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Thinking Like Charlotte Thursday

Charlotte's Thought: Parents are Inspirers

Let's face it: we all have control issues. Our modern world enables us in our belief that we are gods that have a whole lot of say on how things turn out. We're devastated when things don't go as planned and when people don't do what we want them to do because (plot twist) the reality is we are not in control at all. As parents, we can fall under the spell that we control the formation of our children. They are going to go to this school so they can get into this college. They are going to go this college so they can make these connections and pursue that career. They are going to have these types of friends. Parents enroll their children in all the "right" activities so they will have the "right" set-up and develop into some type of person: an athlete, an academic, a doctor, a scientist. We hear stories time and again of parents placing their failed hopes and dreams onto their children and transferring enormous pressure on the child, either a young child or even an adult child, to realize those hopes and dreams.

This approach is in violation of several of Charlotte Mason's principles. Mason's response, I believe, would be that's it not the role of the parent to control and dictate outcomes for the child, as if this is even a possibility. Instead, parents are to inspire their children by providing a rich atmosphere; laying before the child a feast. The child partakes of this feast, and with the Holy Spirit's constant access to the child's Spirit, His will for the child is at work. Mason writes this begins in infanthood:

"We may lay the physical basis for memory: while the wide-eyed babe stretches his little person with aimless kickings on the rug, he is receiving unconsciously those first impressions which form the earliest memories; and we can order those memories for him: we can see that the earliest sights he sees are sights of order, neatness, beauty; that the sounds his ear drinks in are musical and soft, tender and joyous; that the baby's nostrils sniff only delicate purity and sweetness. These memories remain through life, engraved on the unthinking brain. As we shall see later, memories have a certain power of accretion--where there are some, others of a like kind gather, and all the life is ordered on the lines of these first pure and tender memories." ~Parents and Children, pgs 26-27

Fear not, for there are some things we the parents can influence. But it's certainly not outcomes. Mason cites Dr. Maudsley's Physiology of Mind and what is the parent's role in the development of the child's person and their future.

  • His definite ideas upon particular subjects, as, for example, his relations with other people.

  • His habits, of neatness or disorder, of punctuality, of moderation.

  • His general modes of thought, as affected by altruism or egoism.

  • His consequent modes of feeling and action.

  • His objects of thought--the small affairs of daily life, the natural world, the operations or productions of the human mind, the ways of God with men.

  • His distinguishing talent--music, eloquence, invention.

  • His disposition or tone of character, as it shows itself in and affects his family and other close relations in life -- reserved or frank, morose or genial, melancholy or cheerful, cowardly or brave. ~Parents and Children, pg 27-28

Photo Credit: Lubomirkin

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