I have been trying for the last few months (with very limited success) to read a little bit every day. When I began this attempt, I put three books on my bedside table. I finished one and replaced it with Volume 1 of Charlotte Mason’s Home Schooling series. I have read this book before, but now that I have started the homeschool thing (even though this is just my practice year), I thought it would be a good idea to remind myself of what Miss Mason says. Her words are inspiring, convicting, and encouraging (for the most part- and that which is not, I just ignore). Here are a five points from Volume 1, Part 1, that particularly spoke to me in this reading:
1. “Father and mother have no greater delight than to watch the individuality of their child unfold as a flower unfolds.” p 4
It is true that one of the amazing things about parenting is to see how this little tiny baby becomes a person, with his or her own thoughts, ideas, interests and personality. In each of my children, I see a bit of myself, a bit of my husband, a bit of our brother and sisters and then a whole bunch of themselves. X-man is an interesting blend of serious thinker and crazy weird. My princess is very helpful- she will help me with whatever task I am doing; but she gets very easily overwhelmed if given a task to complete on her own. It is fascinating seeing my little Toddler Tornado become a little boy. I love hearing his thoughts. He is a very polite little guy- he often thanks me for what I get him without any prompting from me! He is very focused and determined when he has a goal (especially if that goal involves food in some way), but when I use a firm voice and tell him “No,” he responds with an easy-going “Ok, Mommy.”
2. “The parents’ chief care is, that that which they supply shall be wholesome and nourishing, whether in the way of picture-books, lessons, playmates, bread and milk, or mother’s love.” p 5
It is a good reminder that everything I set before my precious children should nourish them and help them to grow into the people God wants them to be, whether spiritually, mentally, socially, or physically. She exhorts parents to work to maintain a healthy environment for our children.
3. “…a code of education in the Gospels, expressly laid down by Christ…. the chief thing required of grown-up people is that they should do no sort of injury to the children: Take heed that ye OFFEND not- DESPISE not- HINDER not- one of these little ones.” p 12
Miss Mason goes on to explain that parents offend children by causing a stumbling block for them as they grow by not upholding the law laid down by the Lord or by disregarding their physical or intellectual health. Parents despise the children by undervaluing them or by allowing them free rein in their sinful behavior. And parents are not to do anything that will hinder their relationship with the Almighty God.
These principles, based on this biblical “code of education”, is the foundation for educating and raising children. I want to act out of these principles in training and schooling and discipling my children. I need to pray for God’s enabling, for I know too well how weak I am. How easily I go from noble minded to completely selfish. Thanks be to God in whom we have victory over our human nature!
4. A child’s life can “become an endless struggle to get his own way,” unless the child understands “that his parents are law-compelled as well as he, that they simply cannot allow him to do the things which have been forbidden…” p 15
This is a principle that we have put into practice since our first was ready to receive discipline. When I became pregnant for the first time, our church held a class for young parents going through the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart. This book was very formative in our discipline strategy. We saw the wisdom in not merely disciplining to train the behavior, but going deeper and getting behind the behavior to shepherd the child’s heart so as to lead the child to Christ and form the child’s character.
In thinking through all of these things, I confronted in my heart the question, “What right do I have to discipline my children in any way, anyway?” It came down to the fact that I must obey the Scriptures, as do my children. We must all obey our Creator. So in nearly every situation which requires any disciplinary action, I talk through these principles with my child.
Our process goes like this (the actual discipline is before or somewhere in this list, depending on the form it takes)-
a. I ask the child why he is receiving discipline, to make sure he or she knows exactly which behavior was unacceptable.
b. We review the verse in the Bible that applies to this situation. It is often Ephesians 6:1, “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” This is the first verse that my children memorize and even my 2 year old has it memorized. (3 down, 1 to go!) The Child Training Bible that my dear friend developed is an invaluable resource in this step.
c. We review a simple paraphrase of the verses Proverbs 3:12 and 13:24: “Parents discipline the son they love.” (I use “daughter” or “child” when going through this process with K.) I explain that I have to obey the Bible, just like the child does. We are both under the authority of the Scriptures. I also take this moment to remind them that I must do this because I love them with all of my heart.
d. We pray and hug and discuss what would be a better choice or action.
e. We go together to either make things right with an offended sibling (or other person) and/or to practice the action of making the right choice in the situation.
I was encouraged by this exhortation by Charlotte Mason- that parents must be law-compelled. And I agree with the sentiment whole-heartedly. She also encourages parents to deal with children’s faults from the first offense- their faults are serious, not cute.
5. “Do not let the children pass a day without distinct efforts, intellectual, moral, volitional; let them brace themselves to understand; let them compel themselves to do and to bear; and let them do right at the sacrifice of ease and pleasure: and this for many higher reasons, but, in the first and lowest place, that the mere physical organ of mind and will may grow vigorous with work.” p22
We must all- adults and children alike- exercise our bodies and minds and will daily if we wish our bodies and minds and will to grow strong.