This is the fourth post in the series PICTURES FOR PARENTS - "The Power of Sunshine and Showers - Parents Need Self Confidence."
Once again Charlotte Mason has triggered the picture and much of the sentiment of this post.
"Self Confidence.... Parents should trust themselves more. .. The mere...fact of the parental relationship and of that authority which belongs to it, by right and by nature, acts upon the children as do sunshine and showers on a seed in good soil." SCHOOL EDUCATION :Charlotte Mason p 29.
"If a parent's goal is to raise his or her children into responsible adults-not just to make kids happy-it's essential to have a plan. But many moms and dads find themselves making it up as they go along, with little consistency or purpose." http://www.cbn.com/family/parenting/Burns_ConfidentParenting.aspx
"The mother [or father] often enough looses her hold over her children because they detect in the tone of her voice that she does not expect them to obey her...she doesn't think enough of her position; has not sufficient confidence in her own authority." HOME EDUCATION;Charlotte Mason p 162 - 163.
If a small seed is planted in good soil and given sunshine and rain, most people would agree that it will grow into a healthy plant. In fact most people would be confident in this fact.
Sadly many people today do not hold this same confidence in the role of parents. Many parents themselves don't know who they are, are not clear on what they are meant to do, let alone how to do it. This problem begins with a doubt in the position that parents have, and the authority that goes with that role. This confused picture of authority is not restricted to parenting alone, but is effecting many areas of our society today.
The media certainly has not helped parents in this area, with its disconnected 'parent help' articles and information, which may give a momentary idea, but miss the starting, essential ingredient and belief that parents need - PARENTS HAVE AUTHORITY - They are authorised to parent, they have a position, a function, which they have not earned through their own personal abilities, but have been given. Their authority is in their 'office' (just as it is for Queen Elizabeth), not in them personally as people. If we view parental authority as something that comes from personal skills, we move into disastrous territory where parenting is based on our own opinions and inconsistencies alone. If you know the history of the kings and queens of any nation, you will recognise this fact as true, with some disastrous royal reigns due to autocratic or self preoccupied rulers.
In her book A Philosophy of Education, Charlotte Mason discusses the confused mindset of some, that authority brings tyranny, resulting in children living like slaves. Holding the opposite view, she says that without authority freedom can not exist. She describes the 'behaviour' of authority as neither "harsh nor indulgent", it is gentle and fully approachable on issues that are unimportant, but unalterable on matters of real importance which are fixed and permanent. These include things such as, children must eat healthy food, be respectful, do the jobs that are theirs.
Charlotte agrees that parents can be wrong, and in such cases must apologies to their children. Parents must know when to take advice, knowing their role exists for the good of their children. We need a "quick and tender open-minded sympathy which enables us to see their side of every question as well as our own." School Education: Charlotte Mason p18. These, says Charlotte, are qualities which come from authority.
This is a picture of ordered life and ordered freedom.
"It is necessary that we should all follow an ordered course, and children, even infant children, must begin in the way in which they will have to go on." A Philosophy of Education : Charlotte Mason p 70.
Both parents and children are working towards the same goal - of children growing up, maturing, becoming adults and gaining independence.
But there's another interesting facet - authority is also in-built into children. It is only as parents make opportunities for children to "free-play" with their authority, that they will be properly prepared for adult life and its responsibilities.
SO much to think about here, and draw out into personal application!
This is why I am working at putting together a business where I can meet with parents one-on-one to discuss topics such as this, and assist parents to think through how it applies to their family, helping plan strategies to action it at home.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ You don't need to 'put on a face' of authority. Read through this post or the 3 beginning quotes, each day for a week, to help change your mindset of who you are as a parent.