kohn and Marshall Rosenberg. Seriously, shouldn't we all strive for non-violent communication?

Ironically, Aggie Catholic blogged on the fact that one can't impose prayer directly after the piece on consensual parenting, which is something that Kohn and Rosenberg would definitely agree with.

Sebastian said...

Dear Beate,

Let me answer your last comment paragraph by paragraph:


- Sociopaths can be blamed on many things: their own behaviour, for once. Also, absentee fathers, permissive schools/society, and yes, parenting style. I am simply arguing that consensual parenting, will, on average, increase sociopathic tendencies in children. [maybe I can get a gov't grant to study this?]

- I am not sure what you mean by parenting examples from the Church and Our Lord: of course these teach us with a sweet discipline and a light yoke. Still, there are rules and they are quite hard, though mercy also abounds. I think the discipline of the Church is actually a pretty good parenting model, mutatis mutandis, but it is certainly not primarily consensual.

- You say you prefer 'gentleness' and 'love' rather than 'coercion'. Are these necessarily incompatible? The first two are 'nice' words, while the last is an 'unpleasant' word. This proves nothing. Love might mean dragging your child to the doctor, to church, to school and wherever else against their (fickle and immature) will.

- You use the word 'ultimately' - I agree with you here. But not 'initially': the small child cannot be reasoned with and often needs to be 'made' to do this or that. Thus it will learn to behave properly, and, in time, learn to do good for its own sake. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and like many good things, it starts at home.


- I do not disagree with the statement, but fail to see how it can be a definition that distinguishes: of course, I will argue that 'traditional' authoritative parenting claims to do the same.

-Furthermore, the statement in this context hints at a false equality of roles between children and parents which does not exist. Equal in dignity, yes: and furthermore all children of God. And children of God need discipline. In the family, this discipline is dispensed by the parents to the children. This is also a God-given mandate (see the Book of Proverbs, and the other biblical books of Wisdom).

Sebastian said...


- I am glad to hear that your grown children do not bite each other: however, are you saying they bit each other when they were small? What did you do about it then?

- To whom are you saying 'You are right'? I don’t know, my English is not so good, but I think Deirdre is actually against consensual parenting.

- 'non-violent communication': who said anything about violence? Coercion is not violence. You can discipline your children in a variety of ways. Also, this is not about communication, but about discipline. Of course you should talk nicely with your children. Discipline is when your children go crazy, and then there is no chance for communication at all. Also, your statement sounds as something you would hear at the UN: it has nothing to do with parent-child relations.


- I am sure they would also agree that children need food. I doubt not that the authors do talk some sense occasionally. I fail to see the irony.

- You cannot force anyone into prayer, because it is a disposition of the soul, and a free act of love. By its very nature it is impossible to impose. Not only you shouldn’t, you physically can’t. But what you can do is make your children dress up and go to church even when they don’t feel like it, attend family prayer and say the words or at least stay nice and quiet. Thus they will have an example and opportunity to learn true prayer. Also, they will learn that faith should not be primarily driven by feelings and whims, but by commitment.

In conclusion, a lot of what you write may apply to mature adults, who [here is the missing link], have already been trained in discipline and now know how to discipline themselves and have learn how to love. Children are not adults and it is a betrayal to treat them as such before their level of maturity catches up. Also, as a point of fairness, there cannot be full equality between parents and children, as I tried to point out in my initial satirical comment. Parents have wisdom and experience, children don't. Parents work towards the economy of the home and the state. Small children contribute nothing substantial for
many years [albeit, bundles of joy, I am sure], and can never really repay the work put into them. The relationship is by nature grossly asymmetric, and giving authority to the parents is a necessary balance.

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