Peaceful Parenting

by Stefan Molyneux, MA

My powerful new book "Peaceful Parenting" is now available FOR FREE!

The morality, psychology, and science of ethical child-raising...

Finally, the book the whole world has been waiting for! In clear and practical detail, “Peaceful Parenting” applies the logic and reason of science, psychology, evidence and rigorous morality to the healthy and ethical raising of our greatest treasures — our own children…

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Podcast episodes

  • Season 1

  • Chapter 1

    Chapter 1

    Prologue I am fully aware that it seems melodramatic and precious to write an introduction that is basically a giant trigger warning – but it needs to be done. This book is the culmination of forty years work in the field of philosophy, self-knowledge, parenting and ethics. Through my show Freedomain, I have had the privilege of having in-depth conversations with thousands of people about their early childhood experiences, and the effects that trauma has had over the course of their adult lives. They contact me in the hope that my training and experience in self-knowledge and moral philosophy will help them untangle the problems in their lives – I hope that I have served him well. These conversations are all available on my website. I have interviewed many experts in the field of parenting, child abuse, family structures, therapy and self-knowledge – these interviews are also available on my website. I myself experienced significant levels of child abuse. I was raised by a violent and crazy single mother, who ended up being institutionalized when I was in my early teens. I did talk therapy for three hours a week, for almost 2 years. At the end of my therapeutic process, and after months of trying to repair my relationship with my family, I decided to separate from them. I have not talked to my mother for twenty-five years. My father left when I was a baby, and I have had little contact with him since – he died a few years ago. I have been happily married for over twenty years, and have been a stay-at-home father for the past fifteen years to my wonderful daughter. My wife is a licensed mental health professional who practices psychology. Her training is in early childhood education, and we both decided to parent without aggression, violence, name-calling, raised voices – or punishment of any kind. My daughter is homeschooled, and we are part of a wonderful community of like-minded parents. My daughter and I do comedy shows together - mostly movie reviews - these are also available on my website. Now for the trigger warning. This is a very intense book. I have tried to write it twice before, but faltered at the depth and enormity of the task. My experience as a child was a deep and genuine bewilderment. I was surrounded by people who claimed to be good – many of them Christians – and who also claimed to be experts at identifying and punishing immorality. My relatives, my teachers, my boarding school masters, the priests who instructed me – they all claimed to have the ability to accurately identify immorality and take strong steps to contain and punish it. I was punished in school – caned in boarding school – and in church, and by relatives – all because they said that I had behaved badly, and deserved to be punished. But it was most strange… None of the hundreds of adults who judged and punished me over the course of my young life ever recognized that my mother was an evildoer who violently beat her own children. They were able to detect subtle signs of rebellion or disobedience in my demeanour, and sharply or aggressively punish me – but they were utterly unable to identify my mother’s obvious mental and moral dysfunctions – or ask me how I was doing, and take action to protect me, and oppose the violence I was subjected to. I have been wrestling with this massive issue for over half a century. How is it possible that adults can punish children for minor transgressions – I was once caned for climbing over a fence to go and get a soccer ball – but are utterly blind and helpless in the face of adult abusers of helpless, dependent and innocent children?

  • Chapter 2

    Chapter 2

    Introduction If the world is hell, it is because of childhood.The unhappiness, misery, pain and violence of the world have all been “explained” according to various theories, all designed to distract us from the central, core and highly personal issue.Socialists explain that the world is hell because of rampant economic and environmental exploitation – without ever asking why people end up so coldhearted that they can use and dispose of fellow human beings through the chilly physics of grim economic utility.Theologians explain that the world is hell because human beings are born sinful, and have to be beaten and terrorized into even a remote approximation of virtue.Educators explain that the world is hell because children are willful and disobedient, and have to be threatened and bullied into pursuing knowledge and accepting conformity.Antiracists explain that the world is hell because people mistrust and hate other ethnicities – without ever asking why people end up xenophobic, hateful and afraid.Feminists explain that the world is hell because men hate and fear women, and thus lust to bully and control them – without ever explaining why men might hate and fear women.Evolutionary biologists explain that the world is hell because mankind is an animal, with an animal’s lusts and passions and thirst for dominance. No one ever explains why science is possible for mankind – but not for any other species – but virtue is not.Every civil rights movement has striven to bring excluded groups into the moral center of society. Morals - both legal and social - that were set up to exclude various races, sexes and classes, have all been challenged and overthrown. The goal of the inclusion of all excluded groups into the core moral principles of society has been avidly pursued – and often achieved – to the betterment of all.Skepticism of artificiality has also been a central thrust of modern thought – avoid plastics, chemicals, pesticides and so on. Buy organic, live naturally, embrace the wisdom of your ancestors – massive communities pursue these goal with avid abandon.We have terms for sexism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, classism – the list these days is virtually endless. Fear and hatred of the “other,” it is said, leads to hateful language, violence, terrorism – war, even.For all our modern wisdom, one word remains conspicuously absent from our endless patrolling of language, exclusion and contempt.Where is the word “childism”?Why do we not even have a word for prejudice against children?“Ah,” you may say, “but society treasures its children, devotes endless energies to training and raising its children – it would make no more sense to have a word called ‘childism’ than it would to have a word called ‘loveism.’ We cannot be prejudiced against that which we love!”Interesting.It is certainly true that society claims to worship and love its children, and does devote endless energies into training and raising them. The children are our future, our heritage, our worlds, the purpose of our life and being, the foundation of our civilization – you name it!Children are loved by society, and therefore we would never need a word to describe societies prejudice against children.If you love chocolate, you are not prejudiced against chocolate.If you love your wife, by definition you cannot hate and exclude her.What are you talking about?Well, philosophy is all about skepticism – and the longer the claim has been going on, and the more widespread it is – the more philosophers are inclined to question it.The modern world is founded on skepticism of accepted wisdom.Science, technology, engineering, medicine – these are all founded on skepticism of formally accepted “absolute truths.”

  • Chapter 3

    Chapter 3

    Do We Love Our Children? Love and violence are opposites. A man cannot justly claim to love a woman if he also beats her.A woman cannot claim to have great affection for her cat if she starves it.A bully who abuses his victim cannot claim to love that victim as well.What about love and exploitation?Can a boyfriend claim to love his girlfriend while surreptitiously running up massive bills on her credit cards?Enslaving others through debt is the opposite of love.It is time for a thought experiment.I want you to imagine a purple-skinned race of people.Society claims to love and value “the purples” – but what does that mean?Claims of affection are not proof of love – abusers usually claim to love their victims – stalkers terrify those they claim to treasure, exploitive corporations often refer to employees as being part of a loyal company “family.”Cults regularly engage in “love bombing” – the practice of showering affection on lonely people in order to stimulate a bond to an exploitive gang.It is true that society claims to love and treasure “the purples” – but as sensible, rational individuals, we should compare society’s ideals to the actual facts.How would we judge society’s proclaimed “love” for “the purples” if we found out the following:1. It is illegal to hit anyone in society – except the purples. You can hit the purples without repercussion. In fact, those who hit the purples are generally praised for “maintaining social order.”2. It is illegal to perform genital mutilation on anyone – except the purples. Carving up the genitalia of male purples is encouraged and praised.3. It is both legal and encouraged to use the future earnings of even the unborn purples as collateral for government spending.4. It is illegal to run up debt and force others to pay – except the purples. It is both legal and praised to greedily dump about a million dollars worth of debt on the newborn purples, who must submit to this enslavement and pay for this debt for the rest of their lives.5. Purples are regularly sexually assaulted. It happens to about one in three females, and about one in five males. Although this is technically illegal, prosecutions are exceedingly rare.6. Bad behaviours which are absolutely unacceptable in general society are accepted – and often praised – when inflicted against the purples. If a waiter gets your order wrong, it is absolutely unacceptable to yell insults at him – however, if a purple does something wrong, it is good to raise your voice at him or her.7. Those who verbally intimidate anonymous retail workers are scorned and insulted as “Karens” – those who verbally intimidate the purples are praised as good and noble people.8. In non-purple society, it is absolutely unacceptable – and often illegal – to physically punish or traumatize people who disappoint you, or disagree with you – or make mistakes. When dealing with purples, however, you are allowed to physically restrain them, hit them, scream at them, verbally abuse them, withhold necessary food, shake them and so on. As long as there is no permanent obvious injury afterwards, you’re fine!

  • Chapter 4

    Chapter 4

    PART 1: THEORY Peaceful Parenting: What Is It?The strangest thing about peaceful parenting is that it is nothing other than what we all accept and practice in the vast majority of our daily lives.Peaceful parenting is nothing alien or foreign or revolutionary or contradictory.Peaceful parenting is exactly what you teach your children – how you live your life – what you praise and want and prefer in almost everything you do.Is this incomprehensible to you?Let’s look at the larger picture. The historical picture, if you like.Peaceful parenting is the greatest moral revolution in the history of the world.It is the greatest progress that can be imagined.It both falls in line with – and extends – all prior moral progress.What do I mean?Well – science, technology and morality all progress when exceptions are eliminated.The more that local principles can be distilled into simple universals, the more power we gather over knowledge, nature – and ourselves.Early moral commandments forbade stealing – but only from one’s own tribe.It was fine to steal from those outside your tribe, but you should respect the property of your fellow cultists.Every planet and sun is a sphere – imagining that the Earth is flat creates an exception to a universal rule – and an exception to the physical laws which cause large masses of matter to collapse into spherical shapes.In ancient societies – and even in some contemporary ones – human rights and privileges are reserved for only some people – while those in the lower castes – as well as women and slaves – remain largely unprotected.Why do we allow these complications?Why do we invent rules – and then immediately start creating exceptions?Well, that is all about power.That which is complicated is almost certainly corrupt.Sometimes, changing a single variable can simplify the entire system – transforming it from corrupt to moral, from convoluted to correct.In the ancient world, when the Earth was considered the center of the universe, the retrograde motion of Mars – the fact that Mars seems to move backwards in the sky at times – was “explained” using the Ptolemaic system. This system was based on the belief that the Earth was at the center of the universe, and all orbits were perfect circles. Thus, in order to calculate the position of Mars, hundreds of calculations were required.After the early Middle Ages, when astronomers began to toy with the idea that the sun was the center of the solar system, the movement of Mars became enormously simple – the fact was that the Earth sometimes moves faster around the sun than Mars, because the Earth is closer – which makes Mars appear to move backwards in the sky.Simple.One of Isaac Newton’s greatest insights was the theory of gravity, which states that everything falls. An apple falls to the ground – the Earth falls around the sun, the moon falls around the Earth, and so on.Einstein also vastly simplified our understanding of the universe by rejecting the 19th-century theory of ether, and substituting the theory of relativity, and the famous equation E = MC squared...

  • Chapter 5

    Chapter 5

    Long SummaryIn this episode, we delve into the complex topic of child abuse and the societal contradictions surrounding it. The speaker argues that children are often treated like slaves, lacking the power to make choices or hold their parents accountable for their actions. They are provided with basic necessities, but are not allowed to speak up or punish their parents. The relationship between parents and children is likened to that of masters and slaves, with society supporting the "masters" (parents) and blaming the "slaves" (children).The speaker criticizes society for excusing the mistreatment of children while condemning historical slave owners and asserts that there can be no morality or integrity without upholding children's rights and treating them with respect and compassion. The speaker questions why popular media rarely shows child abuse, suggesting that parents are aware of peaceful parenting techniques but choose not to practice them.The speaker challenges the audience to imagine the public outcry if popular shows depicted parents physically or verbally abusing their children, questioning why aggressive parenting is justified in reality but condemned on screen. The contradiction between aggressive and peaceful parenting is explored, with aggressive parents believing that aggression is necessary to maintain discipline and keep children safe, while peaceful parents advocate for reasoning and consent. The speaker suggests that the aggressive and peaceful parenting personalities do not communicate with each other and that abusive parents restrain their behavior in public but unleash it behind closed doors.The episode also examines the evolution of abuse and how it tends to replicate through generations. The speaker highlights the rapid changes of the modern world compared to the repetitive experiences of prior generations. The speaker questions the reasons behind the tendency for those who were abused to become abusers themselves and emphasizes the need for understanding and compassion in the present.In conclusion, this thought-provoking episode challenges societal beliefs and sheds light on the contradictions and complexities surrounding child abuse and parenting techniques.Brief SummaryIn this episode, we discuss the complex topic of child abuse and the societal contradictions surrounding it. We argue that children are often treated like powerless individuals, lacking the ability to hold their parents accountable. We question why popular media rarely depicts child abuse, and highlight the contradiction between aggressive and peaceful parenting. We examine the cycle of abuse and emphasize the need for understanding and compassion in the present. Overall, this episode challenges societal beliefs and encourages a more compassionate approach towards children.Tagsepisode, child abuse, societal contradictions, powerless individuals, parents accountability, popular media, aggressive parenting, peaceful parenting, cycle of abuse, understanding, compassion, societal beliefs