Today, I downloaded and read A Thinking Love with Charlotte Mason by Sonya Shafer. Very interesting read. I have been interested in Charlotte Mason’s schooling techniques but haven’t found the time to read her book(s) yet. This download was about 65 pages of reading, so it was fairly short. Sonya Shafer uses Charlotte Mason’s idea of a “thinking love” to help us consider how we’re raising our children.
One of the first things she talks about is giving in to make our children happy 100% of the time and how it will negatively affect them. Now, I don’t give in to my girls 100% of the time, but I know I give in when I don’t feel like listening to them whine or don’t feel like exerting the energy to explain to them why things must be done and why a certain way. It was interesting to read ways to enforce the rules, so that children understand rules and that they are to be followed all of the time, not just when we feel like enforcing them.
I sometimes tell my husband we should pick our battles with the girls. Maybe that’s the wrong way to be saying it. I suppose it’s not right to make up a rule but only follow it when I’m willing to. What message is that sending to the kids? That they have rules but only when we’re in the mood to enforce them? It might seem like a pain to keep the rules in place all of the time and sometimes I feel like a dictator when I’m pushing a rule on them, but if the rule is logical and correct it must be done. Otherwise, why bother making any rules at all? It sends mixed messages.
This is going to be tough for me. I believe kids need rules. I am a firm believer in rules and discipline for failure to follow those rules. I like the idea of kids “pulling their own weight” around the house (to whatever degree they can, based on age and ability obviously). I entertain the idea of kids to “be seen and not heard” at the dinner table or in front of other adults. BUT, I lack the discipline myself to enforce these great ideas all the time.
When our friend came for dinner on Saturday night, I was utterly embarrassed by the way the girls acted at the table. We normally have dinner with no issues, other than the occasional burp (followed by a giggle and an “excuse me”) or a spilled glass of milk. Saturday was very out of the ordinary – Lily refused to eat, Iris kept acting silly, and I was quickly losing my patience. I tried to keep it under control, so Arthur and his friend could chat while they ate. I was losing that battle, though, and Arthur had to step in to remove Lily from the table and discipline Iris for acting up. Iris completely lost it and through a huge fit in front of our guest before she was sent up to her room. Lily never did fully eat, but I was not about to let her sit there and act up. We removed her from the table and she didn’t finish her meal. I felt like she had won, slightly….until I realized that later in the night or the next morning she’d be very hungry and understand (hopefully) why she needs to eat dinner when it’s dinner time. I don’t know that she ever did, but I was so embarrassed. We are constantly raving to our friends about our girls’ great eating habits and how we can take them anywhere and whatnot, but they acted as though they had never eaten dinner with people before! It was a circus and it was out of control.
This week’s dinners are back to normal, with no issues. I just wish it could have been that way when we had company.
I read something in the book today that interested me:
When Stevie’s great-grandfather was a child, the prevailing philosophy was Children should pull their weight.
When Stevie’s grandfather was a child, the popular maxim was Children should be seen and not heard.
When Stevie’s father was a child, the attitude of the era was Don’t stifle your child’s self-expression.
When Stevie was a child, the cry of the day was Do all you can to give your child self-esteem.
That was pretty right on as far as what I’ve read or heard about the past decades compared to more recent ones. We are “a nation of whiners” just like Mayor Daley said last week. 🙂 I’m not a huge Daley fan, but he was pretty spot on with that one! We give in to everything nowadays, and we expect nothing but happiness. We don’t discipline all the time because the line of thought is now to make your child happy and not to put them down by making them feel bad about their actions. Shoot, if I was out of line as a child my father was VERY ready to put me in my place. AND I’M SOOOO THANKFUL FOR THAT NOW! I can’t imagine what my values would be if I wasn’t shown at a young age how to act properly and to show respect and that I don’t deserve anything but rather I need to earn it.
I just wonder what the thinking will be in 20 years from now. Heaven help our grandchildren!