In the consensual living model, father doesn't know best. Neither does mom. Instead, parents and children are equal partners in family life, according to the principles laid out at consensual-living.com.
Founded in 2006 by a group of families in North Carolina, consensual living is gaining ground in alternative parenting communities and online, including a Yahoo group with about 900 members.
Devotees study books such as Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication, and they consider parenting based on punishment and reward structures to be "coercive."
"When parents put themselves in the role as authorities, they may believe they are doing it 'for the child's good,' " writes one of the movement's co-founders, Anna Brown, "but they could be missing an opportunity to have more connected relationships with their children."
Lindsay Hollett of Nanaimo, B.C., says that she began to snap less with her husband, Craig, and her 18-month-old daughter, Kahlan, after she adopted the consensual-living mindset about a year ago.
Wouldn't telling a child they shouldn't do something be "coercive" as well? I just don't understand.
So, how do they handle conflict?
When Kiernen strikes another child, Ms. Keller asks him what he's feeling and whether he'd like to express his anger or frustration in another way, such as using words or hitting a pillow.
She tells him it's not okay to hit others, but she and her husband, Josh, do not force Kiernen to say he's sorry. "If he's going to apologize, we want it to be authentic," Ms. Keller says.
I am going to make an educated guess that this child is not one I want around my kids. What happens when little Kiernen goes to school? What about when he doesn't want to eat anything but M&Ms? What about when he just wants to play Wii all day? What about when he refuses to do his homework?
This shouldn't be called "consensual parenting", but rather parental neglect. Abdication of parental duties = neglect.
I don't think every parent needs to spank, but there is much wisdom in the Proverbs that speak of punishing children, for their own good:
He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him takes care to chastise him. - Proverbs 13:24
Withhold not chastisement from a boy; if you beat him with the rod, he will not die. Beat him with the rod, and you will save him from the nether world. - Proverbs 23: 13-14