The Taking Children Seriously List is a forum for the discussion of TCS child-rearing/education theory and practice, and for the support of parents trying to make their interactions with their children non-coercive.
Anyone who wishes to subscribe is welcome to do so. However, the TCS List is not intended to be a general support group for all parents, and if you agree with any of the following ideas and are not open to criticism on them, you will probably not find the List supportive:
To get the most out of the TCS List, you need to be open to criticism and help and support in finding a better way to solve problems. On the TCS List, we typically don't “agree to differ” or brush over possible differences, we probe possible differences in attempts to check whether we agree and if not, to come to agreement. We all criticise one another's ideas, so it is very unlikely that yours will not attract criticism too, even if you do think that you are non-coercive. :-) The secret of enjoying the List is to get to know the many lovely people who post on the List, so that you will know that their criticism is a gift intended to help rather than designed to hurt. BTW, there is a lot more TCS conversation happening off List than there is on the List.
Who does enjoy the TCS List? People who hold the following ideas:
These people find the TCS List profoundly supportive.
Others, who think TCS has it all wrong but like a good debate, appear to like the List despite their differences with TCS ideas, especially if they appreciate satire/have a dry sense of humour. When in doubt, assume that the poster was smiling or joking at the time of writing.
To find out more about TCS, see the FAQ. When you have subscribed to the List, you can retrieve the archives, which provide a rich source of information about the List, about TCS and about subjects about which you may have questions.
To subscribe to the Taking Children Seriously List, send a message
[email protected] saying (in the body of the
subscribe TCSyour-first-name your-last-name
then follow the instructions to confirm your subscription.
Subscribers to the TCS List receive a message about the List, Welcome to Taking Children Seriously.
“I woke up this morning and though I was tired I couldn't go back to sleep because my mind was reeling with TCS ideas and questions! It is such a relief to know I don't HAVE to make my child brush her teeth – I have ended up in tears over this issue! Thank you to all for the enlightening ideas – I am so happy to be on this List!”
See Jennifer VanLaanen-Smit's comments on http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Woods/2924/ncp.html and http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Woods/2924/firm.html.
“TCS keeps me thinking and helps my kids (and me) be less coerced.”
“I just wanted to first of all thank all of you who contribute to this list. It is very informative and enjoyable. [...] I thought, “Wow, this is wonderful! I am not longer the arbiter of weird, random little rules about things like what they should like!” It's very liberating.”
“Geesh, I feel like I am visiting another planet being on this list.”
I was just formulating a response to a post [on the TCS List], and experienced a wave of gratitude for having discovered the TCS website and List. Many of my strong life long held beliefs have been validated, expanded upon and articulated significantly more clearly than I had yet, and a result of this is that I gave myself permission to have children. I've been determined my whole life not to have kids unless/until I thought I could be a good parent — but I had no models of anything I saw as good parenting (just less bad than others) and while I didn't buy into mainstream conceptualize of children or parenting, in fact I have seen it as being abusive and fostering attitudes that lead to more severe abuse. I also knew I had enough difficulties in my life and issues (leftover from my coercive childhood) and I've always been well acquainted with how people seem to replicate their family life, even when its the last thing they want to do (breaking all the “I swear I'll never do THIS to my kids” or blinding doing the opposite of their parents).
Finding TCS has given me a function model of how I could be a parent, it's the only model I've seen that doesn't systematically hurt children and it's this huge blessing in my life that I am very grateful for. It's likely to be another year or three before I'm in a position to choose to become a parent, and the glimpses of how it can be possible to do that in a good way give me a lot of joy and hope.”
“[About TCS:] it's the opposite of rigid parenting — it's parenting that throws out the idea of being rigid and of denying that children have minds are are just as good as parents if not better at rational thought and that their thoughts and ideas should be taken seriously.”
“Thanks for your wonderful ideas.
I have been lurking on this list for months. I just want to say how much I appreciate everyone's ideas. I've recently noticed how the idea of non-coercion has percolated thru many aspects of my life:
eg, the transformation in the relationships among myself, my children and my grandchildren has been miraculous, as the fear of coercion drops away (I want to stress that there was fear on BOTH sides! ie it is scary and alienating to DO the coercing too)
eg, I find myself gently mentioning non-coercion (and this list) to other parents I know — I was too tongue-tied before to EVER say anything about childrearing styles — and they have all been incredibly, thirstily receptive
eg, my relationships with other adult friends are “melting” as I change the way I react to those who were coerced as children, continue to expect be coerced, and are thus stiffened against it
eg, I listened with completely new ears to an argument about locking up mentally ill patients
“Thanks for your suggestions! Everyone's response to my questions has been wonderful — and overwhelming. I really appreciate all the time you've put into your posts”
“I ran into TCS writings online about three years ago, and it really struck home to me right away. Trying to come to consensual solutions for conflict has been nothing but helpful for my family's dynamics. I think my kids are pretty wonderful and very rational, my four year old AMAZES me with her common sense and ability to do what she wants.”
“I haven't posted for awhile, but I want to let you all know that this List has been a tremendous source of support for me, stimulating a lot of deep thinking and discussion. TCS is really a profound world-view shift, and it's brought incredible joy to our family.”
“TCS is a challenging philosophy and makes you really rethink the more “comfortable” ways of doing things. I know that I'm endlessly challenged by it and often hopelessly discouraged, but I find that I'm learning more about myself and my family by making a conscious effort to be non-coercive in all my relationships.”
“WOW! Now that I have begun exploring this theory, I realize what a controling person I am. I think I truly fear anarchy, doom and mayhem. ;-)”
“I'm off [...] for 10 days and have to suspend my TCS mail. [...] I panic when I think I'm going to lose my daily dose of TCS!”
“I hate it when I fuss at my kids. I think of how awful other
parents sound when they fuss at their kids, but sometimes I just can't do
I appreciate all of the honest answers this List produces. [...] I feel as if I am at the point where I can't go back. Even if I continue coercive parenting, I will never like it. I have to make the change. [...]
Anyway, I am really enjoying these posts. Thanks.”
“I like how hard you all think about this TCS. I am glad that I am not the only one in the world that thinks about this stuff and try's to break the chain of more or less useless parenting that was passed on.”
“I must say that I am impressed by the ideas here and am in the process of rethinking my parenting.”
“Hello — I have lurked on this List for months. I am enjoying the
conversations, and finding it easier to avoid coercing my 2.5yo son. My
son hasn't been coerced as much as the typical child (much, much less), but
I still have those knee-jerk coercive reactions at times, usually when I am
tired or stressed. Usually when something potentially coercive comes out
of my mouth, my son looks at me like I'm crazy and repeats s-l-o-w-l-y what
it is he wants or is about to do. Makes me laugh (and apologise.)
My son will ask me about something he thinks might be dangerous or unpleasant. My nephew and niece will just do something, and assume unless someone immediately stops them, it is OK. Their safety is entirely in their parents' hands.”
“I am learning a LOT from this discussion! I deeply appreciate the time that many people have taken, both in private and on the List, to address my questions and arguments concerning tantrums; I have a much better perspective on this now, and I am slowly weeding out my false premises.”
“I wanted to say thanks to Sarah for providing us with this forum and some justification for following a path that the rest of society finds untenable...”
“Thanks for putting me on the List. [...] Thank you again – you must know that the contact I have made here is the best thing that has happened to me this year!” — message dated Thu, 31 Dec 1998 09:33:10 PST
“Welcome to the List. I too was thrilled to find this sort of a List which advocates for kids, who so often don't get respect and are bullied and ignored. I learned a lot from the folks here and now want to help share these ideas.”
“As an Attachment Parent and unschooler I thought I was radical — until I discovered TCS!”
“...Reading the TCS [List] got me out of my postnatal depression. It is so positive and it rang so many bells for me, that it really helped.”
“You can look at the web pages before deciding whether or not to subscribe to
My own experience is that I subbed once and found the List very dry, I wanted something juicier where people discussed real children etc. So I unsubbed. A friend encouraged me to try again and now I find the support for this way of thinking invaluable. It has not only made a large difference in my relationship to my husband and children, I have found levels of freedom I never thought possible before. I am able to think more clearly and have discovered how to know what I really want. Perhaps some extremely wise people could get there on their own but the world we live in is so filled with coercion that I find the List is my mental vitamin pill. :-) Give it a try.”
“I'm only two days new to this TCS List/site/concept... but aleady you have made a difference to our lives! Last night my 11 year old spent his hard earned savings ... on a skate board. Today, just 19 hours later, he was set upon, threatened with violence, and robbed of the skateboard by two much larger kids. A week ago I would have been sympathetic and caring but we would not have had enough money to replace it for him. Thanks to the [TCS] discussions about replacing toys deliberately broken, I was able to see that replacing it has a much higher priority that most other things in our lives at this time. Thanks.”
“I never would have had the great relationship I have now with my 3-year-old if it wasn't for the help of TCSers on this List for the past 1-2 years. Thanks a million.”
“One of the good points of TCS is that dissidents are welcomed. Unless you're looking for a mutual admiration society, there's no reason to leave. Hell, you might even inject some sense into the conversation.”
“The whole [coercive] concept [advocated by one poster] is sad. All I can
do now is continue being part of the solution....
looking forward to more neat postings!”
“Thank you for this discussion group. Its deep questioning is so important!”
“This is fun! My brain hasn't stretched like this in an age. Thank you all.”
“I do appreciate the thoughtful interaction we have on this List.”
“On a final note, I'd like to express the gratitude I have for having a place like this List where I can vent my feelings about this rather mundane issue and have all my concerns respected.”
“I hope it's not inappropriate just to write to tell the List how glad I am I have found it! Thank you.”
“Once I got this new attitude about chores and housework and home maintenance – thanks to many discussions on this List – I find I now do things because I want to do them, when I want to do them, and am much happier about doing them.”
“You know, after reading this two days later, I'm thinking ‘duh...this is so obvious.’ I have no idea why it never occurred to me before to work out a way to let him have the raisins. Old habits die hard, I guess. ... Thanks, all of you who have been so patient with newbie questions!!”
“I'm very, very grateful that there are people like you who can offer support and wisdom.”
“Thanks again for helping me iron this out in a rational way... I DO appreciate all the input that I am getting....”
“I have to thank all of you who have given such helpful replies. It is still really hard for me to be completely non-coercive, but I am learning each time I read these posts. Thanks!”
“Thanks for opening my eyes!”
“I am so thankful that I have this List. I don't think I could go on without it. I kind of feel like an alcoholic in AA...not that I know what that is like, but I'm sure it's similar!”
“This List is a lifeline for me. To say that it has changed my life and my children's lives is an understatement.”
“I love this List!”
“Too often we throw up our hands and say, “I can't help” when we could if we really wanted to. That's what TCS is about (to me): wanting to help my children get what they want and enjoying it. It's not an easy path but it is soooo rewarding!!”
“It's obvious to anyone with half a brain that TCS exists to sell books and speaking engagement for Sarah Fitz-Claridge. [...] I ... take my child seriously, so seriously that I refuse to let her live in your fucked up fantasy world. I will also dedicate all possible energies to making fun of TCS, ridiculing it's adherents, and otherwise. I consider TCS to be a form of neglect, and I'll fight every living fool who propounds it tooth and nail across every message board and chatroom on the Net. Remember that.”
Ah well, can't please everyone...
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