let your gentlessness be known, even to your children

True confessional: I have been the tiger 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…(& now that I’m updating this post after fifteen years, it’s still true, the hardest thing I continue to learn: gentleness).



Mom upset with her daughter

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.

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 the shame and guilt stratosphere.



Rachel angry with Zachary

Catherine Levinson also added: “They’ll remember your emotion, but they won’t remember why”.

Aiy, great!

This compels guilt.

Guilt-producing, shame-encouraging fodder for thought.

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.



Two boys fighting over their teddy bear

If you feel overwhelmed because you’re hoping…

  • the kids will finally speak with diplomacy, respect, and consideration,
  • that they will never lose their marbles,
  • that they’ll never demand what they want,
  • that they’ll never yell at each other,
  • that they’ll never yell at you,
  • that they will always share with their brother,
  • that they’ll be polite in public,
  • that they’ll never pull their sister’s hair,
  • that they’ll never pummel their brother in the church parking lot,
  • that they’ll never call each other names,
  • 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 had human children.

They have a childhood to learn ways that work, ways that respect, ways that benefit them & others.

But when we don’t maintain our gentleness with them, they’ll simply remember our overreaction.

Darn it.

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.

“Let your gentleness be known to all, mom, even to your children”.

Catherine Levinson

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