I’m pretty certain I’ll never completely settle on a parenting philosophy. I am my own living proof. I’ve read from opposite ends of the spectrum and they all seem to have valid points, valid reasons for understanding the world the way they do. I’ll wade in with the tide, listen attentively to new theories, read new books, and be more influenced than I’d like to think I am by the cultural trends in parenting.
I’ll also often default to my natural unhealthy tendencies when the kids are fighting again, over something goofy, or when someone is excessively sharp with another, or trying to bug another… No matter how much reading, how much persuasion or reasoning, I don’t always learn the lessons I need to learn. Being harsh teaches harshness, being gentle teaches gentleness. Somedays it feels that I’ll never totally learn what I need to learn. Curiously, I’ve felt that way about my kiddos some days.
But what I used to think they most needed to learn no longer seems most important, nor does it seem the most difficult to grasp. It isn’t book-related learning, or knowledge-based learning, or stuff that can be tested in a multiple choice exam. When you spend most of your time with your children, you realize that what they most need to learn is character. And, aiy, this is the least exciting subject for mom to teach!
So when does an education begin? The moment they exit the womb…and the lessons continue… Learning to share, thinking of the other person first, being honest even when there’s consequence, showing gentleness even when frustrated, taking care to listen when you’re being spoken to…these set the foundation for the little heart to take in all that knowledge-based stuff to use it for fulfilling purposes. Character training enables those little ones to relate to each other, to know how to build friendships, maintain friendships, maybe one day have healthy marriages and children of their own. Character training teaches them to work hard, to organize and multi-task, to be prompt and neat, pursue things fearlessly with independence and initiative.
So a real education doesn’t begin at the tender age of five, the preschool age of four, or the official first grade. A real education begins with a parent who loves her child enough to imprint all the meaningful wisdom she’s learned in life.
“Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education”. Charlotte Mason