Response to letter on limit-setting

Response to letter on limit-setting
Sunday August 06, 2006

Dear mrs Miller, dear Alice,

I would like to respond to the letter about limit-setting of 24 July last, if that is okay with you, as i agree with the author.

My children learn at home and follow what is called the autonomous approach. Autonomous education (as it is called in Great Britain) has been inspired by -amongst others – you and your book ‘For your own good’. It means that children can decide for themselves what they wish to do with their own time and what, how, why and when they wish to learn. Trust in the child is key. Instead of parents setting limits the child works together with the parents, like equals. It also means that children can decide when they go to bed (when they are tired), what and when they wish to eat, etc. etc. Parents are more like guides that offer explanations and suggestions in order to establish autonomy while not hurting or impeding others or self in order to achieve that goal.
It seems bizar, but our lives have become so much less complicated, so joyful since the moment that i decided to take my children seriously. The fact that i was severely abused in all possible areas hasn’t made it easy. I was brought up to hate children, to find them annoying in the least, convinced that they should listen to whatever i had to say. I was taught how to coerce, manipulate, hit, scream, blame and shame and to put all responsibility with the child.
I could never have chosen the autonomous route, had i not read your books and gone into therapy, had i not written on your forum and read the many articles on the website of But that was not enough. In my search for true autonomy for my children i came upon more books and websites that advocate children’s rights more than i could ever have imagined. I am not saying that i can’t find fault with the contents of these books and websites, but they do take children seriously and are prepared to go a very long way in order to establish peace and freedom for children and parents.

Please see:

Also, the brain research that you mentioned in your books has been of great help to understand that we must not coerce children and that coercion is “inimical to learning and the growth of knowledge”, see ‘with consent: parenting for all to win’ by Jan Fortune-Wood. Brain research also shows that children wish to learn, in fact they are born to learn and do that in ways that you cannot find in most present-day schools or homes. All children deserve to be taken seriously and to have autonomy over their
own lives.

Thank you for all the knowledge that you have shared with us and for the rippling effect it has had on others (like the proverbial pebble).

I wish you well,

S. W.

AM: Thank you so much for your letter; I completely agree with what you are saying here and am very grateful for your references to the helpful websites. I couldn’t yet check them but trust your judgment because I know you and your history. To me, you are a living proof that even the most abused victim is not condemned to repeat the endured abuse on her children thanks to her growing CONSCIOUSNESS. Actually, children could be our best teachers when we carefully observe their (always positive) reaction to our respectful attitude.