I have been re-reading Charlotte Mason’s book Home Education (Vol. 1 in the Original Homeschooling Series) and thinking about her comment “that mothers owe their children a thinking love…” when she quotes Pestalozzi in the questions a mother needs to ponder about her child:
“The mother is qualified…by the Creator Himself, to become the principal agent in the development of her child; … and what is demanded of her is––a thinking love … God has given to the child all the faculties of our nature, but the grand point remains undecided––how shall this heart, this head, these hands be employed? to whose service shall they be dedicated? A question the answer to which involves a futurity of happiness or misery to a life so dear to thee.” (pg. 2, emphasis mine)
She continues on explaining a bit more of her educational philosophy of “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life” by discussing how important it is that we as parents teach our children correct habits for life through our “strenuous incessant efforts…to producing a…human being at his best.” (pg. 5) She uses the phrase “at his best” several times throughout the next few pages.
If we as mothers are going to teach this child’s heart, his mind, his hands, and direct his spirituality, HOW are we going to do so?
The answer is simple – by giving him what he needs, including boundaries (or laws) if you will.
One step, of course, is the habit training that starts as soon as a child is up and moving, learning about the world around him. This training is not just about teaching good personal grooming habits, but includes learning to work, to get along with others of all ages, learning to think, to be helpful, and to contribute to society. If we want our children to be at their best, it is something that is going to require some serious thought and prayer – and a lot of hard work.
Reflecting on this concept, I kept going back to Miss Mason’s thoughts in the Preface to the Home Education series when she says:
“As a stream can rise no higher than its source, so it is probable that no educational effort can rise above the whole scheme of thought which gives it birth; and perhaps this is the reason of all the fallings from us, failures, and disappointments that mark our educational records…”
While she was referring to a philosophy of education, I couldn’t help but think of the correlation of a philosophy of parenting as well. Re-read this statement with the word “parental” replacing the word “educational”:
“As a stream can rise no higher than its source, so it is probable that no [parental] effort can rise above the whole scheme of thought which gives it birth; and perhaps this is the reason of all the fallings from us, failures, and disappointments that mark our [parental] records…”
The proof is in our society: many parents have abdicated that training and guiding role for education, character development, and spirituality for others to take care of, and it is reflected in the dismal statistics of poverty, crimes, hatred, and broken homes. No one can take the place of “parental thinking love.” Miss Mason knew this and she worked hard to empower families – mothers in particular – with the practical hows, with the staying power of grand and glorious ideas of WHY behind them.
For more reading on A Thinking Love, download Sonya Shafer’s free ebook here.