The Voluntary Life: 272 Why I Choose Peaceful Parenting

4 December 2016

272 Why I Choose Peaceful Parenting

I choose to parent without violence or aggression. This means I eschew various actions that a lot of parents still consider acceptable- actions such as spanking, hitting, yelling, psychotropic drugs, circumcision, and so on. In this episode, I explain my own reasons for choosing to practice peaceful parenting.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 272


  1. We practised peaceful parenting in the way you describe, right down to not piercing our children's ears (Incidentally, both of them are now in their 20s, and have continued to keep their ears unpierced). They have both become happy and accomplished adults, and my wife and I could not have wished for anything more for them.

    During my own childhood, I was occasionally spanked. I resented it intensely, and always thought of it as wrong. And yet, I turned out OK. As you say, that's not an argument. If I were to cross the road without looking and it turned out OK, that wouldn't make it a good idea to cross the road without looking every time.

    Before I had children, I was babysitting my sister's child and she mentioned in passing "By the way, we don't physically punish our children". This was the first time I had heard anyone say this explicitly, and my immediate reaction was "Of course - how could anyone justify hitting a child?".

    Later when my wife and I had children, we read some books about child-rearing incuding "Baby and Child" by Penelope Leach. This is a mainstream book that goes into depth about all the supposed "problems" such as temper tantrums. The author gives detailed advice about how to solve each problem, and yet after reading the book it struck me that in every case her advice boiled down to "give more love". We gave lots of love and no violence, and we didn't even experience things like temper tantrums, although both our daughters were strong-willed and independent and kept challenging us (in a good way).

    If I had my time again, there's one thing I'd do differently. One time only, each child did something which I felt needed discipline. Of course I did not employ violence, but I did withhold a privilege. That was a poor decision. It made me feel bad, it made them feel bad, it did nothing to constructively resolve the situation, and it showed them that I was asserting authority rather than interacting with them rationally. Apart from that situation, the relationship between my children and me was 18 years of total delight.

    I had a formative violent experience in my early life. At the age of six, I was caned by my teacher for a victimless crime. My classmate and I had finished our assigned work, and exchanged written notes with each other. To me this seemed a sensible way to avoid disturbing others in the class who had not yet completed the work, but apparently it was a transgression of a strict "No Notes" rule which I wasn't aware of, and so I was hit with the cane, and my fingers trembled for a day afterwards. Looking back, I think this is when I realised that those who use authority to justify violence are not people I can respect.

    1. Thanks for sharing these thoughts Roger

  2. Hi Jake, great episode, thanks for reminding me about PET.
    It's worth noting that Dr Gordon's techniques can be applied in all areas of life, including business/work relationships. I've shared the PET method with a manager of a large UK governmental organisation, and he's been brave enough to take it on, implement it and spread it for remarkable and life-changing results, he's told me. Bring it on!


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