Simple But Crucial
Don’t expect others to respect your freedom if you don’t respect theirs.
As long as you adhere to NAP (the Non-Aggression Principle), this should come naturally. Obviously one should not commit aggression against others to stop them from peacefully living their life as they wish. You should also not vote for others to commit aggression on your behalf.
Stop Making Exceptions
Respecting the freedom of others applies to all peaceful activities and to all individuals mature enough to make their own decisions.
- Vices: If others want to gamble, do drugs or pay for sex let them.
- Greed: If others want to make a gazillion dollars and keep it all for themselves, let them.
- Blasphemy: If two men want to have a relationship and raise children, let them. If someone wants to speak exclusively using swear words, let him.
- Taboo: If two mature individuals 30 years apart want to have an intimate relationship, let them. If your female neighbor wants to mow the lawn with her shirt off, let her.
- Bigotry: If employers wants to hire only purple people, or pay one sex more than the other, let them. We don’t need a law to punish bigots and haters. The consequences of their actions is punishment enough. If they limit the people they hire based on race or sex, or pay unfairly, they will end up with a lower quality workforce. Their competition will kick their butt. If you pass a law that forces them to stop their behavior, they won’t learn their lesson, and they’ll be much more likely to attack your freedoms. Don’t give in to that temptation. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Let them do that.
Avoid Peaceful Punishment
Even if a method of punishment is peaceful, I still discourage you from using it on a peaceful person who’s just trying to live as he or she wishes.
Let’s say someone is doing something that makes them happy… watching a television show for example. You may think it’s a silly waste of time. Guess what? You’re wrong. This person does not share all your values. For them, this show is entertaining. It brings them happiness. And achieving happiness is never a waste of time.
It’s fine to offer alternatives that may provide them with more happiness, but if they turn them down, let it be.
Do you want that person to be happy? Yes? Then let them watch their show, no matter how much you don’t care for it. Don’t punish them with negative feelings like guilt, or gestures of disapproval. Stop trying to control other people. Let them do what makes them happy, based on their own values not yours. In fact you should encourage them to do so.
Age is irrelevant
Respecting the freedom of others doesn’t only apply to adults. It applies to your children too.
Only your child understands his or her values well enough to effectively make choices based on those values in order to achieve more success and happiness in their life.
If an activity does not violate NAP and is not likely to cause permanent injury to your child, let them do it.
If they want to scribble with permanent markers on their toys, or play with their food, or watch Cinderella 300 times… let them.
If they throw their food at someone else, that’s when you draw the line. If they want to vandalize someone else’s toys, that’s not ok. If they want to attempt some death defying leap that will likely result in a concussion, don’t let them.
But once again, if it’s something that does not cause harm to others, and will not cause permanent injury to their own body, let them do it.
Respecting their freedom to do what they want with their own body and their own property, will not only make them happier and thus your family happier. It will also teach them by example to live according to NAP. And thus will increase freedom in the future.
What if I need to go somewhere and they don’t want to come with me?
If you need an adult to do something, do you physically grab their arm, pick them up, abduct them and force them to comply? Not unless you’re a police officer. That’s how a child feels when you use your superior size and strength to force them to do what you want. That’s why they have a meltdown and all the other parents in the grocery store give you that look of disapproval.
Instead peacefully persuade them to join you using rewards. Distract your child from their current activity using something they enjoy more. My favorite technique is to act like a clown, make my daughter laugh herself silly. Once she’s focused on me and receptive to physical interaction, I pick her up, spin her around, dance with her, throw her in the air a few times. Whatever it takes for her to voluntarily leave with me. And I keep the atmosphere irresistibly fun for the entire trip, so next time it won’t be so difficult to convince her to join me.
If you don’t want your child using your property in a certain way, then don’t leave it out where they can see it. At the same time, you don’t want your home to be a boring space. Give them plenty of access to things they enjoy.
Some may consider this a hassle. Is it any more difficult than constantly fighting with your child, filling your home with cries and arguments or solidifying an adversarial relationship? Believe me, compared to the latter, going out of your way to provide a fun, voluntary existence for your child is a walk in the park.
Respecting your child’s freedom to do what they want with their own body and their own property, will not only make you, your children and your partner happier. It will also teach them by example to live according to NAP.