“If you are not coercing your child, what do you do instead of coercion?”
I must admit that I do not recall anyone ever asking me this question, but VivekPatel said he gets this question a lot, so my answer follows. If this is a question in your mind, and my answer does not address your question, please feel very free to comment/clarify your concern/post a follow-up question. It may be that I have not understood the question.
This question is like a coercively controlling husband asking: “If you are not coercing your wife, what do you do instead of coercion?”
A paternalistic husband who controls his wife out if the best of intentions, because he honestly believes that it is for her own good, could ask the same question.
Whatever answer you would give a husband asking the question about his wife, applies in the case of children too. What do you do instead of coercion in any good relationship?
Because we take women seriously now, the question seems shocking or strange. The only reason it might not seem similarly shocking when asked about children is that children are still viewed through the lens of paternalism.
Taking Children Seriously is a new view of children – a non-paternalistic view. You might like to watch this video about that.
My guess is that those asking this question are viewing children through the lens of paternalism, so they are imagining that children need to be coerced for their own good, and that in the absence of that coercion, disaster will ensue. But actually, children do not need to be controlled, any more than women do. What they need is lots of love, connection, support, protection, intellectual engagement, emotional attunement, attention, conversation, information, fun, play, discovery, and lots of access to the world. Not coercion. Not manipulation. They are sovereign individuals. Their lives are their own.
So what do parents taking their children seriously do instead of coercion, control, manipulation? They enjoy life with their beloved children – just like we do in any good relationship.
See also: Taking Children Seriously: a new view of children
Which parenting style is Taking Children Seriously? Authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, or uninvolved?
Children fending for themselves like adults?!
What is Taking Children Seriously?
Sarah Fitz-Claridge, Taking Children Seriously FAQ: ‘If you are not coercing your child, what do you do instead of coercion?’, https://www.takingchildrenseriously.com/if-you-are-not-coercing-your-child-what-do-you-do-instead-of-coercion/