Playing in the Rain

Raising Voluntary Kids: A Freecoast Festival Panel

Ken Justice Education, Freecoast Festival, Local Activism

Can children contribute to human liberty?

As a reader of, you likely believe that each adult is a sovereign individual, and has the innate right to govern himself as he sees fit as an extension of his private property rights. (Herself too, I’ll be using them interchangeably.) Alternatively, if you stumbled upon this post from a peaceful parenting or unschooling blog, you likely believe that each child should be given as much freedom as possible so that she can fully express herself. There have been heated discussions online pitting these two seemingly dichotomous positions against each other: accusations of children being treated as property on one side versus accusations of children running amok and encroaching on property on the other side.

Adults and children are partners for liberty.

Both sides are right. There is no dichotomy.

I believe that you can (and must) have individual liberty for the adult and her private property, and that the same principles apply almost completely to the child. Not only can both of these sides exist in wonderful harmony, but I believe that the success of each side is dependent on the success of the other. In other words, there are no sides. This is a partnership for liberty, making a more peaceful world now, and even more so over the coming generations.

Who knows what is best?

We all want what is best for our kids. However each parent’s opinion of what is best varies greatly from the next parent. Most liberty-minded parents would agree that one parent should not be mandating how the next parent raises her kids, provided that they are not being mistreated. Who am I to say what is best for your kids, and who are you to say what is best for mine? We do not know what is best for each other’s kids. We can probably agree on that principle.

As we work to advance human liberty by growing ourselves and our ideas, what if we took the above principle one step further? What if we admitted that we do not know what is best for even our own kids?

Of course I am not saying that the government knows what is best (good grief, no), nor a “community” or “society” for that matter. I am saying that each individual child knows what is best for himself. Just as we would find it immoral to use coercion to force an adult to behave in a way that we think is best, likewise it would be immoral to apply coercion to a child. Essentially, kids are people too, and encroaching upon their sovereignty is no better than encroaching on an adult’s.

A voluntary world is a peaceful world

History has shown time and time again that when people commit acts of aggression on others that violence ensues and human liberty suffers. We see this in war as an obvious example, but we also see it in attempts to control the individual in ways that are intended for their own well being or that of “society”. Such examples are taxation and forced income redistribution, compulsory education, forced religion, and so many others. Any time that and individual is not considered to have full ownership of his person and his property, another stepping stone to tyranny is placed.

Many of us in the Freecoast community believe that the way to defend against these acts of aggression is to spread the principles of Voluntarism. That is, we believe that all interactions between peaceful individuals should be voluntary. There should be no acceptance of coercion in any form.

Further, I personally believe that it is quite logical, moral, and necessary to extend the principles of voluntarism to the child. A key component of creating a peaceful world is to recognize children as the sovereign beings they are. Most adults are still healing from their childhoods of being coerced by adults around them (parents, teachers, complete strangers) who believed that children were property rather than sovereign individuals with their own private property rights. (They may not even realize that the healing needs to take place, but that topic deserves a blog post of its own.)

I want to raise children who understand at their core that it is completely unacceptable to encroach upon any person or their property.

Children are observers who emulate the behavior they witness during their formative years. Therefore the most effective way to help them fully understand the non-aggression principles of voluntarism is to model it to them and upon them. They will see right through the hypocritical nature of teaching voluntary principles if at the same time we punish them physically or emotionally, take away their property, force them to dress a certain way, cut their hair in a way that pleases us or society, force them to attend government schools or ride them about specific subject matter performance while they home school. They will push back to exert their sovereignty, just as so many children have pushed back when they become “difficult teenagers.” Let us model the voluntary and peaceful world that we want to create. Let us start at home. What could the network effects of multiple generations of peaceful individuals accomplish?

Want to learn more?

We will be exploring these concepts with the Raising Voluntary Kids panel at this year’s Freecoast Festival, taking place September 8 – 10th, 2017 in Portsmouth and Newmarket, New Hampshire. The panel will feature real-world parents in the Freecoast community who are living these voluntary principles with their children. We will discuss topics such as:

  • What are some underlying principles in raising voluntary kids?
  • Are there any rules at all, or do they stomp all over you?
  • What about “discipline”?
  • How the Non-Aggression Principle is a key component to peaceful parenting and unschooling (and what can happen when this component is missing.)
  • Where or when to set limits without hindering their autonomy.
  • How would this work with older children?
  • Motivations for moving forward when you have not-so-peaceful moments.
  • Send me a note if you have a question that you would like the panelists to discuss.
Freecoast Festival 2017

Get your tickets today!

This is looking to be the best Freecoast Festival yet! Highlights include a speaker series at The Stone Church featuring Hanna Braime of “Becoming Who You Are“, an evening coastal cruise with keynote speech by Jake Desyllas of “The Voluntary Life“, and Entrepreneur Day!

This year’s event is being organized by the Human Action Foundation.  HAF is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides educational, social, and charitable services to communities in which they operate.

Ticket sales are live and as an early bird bonus, if you purchase your ticket by the end of May you will receive a free t-shirt!

So, what are you waiting for? See you on the Freecoast!