Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

The importance of teaching civil disobedience to our children

Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is a symbolic or ritualistic violation of the law, rather than a rejection of the system as a whole.


I don’t want my kids to be delinquents. I don’t want them get in trouble for stupid things all the time. I want them to be polite and kind and well mannered.

I also don’t want them to be automatons who blindly follow authority. I want them to think about the rules they are being asked to follow and I want them to question rules that don’t make sense.

I want them to know that it’s OK to break rules if it’s done with purpose. General lawlessness is not a good thing. Deliberately flouting an unreasonable /unjust rule is. Just be prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions.

Most of their civil disobedience centers around school. If any place is the β€œLand of Rules That Make No Sense”, it’s school.

The school dress code doesn’t allow for long hair on boys which my sons hate. So they grow their hair out until they get called out for it at school.

When it rains, they have to have indoor recess in tiny rooms below the gym. They have to sit quietly and play board games or watch movies. Nice recess, right? So, sometimes, they’ll sneak in cars or small balls or other little toys to break the monotony.

A few weeks ago, we had the school Halloween Party and the list of rules for costumes was pretty draconian. My daughter was most upset by the no flip-flops rule so she and I both wore flip-flops to the party.

It might be a stretch to call these tiny acts of rebellion civil disobedience. But my kids do them with a degree of seriousness and intent that makes it count in my mind.