I think there's so much cultural baggage around the conjoined ideas that learning is hard, and children need to be taught, that it's actually really threatening for parents to hear that it's Okay to be nice to kids It's even okay to be proactively nice - to outright look for ways to make their lives easier. It doesn't harm them one bit - short term or long term - to treat kids gently, sweetly, indulgently. It's Safe to be kind to children.

Because if that's true, if kids raised gently "turn out" to be decent human beings as adults... then what's all that pushing and teaching for? Can it really be for nothing? That's a Hugely scary thought - even though for some of us (like me) it's the very thought that opened the door to unschooling: I don't have to be "cruel to be kind", I can just be kind.

do kids need rules?

It can help to stop and think about what rules are and what they do. They're kind of like an attempt at remote-control parenting. The only problem is, kids are curious and want to explore the world - and rules don't help them do that. They don't Need remote control parenting, they need chances to explore safely and people who will help them do that. Rules don't do any of that. And enforcing rules often puts a big, big block between kids and the very people who could be helping them explore and learn about the world. It's not that rules are "bad" it's that they don't do what parents want them to do. They don't do your parenting for you.

There are real boundaries, real limits in life. The sun goes down on the most wonderful of days. People get hungry and tired. Toys get lost and broken. It fails to rain when you most want a rainbow. There's no need to add a single rule to life for kids to learn that life has limits - it's Obvious. That's why babies cry - they find life's limits before they even have words to describe them. The difference with radical unschooling is that limits don't have to be end-points. They can be chances to problem-solve, brainstorm, come up with new ideas, new ways of communicating, new ways of thinking about the world. They can be chances to connect and commiserate when there Aren't any better options - chances to know that someone still loves you and wants to help, even when they don't know how. Limits can be a chance to grow together, rather than push kids away.