Do children taken seriously ever ask permission?

“In a non-coercive household, is there anything you would expect your child to ask permission about? (That would imply that the parent has the control/final say so.) Do children taken seriously ever ask permission?”

Good gracious no! (Well, no more than we might ask them permission generally, like before entering someone’s private space or bedroom, or before using someone else’s property, or before sharing someone’s private information, etc.) In case it is not obvious why there is none of the usual asking permission parents expect their children to do, the above question is like asking:

“In a non-coercive household, is there anything you would expect your wife to ask permission about? (That would imply that the husband has the control/final say so.) Do wives taken seriously ever ask permission?”

When we switch the question to be about adults, the paternalism becomes obvious. Taking Children Seriously relationships are horizontal, equal, non-coercive relationships rather than vertical, top-down, authoritarian relationships. Children are sovereign individuals who own themselves and have as much right to control their own lives as we adults have to control ours.

So whilst we all ask permission of each other if we want to use their property or enter their bedroom, and the like, there is none of the usual paternalistic expectation that children ask their parents permission before doing anything.

See also: my Oxford Karl Popper Society talk: Taking Children Seriously: a new view of children

Sarah Fitz-Claridge, Taking Children Seriously FAQ: ‘Do children taken seriously ever ask permission?’, https://www.takingchildrenseriously.com/do-children-taken-seriously-ever-ask-permission/

Leave a comment