Today’s interview for the Peaceful Parenting Series is with D.S. Markel, also known as Big Daddy, and co-creator with his wife Mama Bear of the Free Your Kids blog.
I relly enjoy their message about how changing the world begins at home. We can’t raise educated adults who rightfully question authority if we don’t let them question our own — as difficult as it may be, especially if we were raised in an authoritarian household.
D.S. Markel writes about peaceful parenting, unschooling, and anarchism (as well as whatever else tickles him) on Facebook and on his blog. He’s a father of five and has much experience with anarchist children.
Joanna Steven: If you had to define peaceful parenting in a sentence or two, what would you say?
D.S. Markel: I am not my child’s master; I am his guide. He is free to do as he wishes as long as he does not encroach on the person or property of another.
Joanna Steven: You meet a parent interested in peaceful parenting. List 2-3 baby steps to help them move away from mainstream patterning.
– Remember that your child is not trying to make your life difficult; he’s finding his way through uncharted territory.
– As often as possible, get down on your child’s level and look into his eyes. Really look. Feel the love.
– Assume, until proven wrong, that your child’s intentions are good.
Joanna Steven: Peaceful parenting isn’t always easy. List 1 or 2 challenges you faced as a new parent while trying to parent peacefully, and how you overcame them.
D.S. Markel: Obedience. Obedience is not for children. Breaking myself of the mindset that my child needed to be obedient took a lot of doing. Seeing him as his own person with his own wants, desires, and needs, rather than someone to be bossed around, was crucial.
Also, trying to shame my child into doing something I wanted him to do. This came after we’d abolished punishments but still wanted “control”. Shaming is just another form of punishment and finally seeing it as such changed the whole game for me.
Joanna Steven: Often, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel! List one parenting book that influenced you and that you’d recommend to others.
D.S. Markel: I always recommend John Holt’s “How Children Learn“. It’s not *about* peaceful parenting — it’s about education — but the two are so intertwined that separating them proves impossible. It’s unlikely you could read this book and not completely change the way you look at your relationship with your child.
Joanna Steven: Name 1 or 2 people who inspire you to be a peaceful parent. Famous or not!
D.S. Markel: In all honesty, my wife. She’s the one who pushed us down this path. As I work long hours, she spent the majority of the time with the children. She told me, when we were floundering, that we needed a better way. She found it, implemented it, and asked me to try it. I was skeptical, but the results proved me wrong. She’s the best.
Joanna Steven: Parenting is easier when you’re happy! List 2-3 things that bring joy to your parenting journey.
D.S. Markel: Seeing the kids master new skills. Watching their personalities and interests change with the seasons and years. Relinquishing control of their lives and allowing them to shape themselves into the adults they’ll become.
You will find a list of all the interviews in the Peaceful Parenting series here.