Re: virus: Coercion (was: re: The Battle of/for Ideas)

Eric Boyd (
Thu, 13 May 1999 12:22:12 -0400


This discussion is clearly getting seriously off topic, so I'll keep it short.

Tim Rhodes <> writes: << (snip discussion of two girls)

I know you won't agree with all this. But can I ask, did the meme you hold in this regard find favor with you through your observation of real world events involving the raising of actual children from childhood or through theoretical discussions about what was "right" when raising a child and the observations of grown adults about how they wish they'd been treated when they were children?

Well, the first point I want to make -- and this is very important -- is that lack of coercion (non-coercion) itself is not nearly enough to parent a child: one cannot build positives out of a negative.[1] That is why the parenting philosophy is not "Non-coercive parenting" but rather "Taking Children Seriously". Second, from your description above, its sounds like the non-coercive parent was self-sacrificing -- which is itself against non-coercive parenting, but more importantly, leads to exactly the type of situation you describe -- where the child walks all over the parent (and others if they can). TCS parenting relies on a mutual preference style of interacting in which avoids such negative spirals by ensuring that all parties are happy with (prefer) any situation.

Finally, my knowledge of TCS parenting comes from the TCS list -- which is devoted to helping any TCS would-be families implement the philosophy. It is the most concrete discussion of parenting and child-raising to be found anywhere. The main purpose the list serves is helping families to solve problems (ranging from unwanted carrot pulling to diaper changing to lice removal to visits with relatives etc) by providing a creative source for new solutions which could potentially be mutual preferences. Discussions about instances of coercion in the past are also common -- the parents wish to know what to do if similar situations arrize again. It should be noted that TCS is based heavily on the failability of parents -- coercion does occur in TCS families, but *they* view it as a mistake to be corrected (and apologized for, discussed with the children), rather than the (yukky) typical view of "disipline is an expression of love" which is so destructive of (a) creativity and (b) autonomy (or *motivation*).

However, such a brief overview is clearly nothing but a taste. If you are truly interested, I recommend subscribing to the TCS-Directors Cut. You will recieve about seven 24kb messages a week, full of chosen posts and TCS comments on them. It takes less than an hour a week, and I've found the discussions to be very interesting.

I think (but am not sure) that the TCS web page is at:


[1] It is for this reason that atheism is not a religion.