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    WWW: Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason

    January 22, 2014 by Brandy Vencel
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    Parents and Children
    by Charlotte Mason

    Obedience in the first year, and all the virtues of the good life as the years go on; every year with its own definite work to show in the training of character. Is Edward a selfish child when his fifth birthday comes? The fact is noted in his parents’ year-book, with the resolve that by his sixth birthday he shall, please God, be a generous child. Here, the reader who has not realised that to exercise discipline is one of the chief functions of parenthood, smiles and talks about ‘human nature’ with all the air of an unanswerable argument. {Vol. 2, p. 65}

    [E]very quality has its defect, every defect has its quality. Examine your child; he has qualities, he is generous; see to it that the lovable little fellow, who would give away his soul, is not also rash, impetuous, self-willed, passionate, ‘nobody’s enemy but his own.’ It rests with parents to make low the high places and exalt the valleys, to make straight paths for the feet of their little son. {Vol. 2, p. 67-68}

    These are excerpts from the reading that my friends and I discussed late last night. I’ve really been mulling over these parts.

    One thought I’ve had has been that some children are more obvious than others. Some children are loud or gregarious, or they simply wear their flaws on their sleeve — whatever it may be, when I sat down to put this in action — to “examine my child” — I made it through a couple children, began struggling with my assessment of one of them, became distracted, and forgot about the whole process until our discussion last night.

    The thing is, I don’t want our home to be one in which the squeaky wheel gets all of the grease, as the saying goes. In fact, a friend of mine once told me to be extra careful to watch out for the quiet ones, the ones who fly under the radar. They often don’t receive the discipline and instruction that they need, and they suffer for it in adulthood.

    When you have one child who requires a lot more time and energy than the rest of the children, it is easy to leave the others to themselves. They don’t seem “so bad” by comparison, and generally they are “good kids.” But truly it is sad to think that I am not being deliberate in my instruction of all of my children.

    So, I’ve resolved myself to, once again, make a list, take an inventory, and be purposeful about another year of mothering.

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    12 Comments

  • Reply Michele January 25, 2014 at 1:47 am

    I have two with some issues, perhaps adoption issues, perhaps not, that are so extreme that the other 6 children definitely fly under the radar more than they should. And one is definitely showing the effects of me being less intentional that I ought. I cannot seem to balance the needs of the 2 very difficult ones with the rest of the family, and we find that it overshadows everything. It changes the entire atmosphere of the home. I feel I am needing to be intentionally joyful. And picking one trait to develop in each child feels so much more doable than hitting everything at once. Good thoughts.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 29, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      I am far from an expert, but I do think there are times when we really *should* oil squeaky wheels, and the other children have to understand that. I always think of when my children had to understand that their father was sick and I had to take care of him, to the point where they had to be cared for by someone else for a time.

      My fear for myself is that it is easy for THAT to become the habit — for oiling the squeaky wheel to be the way that I “do business” and that reminds me too much of living in a state of crisis, another habit I don’t want to have, if I can help it. πŸ™‚

      In my opinion, there is a time to deal with our more needy children, but then there is also a time to come back and remember our “easier” children, too. Because I have learned easy does not mean there is no sin there. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Cindy Rollins January 25, 2014 at 1:12 am

    I find this a bit discouraging because I see that my children could have used a more purposeful mother in some ways. The whole idea of habit just overwhelmed me when I was in the worst of the trenches. Of course, I still have Alex and Andrew. I need to be more purposeful with them.

    • Reply Carol January 29, 2014 at 1:51 am

      Cindy, I’ve felt the same way too at times. The early days of babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, pregnancies, miscarriages, lack of sleep, anaemia and all the other things left me with not a lot of energy for getting onto the habit side of things. But you do what you can at the time and trust that God’s grace will cover some of the gaps. And yes, we’ve still got the younger ones!

  • Reply Brandy Vencel January 23, 2014 at 4:35 am

    I forgot to say that I love how Carol put it — judging by character rather than demeanor.

  • Reply Brandy Vencel January 23, 2014 at 4:34 am

    Funny, Mystie…I almost wrote about festina lente in this post! I was trying to keep it on the short side.

    One of the things we talked about last night was *how* to actually do this, but I got to thinking that there is something in just choosing your target. Let’s say that so-and-so says mean things sometimes. Just knowing that that is the thing we are working on changes my game, I think. What I mean is, I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity to squelch that, whereas my normal approach might let a few things slide. And I can start to pray for that one area instead of all over the place, which is my usual approach. πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Mystie January 23, 2014 at 4:21 am

    The idea of choosing *one* vice to turn to virtue per year per child is something I hadn’t ever thought to do. I tend to default to more of a “whack a mole” approach. But that would be a way to festina lente, would it not?

  • Reply Beth Starr January 23, 2014 at 3:13 am

    So true! I’ve been trying to work on this, but many times I slip.

  • Reply Lisa A January 23, 2014 at 2:41 am

    We have a couple of those quiet ones here. My problem is that I have such a hard time being deliberate about forming habits. I just sort of fly by the seat of my pants must of the time. I really would like to be more purposeful about it, but I’m not sure I could stick it out for the long haul…
    I guess I have to though, don’t I? Habits will form whether I like it or not, and it’s certainly better to try and choose those that I want and reject those that I don’t want rather than to let them form willy-nilly.
    The mother who takes pain gets those smooth and easy days, but I’m starting to realize that the smooth and easy part is not an immediate reward for my efforts. I’ll have to take those pains and be patient while I wait to see the fruit….

  • Reply dawn January 23, 2014 at 2:04 am

    Oh, gracious. “[E]very quality has its defect, every defect has its quality” is insightful. Hits hard. As does all this post. My squeaky wheels do get a lot of grease, but my quiet one is starting to show colors of past neglect.

  • Reply Catie January 23, 2014 at 1:36 am

    This is an encouraging post for a mom of three wee ones. πŸ™‚ Just making sure to be mindful and like you said, not just oiling the squeaky wheel.

  • Reply Carol January 22, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    My ‘in your face’ type children have been easier to discipline – not at the time, mind you. It can get a little wearisome!! But you always know what’s going on because it’s so blatantly obvious.
    Quiet doesn’t necessarily equate with being good and its easy to make the error of judging by their demeanour as opposed to their character.

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