Habits and Child-Training
We are beginning our 3rd year of homeschooling. The more we dive in to the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education, the more grateful we are for the privilege to use this method as we humbly learn of its’ life-changing effects on our parenting as well. Afterall, Charlotte Mason would say that “Education is all of life.” And if that’s the truth, than training is education and education is training. They cannot be separated. While grace seems to be a popular theme in parenting (as often wrongly defined as “excusing” our children’s sin), we are learning the true essence of the meaning of grace, that it is an act of grace to diligently train our children…not so that we are guaranteed a certain outcome, but because they are made in the image of our Creator-God. If this is true, how can we not train them in the beautiful habits of obedience and gratitude and attention and respect and gentleness and neatness and kindness? Not doing so would cause them, to our own detriment, to go against the very nature of whom they were created by.
This month, we are humbly marching forward in the habits of Obedience and Gratitude – clinging to God’s abundant stores of grace and strength – as I, myself, learn these very things along with my precious little ones. Charlotte Mason helps us to understand more clearly the importance of training our children in obedience…
“The mother’s great stronghold is in the habit of obedience. If she begin by requiring that her children always obey her, why, they will always do so as a matter of course; but let them once get the thin end of the wedge in, let them discover that they can do otherwise than obey, and a woeful struggle begins, which commonly ends in the children doing that which is right in their own eyes.
This is the sort of thing which is fatal: The children are in the drawing room, and a caller is announced. ‘You must go upstairs now.’ ‘Oh, mother dear, do let us stay in the window-corner; we will be as quiet as mice!’ The mother is rather proud of her children’s pretty manners, and they stay. They are not quiet, of course; but that is the least of the evils; they have succeeded in doing as they chose and not as they were bid, and they will not put their necks under the yoke again without a struggle. It is in little matters that the mother is worsted. ‘Bedtime, Willie!’ ‘Oh, mamma, just let me finish this’; and the mother yields, forgetting that the case in point is of no consequence; the thing that matters is that the child should be daily confirming a habit of obedience by the unbroken repetition of acts of obedience. It is astonishing how clever the child is in finding ways of evading the spirit while he observes the letter. ‘Mary, come in.’ ‘Yes, mother’; but her mother calls four times before Mary comes. ‘Put away your bricks’; and the bricks are put away with slow reluctant fingers. ‘You must always wash your hands when you hear the first bell.’ The child obeys for that once, and no more.
To avoid these displays of willfulness (wilLESSnes), the mother will insist from the first on an obedience which is prompt, cheerful, and lasting–save for lapses of memory on the child’s part. Tardy, unwilling, occasional obedience is hardly worth the having; and it is greatly easier to give the child the habit of perfect obedience by never allowing him in anything else, than it is to obtain this mere formal obedience by a constant exercise of authority.
By-and-by, when he is old enough, take the child into confidence; let him know what a noble thing it is to be able to make himself do, in a minute, and brightly, the very thing he would rather not do. To secure this habit of obedience, the mother must exercise great self-restraint; she must never give a command which she does not intend to see carried out to the full. And she must not lay upon her children burdens, grievous to be borne, of command heaped upon command.”
May you go forth, with courage amidst a culture that seems to have lessened the importance of training our children in obedience, bringing glory to whom glory is due. May HE honor our most feeble efforts…