Articles about school refusal

I wouldn’t use force to teach my children – so I had to find another way.

I’m writing this in case you don’t want to force your child to do things, but you feel pressure all around you. Maybe you feel pressure to force your child to go to school or to sit down and do schoolwork at home or to take away their iPad – and it doesn’t sit well with you. In your heart you know you don’t want to force. You don’t want to nag, lie or manipulate your children either, but you’re not sure what else to do. I want you to know that you’re not alone in this and that I understand. I felt that pressure greatly at times and I didn’t like it at all. I’d like to give you some inspiration and encouragement to stay true to your desire to live peacefully and respectfully with your children. I want you to know that you can find a path forward that doesn’t require force.

Long before I thought about having children I’d developed an aversion to people using force over others. It was probably all those years I spent studying and teaching Law at university that did it; I was sickened by the many ways that people assert power over others and how the use of force is entrenched so deeply in our culture and legal system. While the use of force and punishments might seem less severe now than they did in the days when flogging and other corporal punishments were common, the society we live in is still largely built around the use of force. It shows up in conventional parenting practice all the time. Physical punishment such as smacking is still common and legal and isolation punishment such as “time out” or “grounding” is widely recommended. Punishment is just one way parents try to make their children comply with what they want.

This cultural acceptance of the use of force means that we often don’t see it clearly for what it is, and we don’t notice how our educational institutions are also built on it. I didn’t see the force used against children in the education system clearly until I had children of my own.

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