Quotations

Many of the following quotations speak to me; some are merely interesting in the sense that so-and-so said such-and-such; others are just for fun; others I am quoting because they raise an interesting issue or because they are an example of a theory or kind of thinking I find problematic. (More quotes being added to this page often.)


“Children are the subject of more outrageous despotism than the most abused of the small nations.”

May 14, 1922, The Minneapolis Tribune


[I]t is easy for radicals to speak about liberty, but the real test for their love of liberty is in their relations with children.”

Benzion Liber, 1922, The Child and The Home: Essays on the rational bringing-up of children, Author’s reply to Sinclair, pp. 11-13


“‘[M]ost generally there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.’”

Eleanor H. Porter, Pollyanna, Chapter VII: Pollyanna and punishments


“The theory that truth is manifest – that it is there for everyone to see, if only he wants to see it – this theory is the basis of almost every kind of fanaticism. For only the most depraved wickedness can refuse to see the manifest truth; for only those who have reason to fear truth conspire to suppress it.”

Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, Introduction, p. 8


“…the simple truth is that truth is often hard to come by, and …once found it may easily be lost again.”

Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations, Introduction, p. 8


“There is reverence that we owe to every thing in human shape. I do not say that a child is the image of God. But I do affirm that he is an individual being, with powers of reasoning, with sensations of pleasure and pain, and with principles of morality; and that in this description is contained abundant cause for the exercise of reverence and forbearance. By the system of nature he is placed by himself; he has claim upon his little sphere of empire and discretion; and he is entitled to his appropriate portion of independence. Violate not thy own image in the person of thy offspring. That image is sacred. He that does violence to it is the genuine blasphemer. The most fundamental of all principles of morality is the consideration and deference that man owes to man; nor is the helplessness of childhood by any means unentitled to the benefit of this principle.”

William Godwin, 1797, The Enquirer, Part I, Essay X: Of domestic or family life, pp. 78-79


“Many of us learned as children that being fully alive was bad and you got hurt for it, so we deadened ourselves.”

Brad Blanton, 1994, Radical Honesty, p. xxvi


“How I hated this school, and what a life of anxiety I lived there for more than two years. I made very little progress at my lessons, and none at all at games. I counted the days and the hours to the end of every term, when I should return home from this hateful servitude and range my soldiers in line of battle on the nursery floor. The greatest pleasure I had in those days was reading. When I was nine and a half my father gave me Treasure Island, and I remember the delight with which I devoured it. My teachers saw me at once backward and precocious, reading books beyond my years and yet at the bottom of the Form. They were offended. They had large resources of compulsion at their disposal, but I was stubborn. Where my reason, imagination or interest were not engaged, I would not or I could not learn. In all the twelve years I was at school no one ever succeeded in making me write a Latin verse or learn any Greek except the alphabet.”

Winston Churchill, 1930, My Early Life: A roving commission, pp. 12-13


“I saw a … father, with a child [aged perhaps 18 months to two years old], waiting for a plane. The child wanted to walk around and explore, and the father was wise and kind enough to let him. As the child walked about in the waiting area and corridor, the man followed him, not so close as to make the child feel that he was being followed or pursued (which usually makes little children want to run) but close enough so that if the child got near anything that might hurt him, the father could move in and prevent it. Also, he stayed just close enough so that now and then, when the child in the middle of his exploring would suddenly think, ‘Where is Daddy?’ and would look around for a glimpse of a familiar face, he could find it. It was a wonderfully tactful and sensitive kind of supervision. The child wandered happily about, over not too great an area – for most small children are timid as well as bold – until he grew tired of exploring altogether and wanted a rest.”

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 10: The competence of children


“John B Watson, a ‘founding father’ of modern psychology, stated, ‘Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors.’ Watson’s shadow looms large in many families as parents try to make their children into their preferred version of success.”

Justin Coulson, 2018, 10 Things Every Parent Needs to Know


“When we are controlling other people, we cannot allow ourselves to truly see them, because to do so, we would have to be aware of the pain and suffering we are inflicting on them. So our tendency is to see their feelings as not real – that’s not real pain children suffer when they cry. (This is why controlling relationships can so easily lead to evil, because our tendency will be to fail to see the person we are trying to control as a person. As with slaves, women, ‘savages’, or ‘heathens’ – we transform our adversary into something that needs to be controlled: ‘Oh, children, they’re irrational, like rats; they feel safer when you control them; they need it.’)”

Roslyn Ross, 2015, A Theory of Objectivist Parenting, p. 26


“[T]he interactions of life’s earliest years lay down a set of emotional lessons based on the attunement and upsets in the contacts between infant and caretakers.”

Daniel Goleman, 1995, 2006, Emotional Intelligence, Chapter 2: Anatomy of an emotional hijacking, p. 22


“Let’s raise children who won’t have to recover from their childhood.”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Chapter 2: Connecting with children through respecting children, p. 96


“Some technologies really have reshaped our lives, minds, and societies. Almost always before the technology emerges people view it with exaggerated anxiety or anticipation, and after it’s become widely accepted they barely notice it and take it for granted.”

Alison Gopnik, The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children, Chapter 8: The future and the past: children and technology, The world of screens


“It’s no surprise we fail to tune into our children’s essence. How can we listen to them, when so many of us barely listen to ourselves? How can we feel their spirit and hear the beat of their heart if we can’t do this in our own life? When we as parents have lost our inner compass, is it any wonder so many children grow up directionless, disconnected, and discouraged? By losing contact with our inner world, we cripple our ability to parent from our essential being in the way conscious parenting requires.”

Shefali Tsabary, The Conscious Parent, Chapter 1: A real person like myself


“When we start to view behaviour as a form of communication – when we see hitting another child not as an act of malice, but rather our child telling us, ‘I need your help right now’ – then it is much easier to respond peacefully and calmly, and with the empathy that our children deserve. Although it can be so frustrating when our children act in ways which are difficult for us – especially when we are struggling too – we should remember that they are still learning self-control and finding ways to express themselves. We can help them by responding to their behaviour with empathy, and giving them the benefit of the doubt.”

Eloise Rickman, Extraordinary Parenting,


“Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance.”

Tara Brach, 2003, Radical Acceptance, p. 207


“If I thought of a future, I dreamt of one day founding a school in which young people could learn without boredom, and would be stimulated to pose problems and discuss them; a school in which no unwanted answers to unasked questions would have to be listened to; in which one did not study for the sake of passing examinations.”

Karl Popper, 1992 [1974], Unended Quest, p. 40


“ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS”

George Orwell, 1945, Animal Farm, Chapter 10, p. 111


“Children need to be enjoyed and valued, not managed.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Introduction, p. 45


“When other people, especially our children, are unhappy, denying their difficult feelings is sometimes our default option. It can feel like the right thing to do. … But when feelings are disallowed they do not disappear. They merely go into hiding, where they fester and cause trouble later on in life. Think about this: when do you need to shout the loudest? It is when you are not heard. Feelings need to be heard.”

Philippa Perry, 2019, The book you wish your parents had read (and your children will be glad that you did), pp. 44-45


“Self-leadership is a non-coercive, collaborative style of leadership. The Self will try to understand parts and people and release them from their extreme roles, rather than trying to force them to change.”

Richard C. Schwartz, 1995, Internal Family Systems Therapy


“[T]he experiences we have as children, mostly in our families of origin, have a profound impact on the rest of our lives. In response to difficult experiences, we create strategies or behavioral patterns to help us deal with what we experience as threats to our emotional, and sometimes even physical, survival. What we first use for our survival, we later use as a generalized and familiar way of engaging in life. These formulas or strategies are usually very intelligent and appropriate at the time they are created and are of very real benefit to us. As a result, they tend to become habitual and to then persist long after they are needed. Because they are responses to disturbing and even dangerous realities, they’re usually associated with quite a bit of anxiety. We avoid feeling this anxiety by pushing these strategies out of our awareness. They then continue to operate without our conscious participation, potentially for the rest of our lives, unless brought into awareness and challenged once we are adults.”

Bruce Tift, Already Free, Chapter 1: The developmental view, p. 15


“[E]xplanation is a strange sort of food – a larger portion is not necessarily harder to swallow. A theory may be superseded by a new theory which explains more, and is more accurate, but is also easier to understand, in which case the old theory becomes redundant, and we gain more understanding while needing to learn less than before.”

David Deutsch, 1997, The Fabric of Reality, Chapter 1: The theory of everything, p. 9


“Our system of education today threatens our whole social existence tomorrow. We should be wise if by decree we shut up all elementary schools at once, and kept them shut.”

D. H. Lawrence, 1918, Education of the People, II


“A child’s nature is too serious a thing to admit of its being regarded as a mere appendage to another being.”

Charles Lamb, 1823, Essays of Elia


“I hope that if evil days should come upon our own country, and the last army which a collapsing Empire could interpose between London and the invader were dissolving in rout and ruin, that there would be some – even in these modern days – who would not care to accustom themselves to a new order of things and tamely survive the disaster.”

Winston Churchill, 1899, The River War, p. 162


“‘Parent’ is not actually a verb, not a form of work, and it isn’t and shouldn’t be directed toward the goal of sculpting a child into a particular kind of adult. Instead, to be a parent – to care for a child – is to be part of a profound and unique human relationship, to engage in a particular kind of love. […] To be a wife is not to engage in ‘wifing,’ to be a friend is not to ‘friend,’ even on Facebook, and we don’t ‘child’ our mothers and fathers. Yet these relationships are central to who we are. […] We might say that we try hard to be a good wife or husband, or that it’s important to us to be a good friend or a better child. But I would not evaluate the success of my marriage by measuring whether my husband’s character had improved in the years since we wed. I would not evaluate the quality of an old friendship by whether my friend was happier or more successful than when we first met – indeed, we all know that friendships show their quality most in the darkest days. Nevertheless, this is the implicit picture of parenting – that your qualities as a parent can be, and even should be, judged by the child you create.”

Alison Gopnik, 2016, The Gardener and the Carpenter: what the new science of child development tells us about the relationship between parents and children, Introduction: The Parent Paradoxes: From parenting to being a parent


“[T]he full freedom to direct one’s own life also includes having private property in one’s own body, the liberty to acquire or relinquish private property, with the consent of others, and the enforcement of the obligations that others owe to one, in an environment in which the bulk of resources are freely exchangeable private property.”

Danny Frederick, 2020, Freedom, Indeterminism and Fallibilism, Chapter 7: Conclusion, p. 249


“Loving-kindness is not about being nice in some sentimental or superficial way: it is a fearless, passionate cherishing of everyone and everything, omitting none.”

Rick Hanson, Buddha’s brain : the practical neuroscience of happiness, love, and wisdom, p. 400


“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”

William Pitt The Younger, 1783, in a speech in the House of Commons, London, England, 18th November 1783, quoted in Hansard, col. 1209


“Even in the darkest times. Even in the strongest storms. Even when the sun is blotted out and the world is falling apart. The Darkness cannot extinguish your light. You. Your WILL. Your determination. No matter what is happening – no matter how hard the fight is. As long as you keep fighting – you win.”

Jocko Willink, 2017, Discipline equals freedom: Field manual, Part 1: Thoughts, p. 149


“[L]et him attend to his work, be glad in it, love his wife, be glad in her, bring up his children with joyfulness, love his fellow men, rejoice in life.”

Søren Kierkegaard, 1850, Training in Christianity


“A lot of parents will do anything for their children, except let them be themselves.”

Banksy


“[W]hen I see a very small child intent and absorbed in what he is doing and I am tempted to think of him as cute, [I say to myself] ‘That child isn’t trying to be cute; he … is as serious about what he is doing now as any human being can be, and he wants to be taken seriously.’”

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 12: On seeing children as cute


“Children lose their innocence from being repeatedly hurt in the natural course of life, even if they do not have abusive parents. If the adults who surround a child are intent on teaching them, the open innocence of childhood is even more quickly obliterated. Hatred is passed on from generation to generation through what we teach children ‘for their own good.’”

Brad Blanton, 1994, Radical Honesty, p. 29


“[O]ne cannot predict the future of the Sun without taking a position on the future of life on Earth, and in particular on the future of knowledge. The colour of the Sun ten billion years hence depends on gravity and radiation pressure, on convection and nucleosynthesis. It does not depend at all on the geology of Venus, the chemistry of Jupiter, or the pattern of craters on the Moon. But it does depend on what happens to intelligent life on the planet Earth. It depends on politics and economics and the outcomes of wars. It depends on what  people do: what decisions they make, what problems they solve, what values they adopt, and on how they behave towards their children.”

David Deutsch, 1997, The Fabric of Reality, Chapter 8: The significance of life, pp. 184-185


“The right of the parent over his child lies either in his superior strength or his superior reason. If in his strength, we have only to apply this right universally, in order to drive all morality out of the world. If in his reason, in that reason let him confide. It is a poor argument of my superior reason, that I am unable to make justice be apprehended and felt in the most necessary cases, without the intervention of blows.”

William Godwin, 1793, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness, VII.II p. 370


“The idea of painless, nonthreatening coercion is an illusion. Fear is the inseparable companion of coercion, and its inescapable consequence. If you think it your duty to make children do what you want, whether they will or not, then it follows inexorably that you must make them afraid of what will happen to them if they don’t do what you want. You can do this in the old-fashioned way, openly and avowedly, with the threat of harsh words, infringement of liberty, or physical punishment. Or you can do it in the modern way, subtly, smoothly, quietly, by withholding the acceptance and approval which you and others have trained the children to depend on; or by making them feel that some retribution awaits them in the future, too vague to imagine but too implacable to escape.”

John Holt, How Children Fail, Revised Edition, 1964, 1982, currently in print and published by Penguin, pp. 294-295


“[C]onflict is an opportunity for mutual growth and understanding. We are not advocating a need for perfect harmony in relationships, but a rupture that goes unacknowledged and leaves anger unresolved will do damage.”

Toni Herbine-Blank, Donna M. Kerpelman, and Martha Sweezy, 2016, Intimacy from the Inside Out: Courage and compassion in couple therapy, Chapter 12: ‘Repairing relationship rupture’, p.157


“Children lose confidence when they feel powerless. They disconnect either by withdrawing or by trying to control things.”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Chapter 4: Connecting through filling the love cup, p. 84


“‘Always regard every man as an end in himself, and never use him merely as a means to your ends.’ The spirit of Kant’s ethics may well be summed up in these words: dare to be free; and respect the freedom of others.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 9: Emanuel Kant: The philosopher of the Enlightenment, p. 306


“A respectful relationship requires presence, self-awareness, visibility, integrity, honesty, interacting with reality – internal as well as external.”

Roslyn Ross, 2015, A Theory of Objectivist Parenting, p. 32


“When parents don’t take responsibility for their own unfinished business, they miss an opportunity not only to become better parents but also to continue their own development. … An unresolved issue can make us quite inflexible with our children and often unable to choose responses that would be helpful to their development. We’re not really listening to our children because our own internal experiences are being so noisy that it’s all we can hear. We are out of relationship with them and we will probably continue taking the same actions that are unsuccessful and unsatisfying to us and to our children because we’re stuck in reactive responses based on our past experiences.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Chapter 1: ‘How we remember’, pp. 84-85


“[F]reedom lies in how we relate to our experience – whatever that experience is.”

Bruce Tift, Already Free, Introduction, p. 22


“It is tact that is golden, not silence.”

Samuel Butler, The Notebooks of Samuel Butler


“Reality has its own strength. […] Happily married couples who after many years get great strength and joy from each other’s company simply smile and go on with their life when they hear that marriage is nothing but a device for the exploitation of women, or whatever it may be. Their experience tells them better.”

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 4: The family and its purpose


“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work….I want to achieve it through not dying.”

Woody Allen, 1975, quoted in Eric Lax, Woody Allen and his Comedy, Chapter 12


“[S]ometimes we [parents] behave impatiently, yell, and act mean. For most of us, thinking about these missteps brings up a kind of shame that feels unbearable. You can choose to wallow in that, or you can choose to use it as a catalyst to learn and change. I invite you to do the latter.”

Hunter Clarke-Fields, 2019, Raising Good Humans, Introduction, p. 23


“What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined – to strengthen each other – to be at one with each other in silent unspeakable memories.”

George Eliot, Complete Works of George Eliot (Illustrated), p.5884, Delphi Classics


“When admirers of Ayn Rand seek my services professionally, they often come with the secret hope, rarely acknowledged in words, that with Nathaniel Branden they will at last become the masters of repression needed to fulfill the dream of becoming an ideal Objectivist . . . I have known many men and women who, in the name of lofty beliefs, crucify their bodies, crucify their feelings, and crucify their emotional lives, in order to live up to that which they call their values. Just like the followers of one religion or another who, absorbed in some particular vision of what they think human beings can be or should be, they leave the human beings they actually are in a very bad place: a place of neglect and even damnation.”

Nathaniel Branden, The Vision of Ayn Rand, Epilogue: The benefits and hazards of the philosophy of Ayn Rand


“My only solution for the problem of habitual accidents…is to stay in bed all day. Even then, there is always the chance that you will fall out.”

Robert Benchley, 1949, ‘Safety Second’ in Chips off the old Benchley


“Some day, maybe, there will exist a well-informed, well considered, and yet fervent public conviction that the most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child’s spirit; for such mutilation undercuts the life principle of trust, without which every human act, may it feel ever so good and seem ever so right, is prone to perversion by destructive forms of conscientiousness.”

Erik Erikson, 1962, Young Man Luther: A study in psychoanalysis and history, Chapter III: Obedience – to whom?, p. 70


“Learning to take care of ourselves creatively rather than resentfully is a big step in growing up. When we take such good care of ourselves that we have all we need, the overflow to generosity with others is possible. Prior to that, nurturing relationships between or among adults are not possible. … The primary, fundamental, essential, baseline, critical, lowest-level minimum requirement for happiness, without which there is no other hope, is a willingness to take care of oneself. The trouble is, people are generally willing to take care of almost anyone or anything else BUT themselves.”

Brad Blanton, 1994, Radical Honesty, p. 187-188


“To learn what you don’t know is always a step up. But why need we add to this the difficulty of making the child dislike the work? ‘Because it is necessary in this world to do what you don’t like!’ is the triumphant rejoinder. This is an enormous mistake. It is necessary in this world to like what you do, if you are to do anything worth while. One of the biggest of all our troubles is that so many of us are patiently and wearily doing what we do not like. It is a constant injury to the individual, draining his nervous strength and leaving him more easily affected by disease or temptation; and it is a constant injury to society, because the work we do not like to do is not as good as it would be if we liked it. The kind of forcing we use in our educational processes, the ‘attention’ paid to what does not interest, the following of required lines of study irrespective of inclination, – these act to blunt and lower our natural inclinations, and leave us with this mischievous capacity for doing what we do not like.”

Charlotte Perkins [Stetson] Gilman, 1900, Concerning Children, Chapter VII: Unconscious schooling, pp. 151-152


“Gentleness, patience, and love, are almost everything in education; especially to those helpless little creatures who have just entered into a world where everything is new and strange to them. Gentleness is a sort of mild atmosphere; and it enters into a child’s soul, like the sunshine into the rose-bud, slowly but surely expanding it into beauty and vigor.”

L. Maria Child, 1844, The Mother’s Book, Chapter I: The bodily senses, p. 2


“They say that children like routine, but do they? The times that stand out for me from my childhood are the times when the routine was broken: fire alarms at school, broken glasses, the stray match that landed in the fireworks box, cars breaking down. Broken routine adds intensity to life.”

Tom Hodgkinson, 2009, The Idle Parent, Chapter 17: Learn how to live from your kids


“[P]eople who are emotionally adept – who know and manage their own feelings well, and who read and deal effectively with other people’s feelings – are at an advantage in any domain of life, whether romance and intimate relationships or picking up the unspoken rules that govern success in organizational politics. People with well-developed emotional skills are also more likely to be content and effective in their lives.”

Daniel Goleman, 1995, 2006, Emotional Intelligence, Chapter 3: When smart is dumb, p. 36


“[C]ertain aspects of the process of emotion and feeling are indispensable for rationality. At their best, feelings point us in the proper direction, take us to the appropriate place in a decision-making space, where we may put the instruments of logic to good use. We are faced by uncertainty when we have to make a moral judgment, decide on the course of a personal relationship, choose some means to prevent our being penniless in old age, or plan for the life that lies ahead. Emotion and feeling, along with the covert physiological machinery underlying them, assist us with the daunting task of predicting an uncertain future and planning our actions accordingly.”

Antonio Damasio, 1994, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, p. 35


“To say that prediction is the purpose of a scientific theory is to confuse means with ends. It is like saying that the purpose of a spaceship is to burn fuel. In fact, burning fuel is only one of many things a spaceship has to do to accomplish its real purpose, which is to transport its payload from one point in space to another. Passing experimental tests is only one of many things a theory has to do to achieve the real purpose of science, which is to explain the world.”

David Deutsch, 1997, The Fabric of Reality, Chapter 1: The theory of everything, p. 7


“If a thing be really good, it can be shown to be such. If you cannot demonstrate its excellence, it may well be suspected that you are no proper judge of it. Why should not I be admitted to decide, upon that which is to be acquired by my labour?”

William Godwin, 1797, The Enquirer, Part I, Essay IX: Of the communication of knowledge, p. 69


“Shaming is an extraordinarily dynamic phenomenon that loops from external to internal relationships and back, gathering strength like a hurricane that can blow the message I am flawed and alone through generations. Yet the content of shaming is a motivated fiction, often a shame regulation strategy and not an accurate communication about the worth or singular (and therefore shameful) nature of the individual being shamed. We are born imperfect but not unacceptable, unique or alone. We spend our lives embedded in relational systems, usually external, always internal.”

Martha Sweezy, 2013, ‘Emotional Cannibalism: Shame in action’, in Internal family systems therapy: new dimensions, edited by Martha Sweezy and Ellen L. Ziskind, pp. 33-34


“School is an institution built on the axiom that learning is the result of teaching. And institutional wisdom continues to accept this axiom, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

Ivan Illich, 1970, Deschooling Society, p. 42


“It is never too late to create a stronger connection with our children.”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Introduction, p. 28


“[F]reedom is no mere ideology but a way of life which makes life better and more worth living.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 8: On culture clash, pp. 273-282


“Distraction is a tactic favoured by parents to divert children from having whatever experience they may be having. It’s commonly used, but it’s rarely appropriate. That’s because distraction is a trick and, in the long term, being manipulated will not help your child develop a capacity for happiness. […] What message does distraction convey? Imagine you fall over and badly graze your knee. How would you feel if your partner, instead of being concerned or interested in the pain or the blood or the embarrassment, pointed out a squirrel or promised that you could play your favourite video game?”

Philippa Perry, 2019, The book you wish your parents had read (and your children will be glad that you did), p. 62


“We human beings are Homo Hostilis, the hostile species, the enemy-making animal. We are driven to fabricate an enemy as a scapegoat to bear the burden of our denied enmity.”

Sam Keen, 1986, Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the hostile imagination


“We can’t allow ourselves to be visible to people we are trying to control; that would be ‘showing our cards’; they would know our weaknesses, and then they might ‘win.’ This leads to a loss of integrity since we are not being honest, so we will lie more, this time to ourselves. We will tell ourselves that we do not have to be honest because the people we are trying to control don’t merit our honesty.”

Roslyn Ross, 2015, A Theory of Objectivist Parenting, pp. 25-26


“Try not to fill children’s days. Let them live. The idle parent tries to unite two things: the now and the future. We must try to enjoy our own daily lives while ensuring that our children are enjoying theirs.”

Tom Hodgkinson, 2009, The Idle Parent, Chapter 11: End all activities; be wild


“Being a parent is the epitome of the unknown. Be-friending the unknown won’t make it all better, but it can make for quite the game.”

John Blase, 2013, Know When to Hold ’Em: The high stakes game of fatherhood, Chapter 3: Chancey faith


“In the unhappy home, discipline is used as a weapon of hate, and obedience becomes a virtue. Children are chattels, things owned, and they must be a credit to their owners. […] It is the self-disapproving parent who believes in strict discipline. […] The adult has striven for perfection in his own life, has failed miserably to reach it, and now attempts to find it in his children.”

A. S. Neill, 1960, Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing, Chapter 2: Child rearing, p. 286


“No one had a ‘perfect childhood’ and some of us had more challenging experiences than others. Yet even those with overwhelmingly difficult past experiences can come to resolve those issues and have meaningful and rewarding relationships with their children.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Introduction, p. 30


“In the environment of freedom, it turns out that there’s no problem with being fully human.”

Bruce Tift, Already Free, Introduction, p. 20


“Enterprising experiment is not only natural to childhood, but a positive virtue. That is the quality which leads the world onward, and the lack of it is a Chinese wall against progress.”

Charlotte Perkins [Stetson] Gilman, 1900, Concerning Children, Chapter IV: The child and the slipper, p. 93


“Who can blame a child for fretting and screaming, if experience has taught him that he cannot get his wants attended to in any other manner ?”

L. Maria Child, 1844, The Mother’s Book, Chapter IV: Management, p. 23


“Most children, some time during their growing up, become aware that much of the time their parents talk to them as they do not talk and would not dare to talk to any other people in the world. Of course, we justify ourselves in doing this, as in all our exercise of power over the young, by saying that we have their best interests at heart, are only doing it because we love them – like the proverbial parent saying before the spanking, ‘This hurts me more than it does you’ – perhaps one of the world’s oldest lies. […] And so the family home […] turns out much of the time to be the place where at least to our children we can be harsher, more cruel, more contemptuous and insulting, than we would be anywhere else. This supposed refuge for the young becomes the place of greatest danger, where they can get in more and worse trouble than anywhere else, and with people whose support and protection they most depend on.”

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 8: One use of childhood


“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Viktor Frankl, 1959, Man’s Search for Meaning


“People who have chosen to regard themselves as victims cannot allow themselves to enjoy life, because enjoying life would challenge their perception of themselves as victims.”

Dennis Prager. Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual, Chapter 17: Seeing yourself as a victim, p. 138


“Daddy sat up very late working on a case of Scotch.”

Robert Benchley, 1925, Pluck and Luck, p. 198


“No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or dispossessed, or outlawed or exiled, or in any way destroyed.”

Magna Carta, 1215


“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.”

Martin Luther, 1569, Table Talk


“To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher.”

Blaise Pascal, 1670, Pensées, 4


“Dumby: Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
Cecil Graham: One shouldn’t commit any.
Dumby: Life would be very dull without them.”

Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Act III


“Love is granting another the space to be the way they are and the way they aren’t so they can change if they want to and they don’t have to.”

Werner Erhard


“‘At nine o’clock every morning you will read aloud one half-hour to me. Before that you will use the time to put this room in order. Wednesday and Saturday forenoons, after half-past nine, you will spend with Nancy in the kitchen, learning to cook. Other mornings you will sew with me. That will leave the afternoons for your music. I shall, of course, procure a teacher at once for you,’ [Aunt Polly] finished decisively, as she arose from her chair.

Pollyanna cried out in dismay.

‘Oh, but Aunt Polly, Aunt Polly, you haven’t left me any time at all just to – to live.’”

Eleanor H. Porter, Pollyanna, Chapter VI: A question of duty


“Most of us never overcome the butchering of our upbringing enough to discover how to tolerate the experience of freedom and learn to relish having it.”

Brad Blanton, 1994, Radical Honesty, p. 87


“Feelings, along with the emotions they come from, are not a luxury. They serve as internal guides, and they help us communicate to others signals that can also guide them. And feelings are neither intangible nor elusive. Contrary to traditional scientific opinion, feelings are just as cognitive as other percepts.”

Antonio Damasio, 1994, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, p. 40


[John Holt had taken some young people to France on a trip, and on the way home, he says] “I asked my companions what had impressed them most of all the things they had seen and done, what did they most want to bring back with them and make a part of their lives. Almost all of them said, ‘We like the daily family dinner, all the family coming together, young and old and in between, with plenty of time for leisurely talk, a chance for everyone to have his say, no one left out.’ They spoke with surprising nostalgia, longing, and regret. Without exception, these otherwise typical young Americans told me that in their families, and in all the families they knew, such family meals hardly ever took place – only at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and such special occasions.”

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 3: Childhood in history


“[O]nce we understand that the growth of human knowledge is a physical process, we see that it cannot be illegitimate to try to explain how and why it occurs. Epistemology is a theory of (emergent) physics. It is a factual theory about the circumstances under which a certain physical quantity (knowledge) will or will not grow. The bare assertions of this theory are largely accepted. But we cannot possibly find an explanation of why they are true solely within the theory of knowledge per se. In that narrow sense, Popper was right. The explanation must involve quantum physics, the Turing principle and, as Popper himself stressed, the theory of evolution.”

David Deutsch, 1997, The Fabric of Reality, Chapter 13: The four strands, p. 341


“This plan is calculated entirely to change the face of education. The whole formidable apparatus which has hitherto attended it, is swept away. Strictly speaking, no such characters are left on the scene as either preceptor or pupil. The boy, like the man, studies, because he desires it. He proceeds upon a plan of his own invention, or which, by adopting, he has made his own. Every thing bespeaks independence and equality. The man, as well as the boy, would be glad in cases of difficulty to consult a person more informed than himself. That the boy is accustomed almost always to consult the man, and not the man the boy, is to be regarded rather as an accident, than anything essential. Much even of this would be removed, if we remembered that the most inferior judge may often, by the varieties of his apprehension, give valuable information to the most enlightened. The boy however should be consulted by the man unaffectedly, not according to any preconcerted scheme, or for the purpose of persuading him that he is what he is not.”

William Godwin, 1797, The Enquirer, Part I, Essay IX: Of the communication of knowledge, pp. 71-72


“It turns out that our needs are pretty simple: to be seen and embraced, and to see and embrace. When we can clear away enough of the jungle to do that, we find a partner for life whose goal is to support our mutual learning and unburdening. With that blessing comes the joy of knowing we are doing what we are here to do, and we are not doing it alone.”

Richard C. Schwartz, 2008, You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For: Bringing courageous love to intimate relationships, p. 122


“It is an adult’s job to meet a child’s emotional needs. It is not a child’s job to meet an adult’s emotional needs. Did you ever have to hug or kiss a relative even when you did not want to? Do you remember what that felt like? […] Demanding that children hug or kiss family members or a friend does not teach children to be affectionate. It teaches children that they don’t get to decide about their bodies.”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Chapter 2: Connecting with children through respecting children, p. 51


“To avoid misunderstandings I wish to make it quite clear that I use the terms ‘liberal’, ‘liberalism’, etc., always in a sense in which they are still generally used in England (though perhaps not in America): by a liberal I do not mean a sympathizer with any one political party but simply a man who values individual freedom and who is alive to the dangers inherent in all forms of power and authority.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 11: Public opinion and liberal principles, note 1, p. 366


“An authentic response is not behaviorism. If a baby takes his first steps and his mother responds, “How exciting! You’re walking!” that is an authentic expression of her feelings. If she says, “You’re walking! Good job!” with the conscious or unconscious belief that her approval will encourage him to walk more, that is behaviorism.”

Roslyn Ross, 2015, A Theory of Objectivist Parenting, p. 10


“It is always good to know, if only in passing, charming human beings. It refreshes one like flowers and woods and clear brooks.”

George Eliot, 1901, The Personal Edition of George Eliot’s Works


“A culture of compassion promotes appreciation of differences, mutual respect, compassionate interactions, and empathic understanding among family members. … A culture of compassion in the home promotes the attitude that sharing others’ emotions, feeling their pain and their joys, is valuable. … When family members understand and respect each other, they are more likely to act in caring ways.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Chapter 9: ‘How we develop mindsight: compassion and reflective dialogues’, pp. 600-601


“America’s abundance was not created by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes.”

Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The unknown ideal, Chapter 1: What is capitalism?


“Let the child be where he is happiest. We owe it to him.”

Benzion Liber, 1923, The Child and The Home: Essays on the rational bringing-up of children, 2nd enlarged edition, Second Part: Some Practical Advice: The child’s dwelling place, p. 47


“Are we ready to stop pretending to not be fully present and engaged at every moment? To stop waiting for some future enlightenment, or for our past wounds to heal, before we’re fully committed to, and available to, life?”

Bruce Tift, Already Free, Introduction, p. 21


“The idea that ‘the public interest’ supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others.”

Ayn Rand, 1962, The Objectivist – Volumes 1-4, p. 38


“On this subject I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – AND I WILL BE HEARD…”

William Lloyd Garrison, 1831, The Liberator


“It may be said without hesitation that for man the most important stressors are emotional.”

Hans Selye, The Stress of Life, p. 370


“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Lord Acton (John Emerich Edward Dahlberg, first Baron Acton), Letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 3 April 1887, in Louise Creighton, 1904, ‘Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton, vol. 1, ch. 13


“All Truth goes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Then it is violently opposed. Finally, it is accepted as self-evident.”

Arthur Schopenhauer


“It’s amazing to look back now, […] and remember how incredibly difficult [being a parent of a young child] was. We shared wonderful, life-altering joy and she pushed buttons in me that I didn’t even realize I had. At that time, I didn’t know that I was reenacting my own father’s temper, perpetuating a pattern passed down through the generations.”

Hunter Clarke-Fields, 2019, Raising Good Humans, Introduction, p. 21


“You can’t raise your kids exactly like you were raised. Besides, you don’t want them to turn out exactly like you anyway.”

John Blase, 2013, Know When to Hold ’Em: The high stakes game of fatherhood, Chapter 11: A different road


“[T]he idle mother does not actually avoid work. On the contrary, like the idle father, she embraces it. Work of her own choosing, that is, independent work, autonomous work, creative work. […] For the idle mother, it is not a choice between ‘going back to work’ or ‘staying at home.’ She explores that vast and rich territory between those two barren poles. She creates her own job, one that she can fit around her children or even stop doing for a few years. And having made the conscious decision to both work and look after the children, she enjoys both. It is our habit of seeing life as a series of burdens imposed on us by outside forces that creates misery. Once we recognise that we are free and responsible creatures, the burden is lifted.”

Tom Hodgkinson, 2009, The Idle Parent, Chapter 3: Seek not perfection, or why bad parents are good parents


“Sometimes I receive letters from people who have heard that I am an expert in stress management. They ask me to suggest what they can do about stress and various psychosomatic disorders. … Whatever advice I give them will be used as another principle to beat themselves over the head with, which is what caused the problem in the first place.”

Brad Blanton, 1994, Radical Honesty, p. 8


“Throughout our Galaxy and the multiverse, stellar evolution depends on whether and where intelligent life has evolved, and if so, on the outcomes of its wars and on how it treats its children.”

David Deutsch, 1997, The Fabric of Reality, Chapter 8: The significance of life, p. 185


“How to begin to educate a child. First rule, leave him alone. Second rule, leave him alone. Third rule, leave him alone. That is the whole beginning.”

D. H. Lawrence, 1918, Education of the People, VI


“I am not interested in creating a certain sort of child for a certain sort of role in society. I am interested in making everyday life enjoyable for both parent and child. We should give up the idea of an ideal or perfect education. Everything else will follow from the simple principle of fun, now. Indeed, attempting to look into the future is one of the most dangerous habits when it comes to kids, whose every instinct is to remain gloriously in the present.”

Tom Hodgkinson, 2009, The Idle Parent, Chapter 2: Stop the whining


“To conceive that compulsion and punishment are the proper means of reformation is the sentiment of a barbarian.”

William Godwin, 1793, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness, p. 373


“Next to the right to life itself, the most fundamental of all human rights is the right to control our own minds and thoughts. That means, the right to decide for ourselves how we will explore the world around us, think about our own and other persons’ experiences, and find and make the meaning of our own lives. Whoever takes that right away from us, by trying to ‘educate’ us, attacks the very center of our being and does us a most profound and lasting injury. He tells us, in effect, that we cannot be trusted even to think, that for all our lives we must depend on others to tell us the meaning of our world and our lives, and that any meaning we may make for ourselves, out of our own experience has no value.”

John Holt, 1976, Instead of Education Chapter 1: Doing, Not ‘Education’, p. 4


“Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.

Julia Cameron, 2016, The Artist’s Way, p. 120


“Forcing children to share their toys is coercion. When we use our size and power to force children to share, they comply out of fear, not generosity. […] If they own something, they expect to be able to decide about it. Being respectful means that we respect children’s right to decide about their things.”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Chapter 2: Connecting with children through respecting children, p. 50


“We are democrats, not because the majority is always right, but because democratic traditions are the least evil ones of which we know. If the majority (or ‘public opinion’) decides in favour of tyranny, a democrat need not therefore suppose that some fatal inconsistency in his views has been revealed. He will realize, rather, that the democratic tradition in his country was not strong enough.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 11: Public opinion and liberal principles, III. Liberal Principles: A Group of Theses, p. 356


“[W]hen we, as parents, combine the mind destruction of external motivators with playing the role of a warmly authoritative benevolent dictator to our children, we create in our children a habit of subjugation that only ‘heroically independent exceptions’ will escape.”

Roslyn Ross, 2015, A Theory of Objectivist Parenting, p. 35


“It’s important to remember that even if your children’s messages don’t immediately make sense to you, they are trying to get their needs met in the best way they can at that point in time.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Chapter 4: ‘How we communicate: making connections’, pp. 212-213


“Having turned the child into an ideal abstraction, many parents […] have a trajectory (life) all mapped out for this child, and they are constantly monitoring him to see whether he is on the path or whether he needs a little boost from this rocket (psychologist) here or a sideways push from that rocket (learning specialist) there. Is he on course? Is he on schedule? Is he in the correct attitude?”

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 13


“For me, something shifted a number of years ago. […] Before this shift, my baseline – what I returned to, spontaneously, off and on, every moment – was feeling, to some extent, like a problematic person. I was always trying to improve, trying to wake up, trying to feel completely at peace. From that ground of dissatisfaction, moments of clarity, peace, and freedom would arise. But those moments were temporary, and I would always return to a more fundamental sense of problem. Then this shift happened.”

Bruce Tift, Already Free, Introduction, pp. 18-19


“And it struck her, this was tragedy – not palls, dust, and the shroud; but children coerced, their spirits subdued.”

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse


“Philosophy begins in wonder. And, at the end, when philosophic thought has done its best, the wonder remains.”

A. N. Whitehead, 1938, Modes of Thought


“[W]ithout the making of theories I am convinced there would be no observation.”

Charles Darwin, 1860, quoted in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin Volume II, C. Darwin to C. Lyell, June 1st, 1860, p. 108


“Men are still expected to be successful, worldly, confident, masculine, powerful, and wealthy. And there is often an Inner Critic just waiting to judge us if we fall down in any of these areas – or worse yet, a Critic that constantly attacks us for never being adequate.”

Jay Earley and Bonnie Weiss, 2013, Freedom from your inner critic: a self-therapy approach, p. 187


“It is customary, but I think it is a mistake, to speak of happy childhood. Children are often overanxious and acutely sensitive. Man ought to be man and master of his fate; but children are at the mercy of those around them.”

Lord Avebury, 1887


“We are born princes, and the civilizing process makes us into frogs.”

Eric Berne


“A Frog Farmer[:] A woman who brings out the worst in men – thus turning Princes into Frogs instead of vice versa.”

Alison A. Armstrong, The Queen’s Code, V. Pumpkin Hours to Desserts


“We all have areas of our lives in which we work in this effortless, powerfully creative way, and other areas in which we struggle impotently without results. Those whose creative power has been unavailable to them in an area they want to change can rediscover this power of intention when they seriously take responsibility for creating their whole lives right now, including their phony smokescreen struggle. … Responsibility means that whatever you are doing, you are willing to experience yourself as the cause. You are the source of your troubles as well as of your successes. Wherever you are on the way to reaching your goals – … the willingness to experience yourself as responsible is the crucial element of success. As long as you are blaming, explaining, apologizing, trying, resolving to be good, hoping or feeling guilty, you are not being responsible. Trying to experience yourself as responsible won’t work.”

Brad Blanton, 1994, Radical Honesty, pp. 212-213


“In what manner would reason, independently of the received modes and practices of the world, teach us to communicate knowledge? Liberty is one of the most desirable of all sublunary advantages. I would willingly therefore communicate knowledge, without infringing, or with as little possible violence to, the volition and individual judgement of the person to be instructed.”

William Godwin, 1797, The Enquirer, Part I, Essay IX: Of the communication of knowledge, pp. 67-68


“[T]here is no longer a ‘problem of induction’ because we do not in fact obtain or justify theories from observations, but proceed by explanatory conjectures and refutations instead.”

David Deutsch, 1997, The Fabric of Reality, Chapter 13: The four strands, p. 332


“Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.”

Mark Twain, 1883, Sketches, A Curious Dream, p. 291


“Some of the disrespectful ways adults treat children have been said and done to children for so long, we are often unaware that they are disrespectful. When you were a child did any adult ever:
• Prompt you to say please and thank you?
• Insist that you say you were sorry?
• Force you to share your toys?
• Demand that you to hug or kiss family members or friends when you didn’t want to?
• Give orders instead of requests?
• Talk about you in front of you as if you were not there?
Can you remember how it felt to be treated that way?”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Chapter 2: Connecting with children through respecting children, p. 47


“Institutions alone are never sufficient if not tempered by traditions. Institutions are always ambivalent in the sense that, in the absence of a strong tradition, they also may serve the opposite purpose to the one intended.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 11: Public opinion and liberal principles, III. Liberal Principles: A Group of Theses, pp. 356-357


“We can’t be present with our child in this moment if we are busy thinking of ways to get him to do what we want him to do and monitoring whether what we are doing is working. This limits our ability to enjoy our relationships with our children, to be consciously aware of them, to connect.”

Roslyn Ross, 2015, A Theory of Objectivist Parenting, p. 25


“It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.”

Benjamin Disraeli, 1839, in a speech in the House of Commons, quoted in Hansard, 20th June 1839, Volume 48, Col 580


“Even with babies we must take care to learn to read their signals and to respect them.”

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 11: The child as love object


“We learn how someone is feeling by putting ourselves ‘in the other person’s shoes’ – we know how others are feeling by how our own body/mind responds. We check our own state to know the state of mind of another person. This is the basis for empathy. At the heart of feeling joined is the experience of empathic emotional communication. The way one mind becomes interwoven with another is through the sharing of the surges of energy that are our primary emotions. When children feel positive sensations, such as in moments of joy and mastery, parents can share these emotional states and enthusiastically reflect and amplify them with their children. Likewise, when children feel negative or uncomfortable sensations, such as in moments of disappointment or hurt, parents can empathize with their feelings and can offer a soothing presence that comforts their children. These moments of joining enable a child to feel felt, to feel that she exists within the mind of the parent. When children experience an attuned connection from a responsive empathetic adult they feel good about themselves because their emotions have been given resonance and reflection.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Chapter 3: ‘How we feel: emotion in our internal and interpersonal worlds’, pp. 175-177


“By what right, I ask you, are we going to inject into him our own disease-germs of ideas and infallible motives? By the right of the diseased, who want to infect everybody.”

D. H. Lawrence, 1922, Fantasia of the Unconscious, Chapter VII: First Steps in Education


“Hang out, in that wonderful American phrase. Don’t do things. Let things happen. Just sit one day around the table, start talking and see what happens. You will be amazed at all the wonderful ideas that come out of the children’s minds, and amazed at the creativity that you will find in yourself if you simply stop and listen.”

Tom Hodgkinson, 2009, The Idle Parent, Chapter 12: No more family days out


“I find that when people open to the possibility that they are being aggressive toward themselves, it invites curiosity and, perhaps down the road, maybe even a little more gentleness.”

Bruce Tift, Already Free, Chapter 1: The developmental view, p. 61


“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”

Aldous Huxley, 1932, Texts and Pretexts


“If ‘reliving trauma’ did work, people with PTSD would recover after their first flashback.”

Mark Tyrrell, 2014, 3 Reasons I Never Have My Clients Relive Their Traumatic Experiences: Why ‘talking through the trauma’ only embeds it, [link]


“We are all the walking wounded. Most of us are still interested in clarity and the truth, but at the same time we are interested in making a case for how our childhood was worse than average and how we’re better than everyone else.”

Brad Blanton, 1994, Radical Honesty, p. xii


“[T]he amygdala can take control over what we do even as the thinking brain, the neocortex, is still coming to a decision.”

Daniel Goleman, 1995, 2006, Emotional Intelligence, Chapter 2: Anatomy of an emotional hijacking, p. 15


“I propose that human reason depends on several brain systems, working in concert across many levels of neuronal organization, rather than on a single brain center. Both ‘high-level’ and ‘low-level’ brain regions, from the prefrontal cortices to the hypothalamus and brain stem, cooperate in the making of reason.

The lower levels in the neural edifice of reason are the same ones that regulate the processing of emotions and feelings, along with the body functions necessary for an organism’s survival. In turn, these lower levels maintain direct and mutual relationships with virtually every bodily organ, thus placing the body directly within the chain of operations that generate the highest reaches of reasoning, decision making, and, by extension, social behavior and creativity. Emotion, feeling, and biological regulation all play a role in human reason. The lowly orders of our organism are in the loop of high reason.”

Antonio Damasio, 1994, Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, p. 36


“Feeling insignificant because the universe is large has exactly the same logic as feeling inadequate for not being a cow. Or a herd of cows.”

David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity, Chapter 2


“According to the received modes of education, the master goes first and the pupil follows. According to the method here recommended, it is probable that the pupil should go first, and the master follow.”

William Godwin, 1797, The Enquirer, Part I, Essay IX: Of the communication of knowledge, p. 70


“You may have heard said about a painful situation in a child’s life – like divorce, a loved one’s death, or abuse – ‘But kids are so resilient.’ And by resilient, the person means, ‘This difficult situation isn’t really having that much of an impact on that child.’ Or, ‘He’ll get over it.’ May I tell you, emphatically, that is not true! Children are not resilient in that sense of the word. They are often experiencing as much or more pain as the adults involved, but they have fewer coping strategies to survive. They may have figured out creative ways to numb their pain or keep it hidden…”

Jenna Riemersma, 2016, Altogether You: Experiencing personal and spiritual transformation with Internal Family Systems therapy, Chapter 4: Listening well to our exiles


“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

The Bible, Romans 7:15


“Most of our notions about the world come from a set of assumptions which we take for granted, and which, for the most part, we don’t examine or question. We bring these assumptions to the table with us as a given. They are so much a part of who we are that it is difficult for us to separate ourselves from them enough to be able to talk about them. We do not think these assumptions, we think from them.”

Werner Erhard, quoted in Lucy Kellaway, 2012, ‘Lunch with the FT: Werner Erhard’, The Financial Times, April 28, 2012.


“[M]y answer to the traditional question of epistemology, ‘How do you know that? What is the source or the basis of your assertion? Upon what observations is it founded?’ is: ‘Of course I am not saying that I know anything: my assertion was only meant as a conjecture, a hypothesis. Nor should we worry about the source, or the sources, from which my conjecture may have sprung: there are many possible sources, and I am by no means aware of them all. In any case, origin and pedigree have very little to do with truth. But if you are interested in the problem that I tried to solve by my tentative conjecture, then you can help me. Try to criticise it as severely and as objectively as you can! And if you can devise an experiment which you think might refute my assertion, then I am prepared to do everything in my power to help you to refute it.’”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 2: On knowledge and ignorance, XI, pp. 123-124


“[O]ne might say that all those students are learning something. Perhaps they are. But they will not long remember more than a small part of it, or use or benefit from more than a small part of that. They are learning this stuff to pass exams. Most of them could not pass the same exam even a year later, to say nothing of ten years later. And, if some of what they learn should someday prove useful, they would probably have learned it ten times faster when they needed to use it and thus had a reason for learning it.”

John Holt, 1972, Freedom and Beyond, p. 200


“[N]o path leads from experiment to the birth of a theory.”

Albert Einstein, quoted in The Sunday Times 18th July, 1976


“[L]oving-kindness … calls on equanimity to keep the heart open, especially in the face of great pain or provocation. Kindness is for everyone – ‘omitting none,’ in the traditional phrase – with all beings held as ‘us’ in your heart. … You can even be kind to parts of yourself. For example, it’s touching and powerful to be kind to the little child within you. You could also be kind to aspects of yourself that you wish were different, such as a craving for attention, a learning disability, or a fear of certain situations.”

Rick Hanson, Buddha’s brain : the practical neuroscience of happiness, love, and wisdom, pp. 396-397


“I am all for intellectual boldness. We cannot be intellectual cowards and seekers for truth at the same time.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 13: How I see philosophy, p. 401


“Drink a glass of wine at bath time. I’m not saying for a moment that you stop loving, hugging, kissing and praising your children and calling them beautiful and wonderful. But all this will come naturally if you enjoy your life and stop resenting their intrusion. […] Hold on to your pleasures.”

Tom Hodgkinson, 2009, The Idle Parent, Chapter 3: Seek not perfection, or why bad parents are good parents


“I fight with everything I’ve got: To overcome those weaknesses and those shortfalls and those flaws as I strive to be just a little bit better today than I was yesterday …”

Jocko Willink, 2017, Discipline equals freedom: Field manual, Part 1: Thoughts, p. 37


“It is one of the great injustices in this world that so often people who are abused as children are doomed to lives of recurrent mistreatment by the beliefs and emotions they accumulated during the initial abuse. Often such people are blamed by family members … for choosing and deriving pleasure from their plight. ‘There has to be something she’s getting from being with such an awful guy.’”

Richard C. Schwartz, 2008, You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For: Bringing courageous love to intimate relationships, p. 81


“[M]ost adults around children do not act as people do when they are with people they like, but very much the opposite. They are anxious, irritable, impatient, looking for fault and usually finding it. There is no ease, let alone joy. And this is true of people on vacation, or celebrating, or going to the park, or coming out of one of the big shows, or doing things that one might have supposed and hoped might be fun. There is always this air of strain, tension, conflict, and a frightening kind of patience that is not a good-humored acceptance but anger barely held back by an effort of will.”

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 7: The burden of having children


“Thus life proceeds, like scientific discovery, from old problems to the discovery of new and undreamt-of problems.”

Karl Popper, 1972, Objective Knowledge, p. 146


“We know that children need attention, but attention is not the same as connection. We can pay attention to children and still not connect with them emotionally. Children need high quality time to meet their minimum daily requirement for connection. We provide high quality time by engaging with children. […] We give children attention by watching and acknowledging them. We provide connection by engaging with them. Attention feels good, but connection feels better. Children seeking attention are requesting connection.”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Chapter 4: Connecting through filling the love cup, pp. 81-82


“Only intellectual rogues are immodest.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 8: On culture clash, pp. 273-277


“When my son was two years old people kept asking me, ‘Is he defiant yet?’ This is a question that would only make sense to someone who operates in the system of control. I don’t operate there, so I would say something like, ‘To be defiant, one must have someone to defy. There must be a ruler and a subject, someone in control and someone being controlled. I don’t relate to my son in that way.’ ‘Ah,’ the people would reply, smiling sadly at me, ‘you’re permissive. You just let your son do whatever he wants!’ If I am not authoritative, I must be permissive; if I’m not the master, I must be the slave. This is the same false dichotomy.”

Roslyn Ross, 2015, A Theory of Objectivist Parenting, pp. 39-40


“Tradition is – apart from inborn knowledge – by far the most important source of our knowledge.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 3: On the so-called sources of knowledge, p. 49


“When our internal experience keeps us from connecting with our children, their experience of our intense emotion may trigger the arousal of a defensive emotional state in them. When this takes place, we are no longer in a collaborative relationship but each person has separated into his or her own internal world and feels alone and isolated. When both the parent’s and the child’s authentic, inner self is hidden behind the mental walls of psychological defense, neither person feels connected or understood. When our children feel this sense of aloneness they may express their fear or discomfort at this disconnection either by behaving aggressively or by withdrawing. Children’s behavior may then become the focus of our attention and our own feeling of isolation can keep us from making meaningful attempts at reconnecting with our children. In this way, our own emotional issues can create responses in our children that further impair our ability to emotionally understand them or ourselves. Without emotional understanding it is difficult to feel connected. Emotional relating opens the door for collaborative, integrative communication in which a dialogue can take place that allows us to connect to each other.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Chapter 3: ‘How we feel: emotion in our internal and interpersonal worlds’, pp. 187-188


“Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing.”

George Bernard Shaw, 1903


“Imagine being a little child standing out in the world and feeling threatened. You might put up a wall for protection or even hide in a little box. That would help, but it would also keep you from feeling connected with the environment. In the same way, when we put up a psychological barrier, we end up feeling disconnected from ourselves and from life. Being alienated and disconnected from life doesn’t feel good, and so we suffer. What we don’t understand is that we’re the ones choosing – with very good reason – to put up the wall. It’s not happening to us; we’re doing it ourselves. The very success of our effort to protect ourselves leads inevitably to an experience of feeling divided against ourselves and separate from the world. We feel alienated from life.”

Bruce Tift, Already Free, Chapter 1: The developmental view, pp. 48-49


“Behind the ideas of orthodoxy and of heresy the pettiest of vices lie hidden; those vices to which the intellectuals are particularly prone: arrogance, smugness verging on dogmatism, intellectual vanity.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 14: Toleration and intellectual responsibility, I, p. 427


“If you grew up in a family who habitually have contact with each other through conflict, you might have become inured to raised voices or even shouting; indeed, they may even have associations of love for you. If, on the other hand, you come from a family who shied away from any confrontation, you may be deeply uncomfortable with anger. If you felt manipulated when you were growing up, you may distrust or feel uneasy with warmth and love because you expect it to be accompanied by a sting.”

Philippa Perry, 2019, The book you wish your parents had read (and your children will be glad that you did), p. 46


“You take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.”

Erica Jong


“[O]ne had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect [upon me] that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year. […] It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail.”

Albert Einstein, quoted in Paul Arthur Schilpp, 1959, Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, p. 17


“The effects of infantile instruction are, like syphilis, never completely cured.”

Robert Briffault, 1931


“The trouble with sentimentality, and the reason why it always leads to callousness and cruelty, is that it is abstract and unreal. We look at the lives and concerns and troubles of children as we might look at actors on a stage, a comedy as long as it does not become a nuisance. And so, since their feelings and their pain are neither serious nor real, any pain we may cause them is not real either. In any conflict of interest with us, they must give way; only our needs are real. Thus when an adult wants for his own pleasure to hug and kiss a child for whom his embrace is unpleasant or terrifying, we easily say that the child’s unreal feelings don’t count, it is only the adult’s real needs that count. People who treat children like living dolls when they are feeling good may treat them like unliving dolls – fling them into a corner or throw them downstairs or out of the window – when they are feeling bad. ‘Little angels’ quickly become ‘little devils.’

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 12: On seeing children as cute


In his 1990 book, Unfathomed Knowledge, Unmeasured Wealth: on universities and the wealth of nations, published by Open Court, W. W. Bartley, III gives a list of things Karl Popper “taught us in his formal lectures and in his writings” then writes:

“In his seminars he taught us:

• To do your work, you must have a scientific or intellectual problem, not a topic.

• Do not try to be path-breaking or original. Find a problem that excites you. Work on it and take what you get.

• You must want to communicate to your reader; you must be clear, never use big words or anything needlessly complicated. (‘Write it for Tirzah,’ he would say – referring to Agassi’s eight-year-old daughter.) Do not use logical symbols or mathematical formulae, for instance, if you can possibly avoid it. Know logic, but do not parade it.

• It is immoral to be pretentious, or to try to impress the reader or listener with your knowledge. For you are ignorant. Although we may differ in the little things we know, in our infinite ignorance we are all equal.

• Do not be attached to your ideas. You must expose yourself, put yourself at risk. Do not be cautious in your ideas. Ideas are not scarce: there are more where they came from. Let your ideas come forth: any idea is better than no idea. But once the idea is stated, you must try not to defend it, not to believe it, but to criticise it and to learn from discovering its defects. Ideas are only conjectures. What is important is not the defence of any particular conjecture but the growth of knowledge.

• So be scrupulous in admitting your mistakes: you cannot learn from them if you never admit that you make them.”

W. W. Bartley, III, 1990, Unfathomed Knowledge, Unmeasured Wealth: On universities and the wealth of nations, Chapter 9: The Popperian philosophy and the difficult man who started it all, pp. 158-159


“One of the most remarkable camouflages is the hypocrisy with which an adult treats a child. An adult sacrifices a child’s needs to his own, but he refuses to recognize the fact, since this would be intolerable. He persuades himself that he is … acting for the future good of the child. When the child defends himself, the adult does not advert to what is really happening but judges whatever the child does to save himself as disobedience and the result of evil tendencies. The feeble voice of truth and justice within the adult grows weak and is replaced by the false conviction that one is acting prudently, according to one’s right and duty, and so forth. The heart is hardened.”

Maria Montessori, 1979, The Secret of Childhood, p. 176


“The warfare going on inside us, disowned, gets projected into the outside world. We make our enemies the very picture of evil, justifying our anger at the same time we avoid the immediate experience of it.”

Brad Blanton, 1994, Radical Honesty, p. 103


“Scientific knowledge, like all human knowledge, consists primarily of explanations. Mere facts can be looked up, and predictions are important only for conducting crucial experimental tests to discriminate between competing scientific theories that have already passed the test of being good explanations.”

David Deutsch, 1997, The Fabric of Reality, Chapter 1: The theory of everything, p. 30


“[T]he true antidote to shame is self-compassion, which has the additional benefit of helping people take responsibility for their behavior and actions.”

Toni Herbine-Blank, Donna M. Kerpelman, and Martha Sweezy, 2016, Intimacy from the Inside Out: Courage and compassion in couple therapy, Chapter 9: ‘Shaming and feeling shamed’, p.129


“Children need at least one person in their life who thinks the sun rises and sets on them, someone who delights in their existence and loves them unconditionally.”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Chapter 4: Connecting through filling the love cup, p. 79


“There are many people living in a modern society who have no, or extremely few, intimate personal contacts, who live in anonymity and isolation, and consequently in unhappiness. For although society has become abstract, the biological make-up of man has not changed much; men have social needs which they cannot satisfy in an abstract society.”

Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, [both volumes in one Apple Book], Volume I: The Spell of Plato, Chapter 10: The Open Society and its Enemies, I, p. 390


“Children do not like being incompetent any more than they like being ignorant. They want to learn how to do, and do well, the things they see being done by bigger people around them. This is why they soon find school such a disappointment; they so seldom get a chance to learn anything important or do anything real.”

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 12: On seeing children as cute


“Learn and respect your child’s style for processing a rupture and making a reconnection. Timing is important. If you feel rebuffed after your first attempt, don’t give up. Your child wants to be back in a warm and positive relationship with you. It is the parent’s role to initiate repair and you should find another time to initiate a reconnection. … Reconciliation does not happen if you are trying to place blame. As the parent, you have the responsibility to own your behavior and know your internal issues.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Chapter 8: ‘How we disconnect and reconnect: rupture and repair’, p. 513


“If I thought of a future, I dreamt of one day founding a school in which young people could learn without boredom, and would be stimulated to pose problems and discuss them; a school in which no unwanted answers to unasked questions would have to be listened to; in which one did not study for the sake of passing examinations.”

Karl R. Popper, Unended Quest


“When we disown parts of who we are, we end up feeling divided against ourselves. We feel there’s a part of us that is problematic and even dangerous; shameful or embarrassing; unworthy of love from others. […] We subconsciously feel that there’s a problem with who we are and that we must never go there; we must never have a relationship with that part of ourselves.”

Bruce Tift, Already Free, Chapter 1: The developmental view, p. 48


“I shall feel that I have got to be back at a certain time and it would hang like a dark shadow over my pleasure.”

Winston Churchill, in a July 1897 letter to his mother, arguing against even one hour of tutoring a day in his summer holidays, quoted in Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert, 1991, Chapter 1: Childhood. For the full letter, and other letters expressing similar requests, see Winston Churchill’s letters, quoted in Randolph S. Churchill, 1966, Winston S. Churchill: Youth, 1874-1900, Chapter 4: Brighton


“Here is a little-known psychological truth – a paradox, too: you acquire more influence with young people when you give up using your power to control them! … [T]he more you use power to try to control people, the less real influence you’ll have on their lives. Why? Because power methods create resistance (not doing what the adult wants), rebellion (doing the opposite), or lying (not doing it but saying you did).”

Thomas Gordon, 1989, Teaching Children Self-Discipline, p. 7


“If only we would stop setting man against man – often with the best intentions – much would be gained.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 14: Toleration and intellectual responsibility, I, p. 425


“I sometimes wonder how it was that the mischief done was not more clearly perceptible, and that the young men and women grew up as sensible and goodly as they did, in spite of the attempts almost deliberately made to warp and stunt their growth. Some doubtless received damage, from which they suffered to their life’s end; but many seemed little or none the worse, and some almost the better. The reason would seem to be that the natural instinct of the lads in most cases so absolutely rebelled against their training, that do what the teachers might they could never get them to pay serious heed to it.”

Samuel Butler, 1872, Erewhon, p. 135


“As John Locke wisely observed, children are lovers of liberty. They resist confinement. […] We should learn from these liberty-lovers to resist enclosure ourselves, rather than attempting to drag the kids down to our slavish level. Forget ideas of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviour. Keep instead the poles of ‘free’ and ‘enslaved’ in your mind. Reduce authority and enlarge freedom.”

Tom Hodgkinson, 2009, The Idle Parent, Chapter 17: Learn how to live from your kids


“The duty of the child to the parent was largely invented by parents, from motives of natural self-interest, and has been so long sanctioned and practised that we look on without a shudder and see a healthy middle-aged mother calmly swallowing the life of her growing daughter. […] The child does not owe the parent.”

Charlotte Perkins [Stetson] Gilman, 1900, Concerning Children, Chapter VIII: Presumptuous age, pp. 162-164


“I have said much in praise of gentleness. I cannot say too much. Its effects are beyond calculation, both on the affections and the understanding. The victims of oppression and abuse are generally stupid, as well as selfish and hard-hearted. How can we wonder at it? They are all the time excited to evil passions, and nobody encourages what is good in them. We might as well expect flowers to grow amid the cold and storms of winter.”

L. Maria Child, 1844, The Mother’s Book, Chapter IV: Management, p. 46


“Taking responsibility means a person no longer blames outside circumstances, or other people, or past events for the conditions of his own life.”

Brad Blanton, 1994, Radical Honesty, p. xxviii


“When you are free of your Inner Critic, you accept yourself just as you are, including any limitations or problems. Your Inner Mentor helps you to be aware of your shortcomings without judgment. We are all works in progress. When you unconditionally accept yourself, it is easier to look at your issues because you don’t judge yourself for them. You can hold up a mirror to look honestly at yourself because you don’t have a Critic breathing down your neck.”

Jay Earley and Bonnie Weiss, 2013, Freedom from your inner critic: a self-therapy approach, p. 237


“The inductivist or Lamarkian approach operates with the idea of instruction from without, or from the environment. But the critical or Darwinian approach only allows instruction from within – from within the structure itself.

In fact, I contend that there is no such thing as instruction from without the structure, or the passive reception of a flow of information which impresses itself on our sense organs. All observations are theory-impregnated. There is no pure, disinterested, theory-free observation.

[…]

We do not discover new facts or new effects by copying them, or by inferring them inductively from observation, or by any other method of instruction by the environment. We use, rather, the method of trial and the elimination of error. As Ernst Gombrich says, ‘making comes before matching’: the active production of a new trial structure comes before its exposure to eliminating tests.”

Karl R. Popper, The Myth of the Framework, pp. 8-9


“A consistent, loving connection with at least one adult is essential to create the healthy, strong parent-child bond that children need to thrive.”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Introduction, p. 15


“[T]he human situation with respect to knowledge is far from desperate. On the contrary, it is exhilarating: here we are, with the immensely difficult task before us of getting to know the beautiful world we live in, and ourselves; and fallible though we are we nevertheless find that our powers of understanding, surprisingly, are almost adequate for the task – more so than we ever dreamt in our wildest dreams. We really do learn from our mistakes, by trial and error. And at the same time we learn how little we know – as when, in climbing a mountain; every step upwards opens some new vista into the unknown, and new worlds unfold themselves of whose existence we knew nothing when we began our climb.

Thus we can learn, we can grow in knowledge, even if we can never know – that is, know for certain. Since we can learn, there is no reason for despair of reason; and since we can never know, there are no grounds here for smugness, or for conceit over the growth of our knowledge.”

Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, [both volumes in one Apple Book], Volume II: The High Tide of Prophecy: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath, 1961 Addendum, 11: Social and political problems, pp. 1054-1055


“By freeing ourselves from the constraints of our past, we can offer our children the spontaneous and connecting relationships that enable them to thrive. By deepening our ability to understand our own emotional experience, we are better able to relate empathically with our children and promote their self-understanding and healthy development.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Introduction, pp. 27-28


“Children only hurt others when they are hurting. A hurtful child is a ‘hurt-filled’ child. When we punish a child for being hurtful, we hurt the already hurting child.”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Chapter 3: Connecting through listening to children’s feelings, p. 68


“We are fallible, and prone to error; but we can learn from our mistakes.”

Karl Popper, 1972, Objective Knowledge, p. 265


“I asked [ninth graders this] question: ‘If you could legally live away from home, how many of you think that at least some of the time you would do so?’ Every hand shot into the air, so quickly and violently that I half expected shoulders to pop out of joint. Faces came alive. Clearly, I had touched a magic button. […] I think that they were… saying that they want to live, at least for a while, among other people who might see them and deal with them as people, not as children.”

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 2: The institution of childhood


“The theory I have in mind is one which does not proceed, as it were, from a doctrine of the intrinsic goodness or righteousness of a majority rule, but rather from the baseness of tyranny; or more precisely, it rests upon the decision, or upon the adoption of the proposal, to avoid and to resist tyranny.

For we may distinguish two main types of government. The first type consists of governments of which we can get rid without bloodshed – for example, by way of general elections; that is to say, the social institutions provide means by which the rulers may be dismissed by the ruled, and the social traditions ensure that these institutions will not easily be destroyed by those who are in power. The second type consists of governments which the ruled cannot get rid of except by way of a successful revolution – that is to say, in most cases, not at all. I suggest the term ‘democracy’ as a shorthand label for a government of the first type, and the term ‘tyranny’ or ‘dictatorship’ for the second.”

Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, [both volumes in one Apple Book], Volume I: The Spell of Plato, Chapter 7: The Principle of Leadership, II, pp. 294-295


“The condition of a … slave in the West-Indies, is in many respects preferable to that of the youthful son of a free-born European. The slave is purchased upon a view of mercantile speculation; and, when he has finished his daily portion of labour, his master concerns himself no further about him. But the watchful care of the parent is endless. The youth is never free from the danger of grating interference.”

William Godwin, 1823, The Enquirer, Part I: Essay VIII: Of the happiness of youth, p. 60


“So many times parents have said, ‘I never thought I’d do or say the very things to my children that felt hurtful to me when I was a child. And yet I find myself doing exactly that.’ Parents can feel stuck in repetitive, unproductive patterns that don’t support the loving, nurturing relationships they envisioned when they began their roles as parents.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Introduction, p. 22


“When we have a strong connection with children, we are more likely to notice their early, subtle cues of need, before need escalates to pain. The less connected we are, the less likely we will notice children’s cues. If we don’t respond to children’s cues, they have to become more emphatic in communicating their needs to attract our attention.”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Chapter 6: Connecting through the discipline of decoding children’s behavior, p. 125


“…it is of the utmost importance to give up cocksureness, and become open to criticism.”

Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, Volume II: The High Tide of Prophecy: Hegel, Marx, and the Aftermath, p. 387


“You and I possess within ourselves at every moment of our lives, under all circumstances, the power to transform the quality of our lives.”

Werner Erhard, cited in William Warren Bartley, 1978, Werner Erhard: The transformation of a man: the founding of est p. 104


“The intrusions of unresolved issues can directly influence how we … interact with our children. When unresolved issues are writing our life story, we are … no longer making thoughtful choices about how we want to parent our children, but rather are reacting on the basis of experiences in our past. It’s as if we forfeit our ability to choose our direction and put ourselves on automatic pilot without even knowing where the pilot is taking us. We often try to control our children’s feelings and behavior when actually it is our own internal experience that is triggering our upset feelings about their behavior.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Chapter 1: ‘How we remember’, pp. 85-86


“If two parties disagree, this may mean that one is wrong, or the other, or both: this is the view of the criticist. It does not mean, as the relativist will have it, that both may be equally right. …As two wrongs don’t make a right, two wrong parties to a dispute do not make two right parties.”

Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies Volume 2, p. 387


“Some people’s view of education is … that one is making the child’s mind into what one thinks it ought to be. But if that were the case, there would never be any progress, because children would be just like their parents, and students would be just like their professors.”

David Deutsch, quoted in Sarah Fitz-Claridge, 1996, Taking Children Seriously, TCS 21


“We expect children to be respectful, yet we continually order them around. […] We yell, threaten, and punish, demonstrating to them that power and coercion are our go-to tools.”

Hunter Clarke-Fields, 2019, Raising Good Humans, Introduction, p. 23


“Let us consider the effect that coercion produces upon the mind of him against whom it is employed. It cannot begin with convincing; it is no argument. It begins with the sensation of pain, and the sentiment of distaste. It begins with violently alienating the mind from the truth with which we wish it to be impressed. It includes in it a tacit confession of imbecility. If he who employs coercion against me could mould me to his purposes by argument, no doubt he would. He pretends to punish me because his argument is strong; but he really punishes me because his argument is weak.”

William Godwin, 1793, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness, VII.II p. 370


“Do your children know that they matter to you? Mattering is crucial for building feelings of worth and value, and growing resilience.”

Justin Coulson, 2018, 10 Things Every Parent Needs to Know, Chapter 2: Mattering and belonging


“Children feel better and more connected to us when we listen to their feelings without interrupting, giving advice, or trying to fix it. Listening to children’s feelings builds connection and strengthens the bond.”

Pam Leo, 2005, 2007, Connection Parenting: parenting through connection instead of coercion, through love instead of fear, second edition, Chapter 3: Connecting through listening to children’s feelings, p. 57


“I believe it is the duty of every intellectual to be aware of the privileged position he is in. He has a duty to write as simply and clearly as he can, and in as civilized a manner as he can; and never to forget either the great problems that beset mankind and demand new and bold but patient thought, or the Socratic modesty of the man who knows how little he knows.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 13: How I see philosophy, XI, p. 418


“The battle for youth is one with the gloves off. None of us can be neutral. We must take one side or the other: authority or freedom; discipline or self-government. No half measures will do. The situation is too urgent.”

A. S. Neill, 1960, Summerhill, Chapter 5: Children’s problems, p. 296


“Self-sacrifice is a thing that should be put down by law. It is so demoralising to the people for whom one sacrifices oneself.”

Oscar Wilde, 1895, An Ideal Husband


“[A] scientist’s study – with its papers and other resources in a certain configuration – is an extension of his mind. So just as academic freedom is necessary for progress in science, freedom of thought in the wider sense – including the freedom to dispose one’s working environment in the way one chooses – is equally essential. Children’s lives and ‘work’ are automatically integrated (except when forcibly separated by school and suchlike), because their lives consist of learning. So if you intrude into their bedroom, which is usually the only private space they have, you are intruding into their minds. Then they will not be able to learn to use that space creatively, and the development of their creativity will be disabled. Being forced to enact someone else’s idea about the disposition of one’s working environment is tantamount to enacting someone else’s idea of what one’s mind should be.”

David Deutsch, quoted in Sarah Fitz-Claridge, 1996, Taking Children Seriously, TCS 21


“That man brings a certain character into the world with him, is a point that must readily be conceded. The mistake is to suppose that he brings an immutable character.”

William Godwin, 1823, The Enquirer, Part I: Essay IV: Of the sources of genius, p. 21


“People ask me, what is special in my mentorship which has made Malala so bold and so courageous and so vocal and so poised? I tell them don’t ask me what I did. Ask me what I did not do. I did not clip her wings, and that’s all.”

Ziauddin Yousafzai (father of Malala Yousafzai)


“It is our habit of seeing life as a series of burdens imposed on us by outside forces that creates misery. Once we recognise that we are free and responsible creatures, the burden is lifted.”

Tom Hodgkinson, 2009, The Idle Parent, Chapter 3: Seek Not Perfection, or Why Bad Parents Are Good Parents


“How can happiness be bestowed? My own answer is: Abolish authority. Let the child be himself. Don’t push him around. Don’t teach him. Don’t lecture him. Don’t elevate him. Don’t force him to do anything. It may not be your answer. But if you reject my answer, it is incumbent on you to find a better one.”

A. S. Neill, 1960, Summerhill, Chapter 5: Children’s problems, p. 297


“We, who sail under the flag of freedom, are bullies such as the world has never known before: idealist bullies: bullying idealism, which will allow nothing except in terms of itself. […] Drag a lad […] through the processes of education, and what do you produce in him, in the end? A profound contempt for education, and for all educated people. It has meant nothing to him but irritation and disgust. And that which a man finds irritating and disgusting he finds odious and contemptible.”

D. H. Lawrence, 1918, Education of the People, I


“Reactions tend to shut our children down.”

John Blase, 2013, Know When to Hold ‘Em: The high stakes game of fatherhood, Chapter 2: Response-able fathering


“Work or play are all one to him, his games are his work; he knows no difference. He brings to everything the cheerfulness of interest, the charm of freedom, and he shows the bent of his own mind and the extent of his knowledge.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1762, Émile, Book II


“Reverence for human personality is the beginning of wisdom, in every social question, but above all in education.”

Bertrand Russell, 1928, Sceptical Essays, Freedom Versus Authority in Education, p. 172


“In my opinion […] the duty of the parent […] is this: to encourage all experiments of the child and assist him in reaching such conclusions as he will adopt as his own, so that he may, by the process of elimination, discard futile and false ideals.”

Homer Lane, cited in Elsie Theodora Bazeley, 1928, Homer Lane and the Little Commonwealth, p. 51


“[W]hen we think of children as cute we abstract and idealize them, judge them, exploit them, and, worst of all, teach them to exploit us and each other, to sell themselves for smiles and rewards. This is in every way bad for them and for their relations with us.”

John Holt, 1974, Escape From Childhood, Chapter 13


“Your children give you the opportunity to grow and challenge you to examine issues left over from your own childhood. If you approach such challenges as a burden, parenting can become an unpleasant chore. If, on the other hand, you try to see these moments as learning opportunities, then you can continue to grow and develop. Having the attitude that you can learn throughout your life enables you to approach parenting with an open mind, as a journey of discovery.”

Daniel J. Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2004, 2014, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive, 10th anniversary edition, Introduction, p. 37


“A mother, father, and their seven-year-old daughter were seated in a restaurant. The waitress first took the order from the adults, and, then, she turned to the little girl. ‘What will you have?’ she asked. The little girl looked timidly at her parents and, then, said to the waitress, ‘I’ll have a hot dog on a bun.’ ‘No hot dog,’ said her mother. ‘She’ll have a nice piece of roasted chicken.’ ‘With mashed potatoes and vegetables,’ added her father. The waitress kept looking straight at the little girl and she asked, ‘Would you like ketchup or mustard on your hot dog?’ ‘Mustard, please,’ replied the girl. ‘Coming right up,’ said the waitress, as she headed toward the kitchen. The family sat in stunned silence. Finally, the little girl looked at her parents and said, ‘You know what? She thinks that I am real!’”

Rabbi Wayne Dosick, 1995, Golden Rules, p. 11


“…we are all equal in our infinite ignorance.”

Karl R. Popper, 1984, In Search of a Better World, Chapter 2: On knowledge and ignorance, XI, p. 40


“His Drink should be only Small Beer; and that too he should never be suffered to have between Meals, but after he had eat a Piece of Bread. […] And it being the Lullaby used by Nurses, to still crying Children, I believe Mothers generally find some Difficulty to wean their Children from Drinking in the Night, when they first take them home. […] I once lived in a House, where, to appease a froward Child, they gave him Drink as often as he cried; so that he was constantly bibbing: And tho’ he could not speak, yet he drank more in Twenty four Hours than I did. […] Above all, Take great Care that he seldom, if ever, taste any Wine, or Strong Drink. There is nothing so ordinarily given Children in England, and nothing so destructive to them. They ought never to drink any Strong Liquor, but when they need it as a Cordial, and the Doctor prescribes it. And in this Case it is, that Servants are most narrowly to be watched, and most severely to be reprehended when they transgress. Those mean Sort of People […] foolishly think ’twill do the Child no Harm. […] [T]here [is] nothing that lays a surer Foundation of Mischief, both to Body and Mind, than Children being used to Strong Drink; especially, to drink in private, with the Servants.”

John Locke, 1693, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, pp. 16-20


“If we are for liberty, we must allow the individual traits in men to exist. If we are for progress, we must encourage them and do all in our power for their development.”

Benzion Liber, 1923, The Child and The Home: Essays on the rational bringing-up of children, 2nd enlarged edition, First Part: Fundamental Errors, p. 24


“As between children and grown people, it is the grown people that need training.”

Gail Hamilton, 1875, Nursery Noonings, III: Bringing up parents, p. 63


“The predominant focus is often on how to fix our kids, how to make them behave, how to get them to sleep, how to get them into a good college and guarantee success. In short, how to make them into what we want them to be. […] What happened to joy? Happiness? Exuberance? We don’t need to be so hard on them or ourselves. […] [W]e can motivate more with compassion than criticism. Really. We can shift the focus from constant doing to simply being.”

Susan M. Pollack, 2019, Self-Compassion for Parents, Introduction, p. 1


“[W]hen oppressed we naturally rebel […] The more rules, the more rules there are to be broken. […] Children resist tyranny at every turn. Do not become a Captain Bligh, ruling through fear, hunger and the lash until the men can see no other option but mutiny.”

Tom Hodgkinson, 2009, The Idle Parent, Chapter 2: Stop the whining


Sarah Fitz-Claridge, ‘Quotations’, https://www.fitz-claridge.com/quotations/