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Consensual Living Discussion Thread

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

First let me say I am really excited about writing this thread! I am loving getting this chance to share this philosophy with others, I truly can not imagine living or parenting in any other way. So, before I start let me say thank you for listening, thank you all for being open minded enough to read and consider this, and please let me know of any or your questions or concerns.


This next part I will be borrowing a bit from the CL website, which I advise you go to as it can explain this better than I can, and I will post it at the end of the paragraph. Consensual Living means treating those in my family equally, respectfully, and making sure everyone's feelings and needs are heard and honored. It also means that when problems arise we all try to work together toward a solution that meets everyone's needs. Next I will list a few key precepts that are central to CL:




*Trust: It is very important to create a enviroment in your household where everybody feels like they're feelings and needs are valued, heard, and will be addressed. It is also very important to keep in mind that we are all doing the best we can to get our needs met with what tools we have in whatever given situation. Most of the time what we see as "bad behavior", "disrespect", "acting foolishly".... this is just our own perception of the situation and it really has nothing to do with the other party.


*Self - Determination: I believe it is important to give appropriate information so that we can make the best decision suitable for us.


Respectful communication is also very important in the CL household, personally I think CL and NVC go very nicely together. Respectful communication is that in which everyone's feelings and needs are heard, and valued, and it can be a extremely helpful tool in conflict resolution.





post #2 of 44
Thread Starter 

I wanted to add some more to my OP, so firstly let me say we are not 100% CL, in fact I don't think I personally know of anyone that is. Our main issues here are food and toys; we have MANY food allergies, and I insist on only buying either recycled, wooden, or secondhand toys for enviromental reasons. My kids aren't always happy about this, but I don't believe CL is about making everyone happy all the time because that's just not realistic; so we talk about why we have these rules, I empathize with their feelings, and we try to find a suitable alternative if the issue is that important to them.


Next, I wanted to talk about how to make CL work for your household. Since each family has different values they choose to live by I can't give any concrete "what to do" sort of plan, I have found it's mostly a case by case kind of thing. Here is what I am willing to share that has worked for us:


*Always focus on getting your own cup filled first. You can't give what you don't already have.


*Make note of your own personal triggers, and try to dig into them and turn them into learning opportunities.




*Examine your need for control. Whenever you feel you "need" to control something or someone ask yourself why, how would this benefit you, how would this benefit your family, what might the cons be...... I have found it very helpful to come up with a list of at least 10 ways I can handle this situation, just to open my mind up to the possibilites. After all this if you still feel the "need" to assert some control in the situation try to work together with your family to come up with a compromise everyone can live with.


*Playful parenting



Part III to come sometime tomorrow ;)

post #3 of 44

Thanks for sharing. When we encourage bonding and relationship it is not in order to make kids more compliant but to teach them how to be in a relationship with people and other life skills. I find that Ross Greene's Collaborative problem solving is really great in helping parents do the 'HOW' of working with , consensual approaches 

post #4 of 44

I'm excited about this thread. I would describe our family as making baby steps towards this. Our biggest issues include sleep and sibling fighting. I read Ross Greene's book when my eldest really hadn't gotten verbal enough for it to work for our family, but it's been on my reread list for a while. I hope to see others join this thread!

post #5 of 44

I suggest the latest editions of Ross Greene's books as he is always fine tuning the approach. For non-verbal kids he suggests using pictures, google pictures and teaching cps vocab. My favorite is ' lost at school '  - great for both parents and teachers. I think if we are chatting with our kids focusing on we listening and directing conversations with dialog questions that promote perspective taking, identifying concerns , coming to an understanding that living is inherently ' consensual we are really helping kids 

post #6 of 44

I read this post last night, and today had a chat with my 2.75 year old about how to make tooth brushing more palatable for her.  She suggested using more tooth paste, I said cool, we'll do squeeze the toothpaste three times while I brush your teeth, and it was the first non-screaming tooth-brushing we've had in recent memory.  Guess I should read some more on this :)  Thanks for the thread and the links.

post #7 of 44
Thread Starter 

newmamalizzy:  That's great! I truly believe in most cases, and with a little bit of guidance, kids really do know what is best for them. I think we need to teach children to listen to and respect their inner authentic voice, that will keep them on the right path more than almost anything else in life.


I love Ross Greene's book! It really helped me see a key part of the problem solving process that I was forgetting, and it's pretty simple to use.

post #8 of 44

Subbing to come back and read and ask some follow up questions...

post #9 of 44
Thread Starter 

Here's the part III I've been meaning to get to. So, in this part I will address some of the misconceptions and concerns I have heard about CL.  So, here are a few I've heard:


"I don't see how CL would work for families with more than one child."

I will admit CL is more challenging the bigger your family is, but I think this is kind of a given with everything when you have a bigger family. I would say taking care of yourself, conflict resolution, and a commitment to this kind of lifestyle  are really the keys to making CL work with a bigger family.


"CL only works  for easier kids."

I can definitely say with the upmost confidence that this is not true! My dd is highly sensitive and is a aspie, my ds is spirited, and they both wear me completely out on a regular basis. I don't think I could ever describe either of them as "easy kids". I have found that CL works the best for them, all other forms of discipline we tried using just seemed to stress everybody out.


 "My partner doesn't agree with CL."

Well, neither does mine. My dh says he agrees with CL in theory, but he has no idea how it can work practically in real life. Since I am absolutely commited to this lifestyle, and dh is really not that into discipline at all, we have agreed that I take full reign over any discipline issues. Whenever we have a issue dh comes to me and lets me know what is going on, then I empathsize with him, and we try to find some middle ground everyone can live with.

post #10 of 44

Ok, I'm back and want to first say that the lack of TCS parents is part of why I started this whole "alternative" GD philosophies stuff in the first place. I've never considered myself TCS...ok, wait...first question....


Is CL the same as TCS?  


A while back the forum was fairly dominated by folks who identified as TCS. While I found myself butting heads with a lot of the advice, which often felt differentiated by semantics or totally impractical, I loved having that side of things to help stretch my thought process. 


So how does CL look at things like the family budget? Does a child have equal say? What about thinks like television and video games? What about food?  I have just exposed what I suppose are my "control issues" - they are some of the things that I just never felt comfortable not controlling in some way. Now for us, the TV control thing went fine - I expressed what I wanted to see and why, suggested a solution that I thought would fit with DC's needs and personality and it's been working for 5 years. Food...that's another thing. I find the food thing frustrating because I like to buy sweets and treats and etc. but I feel like the only one in the family who can savor them for the shopping term. I'd be fine with DC eating their portion of treats up early in the week but then I feel like I get complaints over "having nothing to eat".  DC and I just talked about that yesterday because I did a big shopping trip and won't need to go to the store for probably two weeks. We'll see how that goes. So what does CL say about something like that? 

post #11 of 44
Thread Starter 

No, CL and TCS are not the same thing. TCS is about living consensually mainly with children, while CL is about aiming for consensuality in ALL of your relationships/interactions with others.


Family budget wise, we have given our kids a allowance to do what they will with, and it has the added bonus of teaching them about money management too. We do insist that they search out toys that are recycled, wooden, small business, or secondhand for enviromental reasons; and also get food treats that nobody is allergic to for health reasons.


TV is not a big issue for us, so we have given up trying to control it. We have a lot of fun watching programs with the kids, finding out about their interests, and talking about anything surprising that may come up. We do insist on having no shows with lots of language or violence, and that's because non-violence is one really big core value we have here. This works for us because we are radical unschoolers, but I can understand how this situation may not work out for other whose beliefs are not in line with this lifestyle.


Food is a big issue for us. Dd and I have a ton of food allergies, but thankfully she is used to it, and she knows how negatively the food affects her so there is not much issue with her. Ds and dh are the big complainers in this arena. Dh refuses to look into any of his likely food issues, and he insists that he doesn't like any of the allergen friendly food we have, so he has his own stash of food. Ds is not affected by food as much as the girls in the house are, except for the fact that we very recently figured out any type of refined sugar makes him really crazy! So, we have banned all refined sugar, and currently ds is rebelling by telling us that none of the food in the house "tastes right". It's a long crazy saga.........


We aim for everyone to have equal say here. When we need to make a new rule we try to do it based on our core values, and we also try to come up with a way that will meet everyone's needs.

post #12 of 44

Ok...for the purposes of understanding what differentiates CL from just sort of mainstream GD - I'd like to use the example of the allowance. Allowance is not especially unique and then adding some restrictions of reused, locally sourced, wooden, this seems fairly restrictive to me. I get that it is within NFL and fitting with your values but I feel like many other families would say the same about whatever their restrictions are. So, how is this unique? Is it because you as a family have decided on your core values? 


I'm not trying to be argumentative, I'm just not quite getting what sets this apart from just being a regular old GD parent. 


With us, for TV for instance, I think DC gets the values I put forth and I think relates to them and tends to agree that they are for the best. The solution was no TV at all from M-Th and then unlimited from Fri evening to Sunday. We also restrict shows...though DC isn't all that aware of that (we watch TV off the computer and DH puts all the content on the computer). I don't know, again, I'm thinking how is that so different? 


And maybe it isn't. Or maybe it is and like with the TCS folks, I'll be dense and take forever to understand the significance of the difference. nk


I'm thinking of the way we restrict TV content. DH's big thing is he doesn't want any commercials in our home. It's "his thing". I think he likes that it's his thing. He once joked that it was his crowing achievment as a parent. I happen to agree with him and I'm sure with frequent talks and etc. DC would agree...but part of that feels wrong to me. I can't explain it. I think I was allowed to just kind of develop my own morals out in the world. My parents didn't actively coach me. I think I have a preference for that way of doing things. 

post #13 of 44

And this is really interesting to me that after letting all that TCS stuff settle in that maybe it was the "family values" thing that turned me off.  I know it seems really natural for some folks to actively teach and encourage their kids to share their values but I don't have that instinct.  


Can you share some stories or experiences (or predictions) about what you will do when you do not all share the same core values?  I'm thinking that maybe this is the confusing bit for me...

post #14 of 44

Interesting that you mention TCS folks. I found that when they discuss issues amongst themselves , they are more balanced but when in the company of UP or GD parents they take kid's autononmy to an extreme. Alfie Kohn discusses this with regard to education - the flaws of libertarian education which can be applied to parenting are the lack of community and cooperation and parents and teachers playing an important role as guides by the side   http://tinyurl.com/aabzl94 .


I was wondering if CL folks see value in CL in itself - community and cooperation  or just a way to solve problems ?

post #15 of 44
Originally Posted by mary934 View Post

I was wondering if CL folks see value in CL in itself - community and cooperation  or just a way to solve problems ?

From what I've learned about Mittsy as we've been discussing this I would guess that CL is far more than a problem solving approach.  I'll check that link - I am very interested in AK in the educational setting. 


Mary, we are looking for someone able to make a 101 type guide to some of these philosophies that contains a brief description (and then we will include the discussion thread link and off-site sources). Is this something that you would feel up to the task of doing? 

post #16 of 44
Originally Posted by mary934 View Post

Interesting that you mention TCS folks. I found that when they discuss issues amongst themselves , they are more balanced but when in the company of UP or GD parents they take kid's autononmy to an extreme.

Yes, some of my responses here are I'm sure somewhat in reaction to not being quite finished with the TCS debate. ;-)  Can you describe the difference and relationship between TCS and CL from your experience?  You seem to be a big fan of CL, would you like to talk about what CL means to you and how you practice it in your life? 


What I'm focused on from Mittsy's writing is that shared core values seem somewhat key here. I can really see how something like CL would work if a family has that really works on that together.  

post #17 of 44
Thread Starter 

IdentityCrisisMama: Yes, enviromentalism is a core value for us. I think part of what CL different from regular GD is the core family values, but the other more important difference is the intent of the discipline. With regular GD the intent of discipline is usually to teach a lesson, whereas with CL the intent of discipline is normally to bring the other person aware of a issue and work together to find a mutually agreeable solution.


If my kids grow up to not share our values I would like to think I'll be ok with that. Between my family, in-laws, friends, and my dh I have quite a bit of experience with getting along with people who don't share my personal values.


mary934: I do see value as CL itself. We know a number of families who also do CL, and we try to get together monthly for empathy circles or social gatherings, and we also get together for 2-3 community camping trips. It's a great help for us on this journey.

post #18 of 44
Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post

IdentityCrisisMama: Yes, enviromentalism is a core value for us. 

What would happen in a CL philosophy if your children did not share your environmentalism value to the same extent as you and/or had a different opinion about how to express that value?     


Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post

I think part of what CL different from regular GD is the core family values, but the other more important difference is the intent of the discipline. With regular GD the intent of discipline is usually to teach a lesson, whereas with CL the intent of discipline is normally to bring the other person aware of a issue and work together to find a mutually agreeable solution. 


Interesting!  I will admit that as much as I relate to the ideas that discipline is about "teaching" or is about "finding ways to work together" it is often, realistically, about....I suppose behavior for us. 

post #19 of 44
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

What would happen in a CL philosophy if your children did not share your environmentalism value to the same extent as you and/or had a different opinion about how to express that value?     


I can't speak for Mittxy, but before I became a mother, I was a vegan and involved in animal rights activism. Of course I'd raise my kids vegan. For the first couple years of my eldest's life, that worked. And then, more and more she shunned the meals I prepared. Even as a toddler she would say things like, "I eat animals!" Eventually, I gained a whole lot more compassion for people who were sympathetic to animal rights but felt they couldn't do a vegan lifestyle and decided to put my daughter first. She started eating meat, and I eventually followed. I still try to get pastured, organic meat, but I will buy her other kinds, too. We're about to start an adventure into raising chickens for eggs and meat. I am so glad that I did not try to impose my values on my child.

post #20 of 44
Thread Starter 

IdentityCrisisMama: For example, when my kids find a toy they would like to get I usually point out that it's not recycled/wooden/small business and then ask them if they would be willing to find a similar alternative toy that is. If they say yes then terrific, but if they say no and would like to get the toy that's fine too because it's their money and they can spend it as they see fit.


revolting: What a great example! I am a ethical vegan too, and my kids have recently brought up to me that they would like to start eating meat and eggs again. I am not comfortable buying or preparing meat, but thankfully dh is definitely  a carnivore so the kids share dad's meals when they feel like eating meat. I have discussed with them my issue with eggs and now we are looking for a small family farm that has no roosters, cage free hens.... and then we will start getting eggs again.

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