Thursday, May 22, 2014


The forming or fashioning "of a child's brain depends on the habits which the parents permit or encourage;... the habits of the child produce the character of" a person, "because certain mental" habits "once set up," will "go on for ever unless they should be displaced by other habits. ... Ever day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend."  HOME EDUCATION : CHARLOTTE MASON. p 118.
Are there certain character traits that you hope your children will have locked in their nature once they become adults? These may not be evident in their life now, but like many parents, we hope somehow they will be picked up and established by the time they leave home!!
The Oxford Dictionary says, "A person's qualities, reputation, good repute, personal appearance, collective peculiarities, nature, style, the distinctive mental or moral qualities of an individual..."
Charlotte Mason has written extensively on the subject of Character, saying that each child has a particular, unique nature. They have tendencies and dispositions which make some character traits automatic, while others are foreign and therefore difficult to adopt and lock into one's developing Character. 
Charlotte says that parents make the greatest contribution towards how their children develop in their character and in how they 'turn out' in the end. 
The easiest place to start working on anything is at the beginning, when our children are very little, but regardless of age you can still begin work on their character now. It is never too late.
I completely agree that, "the habits of the child produce the character of the" person. It is our responsibility to recognise, "permit or encourage" the habits of our children.
If it is important to you that your child be honest, or hardworking, an independent thinker, reliable, a listener, humorous, a reader, articulate, tidy, perceptive, helpful, even tempered, compassionate, punctual, friendly, forthright, polite, motivated, a forward thinker, an inspirer, observant....., you have a role in building this into their Character. 
Every day you see your child practicing good, acceptable and not acceptable habits. These will continue to be practiced year after year and form their character, unless they are "displaced by other habits."
How do you change the habits a child practices?
 # "A baby falls, gets a bad bump, and cries piteously." An experienced mother doesn't make matters worse by talking about what's happened or lavish emotional 'sorries', 'it must have hurt', 'poor little busby'... Instead she "hastens to change their thoughts", by taking the baby to the window to watch the trees blowing, gives them their favourite toy, shows them through a picture book...., diverting the child's attention and gradually "the child pulls themselves up in the middle of a sob, though they are really badly hurt." This is exactly how an adult's will works in the many daily situations of life. "It is by force of will that a person can change their thoughts, transfer their attention from subject to another. ... this is enough to save... and to make" a person of character, "this power of making themselves think only of those things which they have beforehand decided that is good to think on." Home Education : Charlotte Mason. p 324.
What is happening here is that the baby or child is learning a self-compelling power, that they have a say in controlling how they react, what they will do and think.
Habits form Character.
# "Her thoughts are wandering" on to unhelpful things, "to the hindrance of her work; she pulls herself up, and deliberately fixes her attention on those incentives which have most power to make her work, the leisure and pleasure which follow" after hard work is completed, the responsibility that she has to "fulfil this task. Her thoughts run in the groove she wills them to run in, and work is no longer an effort." Home Education " Charlotte Mason. p 324.
Habits form Character.
Children can be taught this simple practice.
"Are you cross? Change your thoughts.
Are you tired of trying? Change your thoughts.
Are you craving for things you are not to have? Change your thoughts.
There is a power within you, your own will, which will enable you to turn your attention from thoughts that make you unhappy and wrong, to thoughts that make you happy and right. And this is the exceedingly simple way in which the will acts; this is the sole secret of the power over himself which the strong man wields - he can compel himself to think of what he chooses, and will not allow himself in thoughts that breed mischief." Home Education : Charlotte Mason. p 326.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Do you believe that as a parent you can contribute to changes in the habits of your child? Does all this seem daunting or does it ring true? More to come.

Friday, May 16, 2014


                                    Mom Thinking
This Qu is asked by every mother at least once in their lifetime, but it may be asked even more today as there are so many different ways people parent and it’s easy to find yourself lost in the sea of indecision.  To learn how to parent it’s a good habit to watch how other families live. The routines and difficulties are often similar but other families can live out different ways to handle them. Some examples will be encouraging and give you ideas to think about trying in your family.
All the ideas and quotes in this post come from Anne Ortlund's book Disciplines of the Home.
Every area of parenting whether it is how to discipline your child, how you get them to eat well, tidy up their mess, not answer back, or do the pooh in the toilet… starts at the same point – it begins with YOU.
1.   Anne Ortlund says, “The parenting thing isn’t so much ‘Do what I say’ as it is ‘Be what I am’ and ‘Do what I do’. Like it or not, what you are and do will speak so loudly they can’t hear what you say. They will become like you. Scary, isn’t it!” p 279.

I think this is fairly clear – we can have all the right rules and say all the right things, but in the end kids learn far more from who their parents are and what they do.
Then Anne goes on to give her first principle of what successful parenting means – BECOMING WHAT YOU SHOULD BE”
Whether there is one parent or two, Anne Ortlund says, become what you should be. “Give your children not only rules for living but your own lives as well...” p 280. They need to see what you are telling them to do and be like in action, right there in your life!
We can become mesmerized by all the wrong things our children are doing and worry if we are parenting in the right way BUT the key is to start with ourselves “becoming what you should be”. 
Off the top of your head, what does “becoming what you should be”, translate into for you right now, given the current situations at home in your family? How are you doing personally in these areas?
your temper
your anger
genuinely listening to family members
being tidy
being organised
getting to bed at a reasonable time
getting up at a reasonable time
sharing your possessions
eating a balanced/sensible diet
eating with the family at a table...
Anne’s second principle of what successful parenting means – STAYING CLOSE ENOUGH TO THE CHILD FOR IT TO RUB OFF”
She suggests we follow three points from Dr John Perkins who worked with troubled inner city families. These three points show how we are to relate to our children – being close enough to them so the good things rub off on them.
Perkins says, “There are three basic human needs, and all three ought to be met in the home." 
     A. Every human needs to be loved, to feel he belongs.”p 271. We must say it over and over, day after day, even when our child seems most obnoxious, you still need to be saying in a million way – I LOVE YOU.  “They must learn that your love for them isn’t based on their works and that your acceptance of them isn’t conditioned on their behavior.” p271.
 B.  “Every human needs his own space, a place which is no one else’s, and a sense of assurance that nobody’s going to take it away.” p 271. This is about letting your child develop their ‘territory’ – a room, their shelf, their garden… somewhere they can claim as their own.
C.  “Every human needs to be affirmed, to be considered significant.” 
p 271. You’re actually aiming at communicating, “I’m aware of you, and 
I like you..."
“To feel loved, to belong, to have a place, and to hear one’s dignity
and worth often affirmed – these are to the soul what food is to the
body. And as you provide these for your youngster, you’re confirming 
their dignity, their worth, and their projected place of value in 
tomorrow's world.” p272.
“These basic needs cannot be fulfilled by many of the parents today who divorce, work, travel, or who simply are too busy or too distracted – at the children’s lifestage when they’re most impressionable, fragile, and vulnerable. Unfortunately, the substitutes for meeting these three needs are everywhere: alcohol, drugs, and illicit sex. So misery abounds, abortions multiply, and prisons overflow.
However you can manage it, be there! Be available in your home for all the children-years. And deliberately seek to meet these three basic needs, by words and actions, as fully as you can.
But you’re saying, ’Look, I have to face the practical realities of living in this world. This seems too drastic to be taken totally seriously!’” p 273.
We just read that these are three basic human needs and they ought to be met in the home. “The kids…must hear loud and clear how loved and wanted they are in this world! What more powerful way can they learn this than for you to be saying by your very presence, ‘You’re wanted. I’m here for you. I like to be with you. I enjoy you. I delight in you! I’m available.’” p 273
“Every family experience determines a child’s adult character, the inner picture he’ll harbor of himself, how he sees others and feels about them, his concept of right and wrong, his capacity to establish warm, sustained relationships necessary to have a family of his own, his attitude toward authority and toward the Ultimate Authority in his life, and the way he attempts to make sense out of his existence. No human interaction has greater influence on his life than his family experience.” p 274 – Armand M Nicholi II, “The Fractured Family”. Christianity Today. May 25 1979.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS - Take time to think through Anne's two point on what successful parenting means. Pick up some ideas from families that function successfully as you watch other families live.