The Evolution of Children's Rights by Dayna Martin

Dayna Martin delivered this powerful and eye-opening speech at the beginning of our FREE YOUR FAMILY event held this month in Shenzhen to a rapt and engaged audience. Enjoy, and tell us what you think.

"The Evolution of Children's Rights" by Dayna Martin

Children are the most discriminated against people in our culture today. Much of the damage that many of us are healing from is directly related to how we were parented and treated in our lives growing up. As children, we were controlled and abused, even if we were not aware of it. Control and abuse may have been all that the adults in our lives knew as parenting tools because it was how they had been have raised themselves. There is a better way – a more peaceful and respectful way to live with children. This approach is revolutionary, influential yet challenging. It takes reevaluating our role as parents and unbrainwashing our minds which have been conditioned by the institution of school. I have faith that our culture is ready. Let me help you step into this new awareness.

We were raised in an era where the parental role was focused on obedience and control. As children, we were trained to believe that life is about taking orders, which in essence only met the needs of the adults in our lives. Children learn what they live. Being raised in an authoritarian paradigm, children learn that forcing others to meet their needs is what life is all about. Living this way creates a cycle of narcissism that our culture blames on a parent not being controlling enough!

Most people who choose to homeschool their children purchase a curriculum and do what schools do, at home. It is the same model and mindset of forced learning, control, and injustice. When parents follow someone else’s idea of what they think kids should know at a certain age, it distances them from their children and distrust of the child’s abilities begins. When parents evaluate, grade and compare their children to others, it cripples learning and damages the parent/child relationship, the very foundation necessary for authentic learning and growth.

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When children are respected and allowed true freedom, most of them choose to live life without attending school and all of the trappings that go along with it. For our children, this means living life without a forced curriculum or traditional school work. We do not break life down into subjects; we do not grade or make our kids do workbook pages or busy work. We trust that our kids will learn what they need on their life path to be happy and in turn, be successful. This level of trust in children is virtually unheard of in our culture because most of us were never trusted as children ourselves. This has led to years of healing for many of us to rekindle our trust for our inner voices and abilities in life. I see every day that giving my children freedom and always in every area of their lives serves to keep their internal voices, self-love, and creativity intact and strong. This is one of the greatest gifts that you can give another human being – to trust them.

I do not look at myself as my children’s teacher. I am not standing in front of them pouring knowledge into them as the all-knowing authority. My job is to give them as much of the world as possible for them to learn and grow. I look at myself as a facilitator of my children’s interests and desires in life. I do not have to know all the answers. I do, however, need to know how to find answers through the resources that the world offers. Through the internet, television, books, video games, day trips, vacations, community resources, and apprenticeships, we offer our children more than traditional schooling could ever provide. Our kids are learning that answers aren’t always black and white. They are learning about different theories and philosophies and developing their own beliefs. In short, we are raising free-thinkers!

Another critical aspect of protecting my children’s rights is honoring the fundamental human right to freedom of mind. We do not try to pry into their minds to assess what they know. Children today do not have this basic human right, and their minds are prodded continuously. This treatment of children is incredibly invasive and not an accurate way to discover what another person truly knows. I believe that what my children are learning is their business, and it’s not right or necessary to continually be trying to evaluate them or their knowledge.

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Education is not the primary focus of our lives. Instead, our focus is on family connection and pursuing our passions and interests together. Happiness and love guide our days. Our children do get a phenomenal education, however, as a side effect of living a rich, joyful life together. Our home is filled with interesting things to explore and learn from like music, art, games, and crafts. Our kitchen cabinets are full of ingredients for cooking and for experiments. Our home library overflows with mind-expanding reading material, informative magazines, and intriguing games and puzzles. Instead of viewing our home as a museum of our stuff, we view it as a workshop of our passions and resource center for learning and personal growth.

Children are human beings who live in the moment, quite naturally. Our cultural view is that they should always be preparing for the future, instead of truly being present in what they are learning and experiencing. Then as adults, we take classes and read self-help books in an attempt to get back to that natural state of being present. Continually preparing kids for the future is like adults having to sit in a classroom, against their will all day, every day, waiting for retirement. How fulfilling would our lives be if this was forced upon us?

Education is an integral part of life, but not before laying the solid, necessary foundation of trust, connection, and joy of living together and doing things we love as a family. We choose to put our family before the institution of school. I cannot imagine needing to ask permission for time with my children or having to live our lives on a school’s agenda. It is not real freedom! The school’s needs always come before family needs. To me is madness, and I choose not to have that be a part of our lives at all. We live our lives together because we want to be together as a family. Our kids want to be around us, and we want to be around our kids. When you don’t indoctrinate your children in school, the bond and connection that you have stays intact and strong.


The idea of quitting something doesn’t exist in our lives because a child will complete as much as they want of a topic until they are personally satisfied. When they’ve gained enough knowledge or information that meets their own needs, they move on. Our children’s work doesn’t have to be finished or completed according to someone else’s standards. Unschooled kids can go as far as they choose to understand a topic. This aspect of natural learning is different than in a forced learning situation where children are not only forced to finish things to someone else’s standards but are also graded on how well they perform. The focus when it comes to forced learning is not on content, but on compliance and obedience above all else.

We respect our children on their paths in what they want to know in life. Our children have ownership of their lives and live with full autonomy. Our lives are focused on trust, freedom, and the belief that humans learn best when they are internally motivated. When their desires drive them, children they learn what they need to, and it will not be according to someone else’s idea of what is best for them. Learning is pleasurable when it isn’t forced. Children want to learn and figure out our world! They do not need to be forced or coerced to do so and in fact, will learn less when we give them the message that we know best, and they are not capable.


We are not all meant to know the same things in life. Children in school are all being forced to learn the same subjects and content. This is so unrealistic and unnatural. Every human being has different strength and skills. Through living true freedom with our children, we recognize this fact. Children living with their human rights respected have just as much knowledge as children in school, but their knowledge is perfectly catered to who they are as an individual. When a parent is actively facilitating learning, this is the most comprehensive and perfectly individualized education that one could ever receive.

My children have learned to read by being surrounded by the written word. It is total immersion learning. When our children ask us how to spell something, we do not quiz or test them; we share the answer and act as a valued resource. We don’t ask condescending questions to quiz them. We don’t tell them to go look it up. Total immersion learning is honoring our children as unique learners. My son, Devin learned to read by playing online games. He was so motivated to play the game and chat with his friends that he picked it up very quickly. He learned when his mind was ready and when he was internally motivated because reading was a tool in his life to helping him get more of what he wanted.

Reading, writing, and math are tools to help us get more of what we want and need in life. These useful tools would be learned quickly, if we weren’t so convinced that learning them was tedious and difficult, taking years of practice, training and focus. In our lives, these tools have been picked up easily, quickly and naturally. I think schools want to lead us to believe that learning the “basics” is something that they own the patent to. Don’t buy into this lie because of your own experience in school. It wasn’t learning to read that was difficult. It was the timing and method that created the illusion that learning was painful.


Our children’s interests and passions are something we respect as an extension of who they are. I do not judge one interest as having more value than another. I see the learning in all that my children and not just what schools deem as worthy to learn. We were brainwashed to believe that only school subjects hold value. It takes time to undo this deeply held belief, but it is essential to embrace natural learning. I believe that the most important subject in my child’s life is whatever they are interested in.

My child’s interest is the nucleus of their learning at any given moment. Although we don’t break life down into subjects, if you were to dissect my children’s interests, you would see that they touch on all of the traditional school subjects and more. We live life with passion and facilitate their learning in the same way. In doing so, our children get an education perfectly catered to who they are as individuals, without ever having to force them to do anything that they don’t want to do.

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We live in a world where parents are told to control and modify their children’s behavior. They are told that this is the goal of parenting. Most parents take pride in how obedient their children are and feel embarrassed when their children do not listen to them. It wasn’t very long ago that men were told to beat their wives if they didn’t obey. Men were encouraged by their fathers, friends, and leaders to punish their wives harshly for disobedience. Look how far we have come since then! Men would be arrested today if they lived life this way now.


I believe that the same evolution is happening with children and their rights. We are on the cusp of change. In time, we will look back on these days with disgust and regret. When we can acknowledge the injustice that children live through being controlled, punished, and forced to live a subservient life we can begin to heal ourselves from our own upbringing.

We have never punished our children. Yet, they are compassionate, caring and respectful people. We have always focused on the needs under their behavior, instead of attempting to control them. We open our hearts to understanding that children are doing the best with what they know at any given time. I know that many adults can’t even control their behavior after thirty or forty years of life experience and yet, we expect children to be able to control their emotions after just a few short years on earth. We have very unrealistic expectations of children in our culture today.

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Parents today are doing the best they can with what they know, yet many are feeling empty and wondering why their kids do not like them or want to be around them. We hear words like rebellion and chalk it up to normalcy, but what if there was nothing to rebel against? What if we lived the respect for our children that we demand they have for us? What if we could recognize that the punishments model injustice and that through using power to control another person we are teaching them to do the same? It is through loving kindness and understanding that our children learn to love and learn peace. In turn, they will reflect this back to the world.

Families who live in peace and freedom do not usually deal with rebellion from their children because we are never the wall standing between them and their desires. In fact, we see our role as helping our children get what they want in life. We move from power struggles and control to connection and partnership. When we make this shift, we discover the love and deep feelings of joy that we are naturally meant to experience as parents.


Adults interact with children very differently than they interact with adults. They are constantly training them: good job, bad job, don’t do that, do this. This incessant control and judgment is an unnatural way to interact with another human being whom you value and love. Children instinctually know this and feel the negative energy of control from the adults around them. Living in a role as your child’s trainer meets the needs of the government who wants this breaking down of children, so they do not become free-thinking adults! Authoritarian parenting does not meet our needs. It only meets the needs of those in power.

There is a huge distinction between authoritarian parenting and partnership parenting. One way meets the needs of the parents only and the other respects the needs of everyone in the family equally. People do not see training a child as being unkind, but it’s very frustrating for the child to have someone attempting to control their behavior all the time and never valuing or trying to understand the true needs under their behavior. Children are not adults, and being in a relationship where they are constantly being prepared for adulthood never allows them to feel the true joy of childhood.

Respecting children’s rights and freedoms is a revolutionary approach to parenting and education, and it is sure to change history. This is a parenting philosophy on the leading-edge of new thought, yet it is rooted in instinctual wisdom. The partnership parenting paradigm is gaining momentum. Our culture needs to realize that living with respect and freedom is the most responsible way to create a peaceful world.

The way our government, institutions, and media are telling us to parent is perpetuating the authoritarian paradigm which is distancing us from our children and robbing us of the joy that we are all meant to have by nature as parents. Take back your lives and the lives of your children! Take the freedom and joy that is waiting for you and begin to unlearn and relearn a better way! Children learn what they live and if we live in partnership with them, they grow living with this worldview and bring respect, kindness, and peace to the world. Freedom is waiting for you and your children in ways that you may have never considered before.

Join the Evolution Revolution!


Michael here:

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It truly was a great event. Many of the guests were deep in thought, considering the past and the future with their kids and ended with a rousing finish. In the next few days we will recap some of the other speeches from the event and share the message they brought.

Unschooling, children's rights, and freedom in general is an idea whose time has arrived.

I have just been confirmed as a speaker at Anarchapulco 2019!!!

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I just spoke during this year's conference and I was incredibly excited and grateful for the opportunity. I shared my story of how we brought three unschooling advocates into China to share with 40+ guests how to unschool their children. If I can do it there, then you can do it anywhere!

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Going to Anarchapulco in 2018 was the best decision I have ever made. It catapulted me from someone who wanted to make a difference to someone who actually IS.

If you're liberty-minded and want to see a better world, I can think of no better place to become activated and start taking the actions needed to make that dream into a REALITY.

If you're in the American Southwest, you can enjoy a similar event I'm organizing called Anarchizona

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-Michael McGillicuddy

Acapulco, Mexico

Images taken from Dayna Martin's website and Facebook page