True confessional: I have been the fierce mother. I have no time for unkindness from one child to the next. So you’d think I was an excellent example of gentleness.
But this is the hardest thing I am learning in my first four years of this homeschool lifestyle…how to be a gentle homeschool mom.
…(& now that I’m updating this post after fifteen years, it’s still true, the hardest thing I continue to learn: gentleness).
So how to be a gentle homeschool mom?
A Charlotte Mason advocate, Catherine Levinson, pushed home this very point at a homeschool conference I attended: let your gentleness be known to all, even to your children.
My ears perked; in fact, I was all ears.
How to be a gentle homeschool mom? This has been a question I had for years.
Upon hearing those words, my heart wanted to take a brisk walk out the back door, cause I knew the next ten minutes were going to propel me into a shame and guilt stratosphere.
Catherine Levinson also added: “They’ll remember your emotion, but they won’t remember why”.
This compels guilt.
They won’t remember why I was hot mad with them even if I was angry…
- that someone was hitting someone when they could have made a request instead of reacting,
- that someone was demanding something they wouldn’t consider sharing with their sibling,
- or that there were taco fixings plastered to the ceiling (I write that one for dramatic effect, it’s never happened…yet…)
But I’m sure you could fill in the blank to the reason for your most recent frustration with your kids. (I’m sure you’ve got a couple stories yourself).
Because you KNOW there is always gonna be stuff.
If you feel overwhelmed because you’re hoping…
- the kids will finally speak with diplomacy, respect, and consideration,
- each of the kids won’t lose their marbles,
- that they’ll never demand what they want,
- that they’ll never yell at each other,
- and they’ll never yell at you,
- that they will always share with their brother,
- and they’ll be polite in public,
- that they’ll never pull their sister’s hair,
- or that they’ll never pummel their brother in the church parking lot,
- that they’ll never call each other names,
- and even that they’ll never demand you do something, give them something, buy them something…
Well, I’ve got only got this to tell you…
You have human children.
But when we don’t maintain our gentleness with them, they’ll simply remember our overreaction.
I really didn’t need Catherine Levinson’s to guilt me. (Okay, she wasn’t speaking to do that!)
It comes naturally.
Like every time I put my hand on a hot burner because it’s burning hot: you know what I do? I immediately pull my hand off the burner.
Do you know what happens every time I get hot angry, am too harsh, trying to force home a point, ever-so-ungraciously?
I feel guilty.
And the guilt says, “Wrong way! Don’t do that. It isn’t the best way.“
Levinson concluded by admonishing, “discipline without anger. Create an ‘if, then’ chart that encourages non-emotional parenting“.
If my child steps over the line when she does…then I, as a parent, will do this…
And I know this is wise advice, but if I am honest and expect that that moment of frustration in me, when my child is rude to me, or hitting her brother, or you-fill-in-the-blank, occurs…and it always will...then I’ll be quick to default to creative correction rather than undue force.
Just as I strive to teach my children to be gentle and kind-hearted with one another, I, too, will strive to learn my most important lesson in this lifestyle, to be known for gentleness, even to my children.
Big Emotions Journal for the Homeschool Mom
Introducing the Homeschool Mama’s Toolbox, a set of resources designed to help homeschooling mothers deal with big emotions and specifically address their thoughts. Your brain and thoughts are important tools that need to be regularly sharpened, and the Toolbox is here to help you do just that.
Incorporating mindfulness practices into your homeschool is one of the most effective ways to separate yourself from your thoughts and be present. The Toolbox includes three questions from Dr. Amen, author of Change your Brain, Change your Life: What am I feeling? What is the thought behind my feeling? What is the story behind my thought? These are questions that you can practice regularly to get the most out of them.
The Toolbox also encourages a daily meditation practice to help you distance yourself from your thoughts and just be present. Guided meditations such as Guided Meditation on Controlling Negative Thoughts and Guided Meditation for Inner Peace & Calm can help you get started.
Additionally, the Toolbox offers a Thought Care Checklist to help you deal with challenging situations that may arise in your homeschool. By considering alternative perspectives, you can reframe your thoughts and deal with the situation in a more positive and constructive way.
With the Homeschool Mama’s Toolbox, you can learn to influence your thoughts and create a better reality for yourself and your family. Download the Toolbox today and start sharpening your tools!
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