This is one piece of Scientology that I try to apply as best I can – and it’s a constantly-changing game as the kids get older – trying to preserve their own self-determinism. The quote above, from L. Ron Hubbard’s article in the Children course:
“A child has a right to his self-determinism. You say that if he is not restrained from pulling things down on himself, running into the road, etc., etc., he’ll be hurt. What are you as an adult doing to make that child live in rooms or an environment where he can be hurt? The fault is yours, not his, if he breaks things.
“The sweetness and love of a child is preserved only so long as he can exert his own self-determinism. You interrupt that and to a degree you interrupt his life.
“There are only two reasons why a child’s right to decide for himself has to be interrupted—the fragility and danger of his environment and you. For you work out on him the things that were done to you, regardless of what you think.” – L. Ron Hubbard
It’s something we’ve tried to solve in a lot of different ways. Overall, we’ve tried to provide as many environments as possible for the kids which allow them to explore and work with their world without us constantly shepherding them or saying, “DON’T TOUCH THAT” or “DON’T PLAY WITH THAT!”, etc. It’s one reason why we insist on living by the woods, as there’s almost nothing better than letting the kids just run around the woods, jump on trees, pretend stumps are Imperial Speeder Bikes, make forts, etc, etc.
We’ve tried to set up our house so that there’s a play room where the kids own basically everything in there, and can do whatever projects they want with minimal need for supervision. We also try to let them really own any of their belongings, so they can see the result when they don’t take care of them – i.e. when they broke it, they broke it – and that’s all there is to it. No punishment for breaking a toy – it’s theirs. But we don’t then up and get them a new one, as they broke it.
But it’s something that we’re constantly having to refine our approach to, as the kids grow up. I’m sure the way to approach the topic of parenting and self-determinism is massively different for a willful teenager than it is for a pair of toddlers. But the general approach remains the same – to try to foster and support the right of the kids to their own self-determinism.