Consensual family dynamics get easier

Michelle L.

From the archives: Posted on 22nd May, 1995

A poster wrote:

“IMHO, non-coercive parenting is much harder. It’s easy to say “We’re going to the grocery store”; it’s harder to persuade a reluctant child to come along. It’s easy to say “Stop that”; it can be hard to explain why a child should.”

I think this is true, that non-coercive parenting (I also like the term consensual family dynamics better), is more difficult than authoritarian parenting. But I think the rewards far outweigh any difficulty and I’m finding it does get easier when you become more comfortable with it and determined to continue, despite outside pressures or inner doubts.

The thing most noticeable to me, in our household, is the difference in my relationship with my oldest, who will be 10 in July. J. is a very bright, strong-minded son who I have had many conflicts with in the past. We just seemed to butt heads constantly. I am hard-headed and know my own mind and he is much the same. He is very tuned in to the fact that I am seriously working (constantly) toward consensual family relationships among us all, and in the past few months he and I have had virtually no major arguments/disagreements, whereas before we had at least one every other day if not more. Now, we are able to discuss our conflicts, come up with solutions and work it out fairly calmly.

I don’t find that other parents or authority figures really are aware of our consensual relationship unless I bring it up to them. Maybe our close friends or neighbors, but they have heard it all from me, so they aren’t shocked or concerned anymore anyway. My kids are reasonably behaved in public, usually fairly well-groomed and don’t exhibit any blatantly anti-social characteristics. When I talk about home-schooling and the bedtime thing comes up, people seem to understand that we live on a different schedule than “formally schooled kids”. My kids are allowed to eat what they want to and actually do eat their veggies, salads and healthy stuff. Once you are committed to working toward this type of lifestyle you will be surprised how things balance out.

Michelle L., 1995, ‘Consensual family dynamics get easier’,