Sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.
As Hannah gets closer to her fifth birthday, I have started to feel that I need to be more careful what I say about her on my blog and even to friends – it seems disloyal and unloving to make much of someone’s failings and faults when they get beyond the funny baby stage. There are many things I appreciate and marvel at about Hannah: her willingness to help, her oddly insightful way of looking at things, her unreal ability to memorize anything, and her thoughtfulness about spiritual things, plus many more. However, at her age the faults and problems seem to be growing more difficult to handle and so I find myself constantly thinking of ways to help her grow stronger in character and replace bad habits with good ones. To be honest, I find parenting to be very difficult at times and a good impetus to prayer since I often have no idea what I’m doing!
Because I’m struggling to find effective ways to deal with a few habits with Hannah, I really appreciated the emphasis in Charlotte Mason’s second book Parents and Children: The Role of the Parent in the Education of the Child. This book focuses less on general education methods and more on how parents can prepare their children for the classroom and really life in all its aspects by taking an active role in fostering good character in the child. Mason points out that even if you give your child a few good habits of character, you will help him go farther spiritually, mentally, and socially than he would otherwise be able. I like that her emphasis is not on drilling the child on outward compliance, but on really working with him on the state of his heart and modeling dependence on God as you do so.
I did find some areas of disagreement with Mason’s views, but those areas, although important from a theological standpoint, didn’t mitigate her broader points about parenting and education that form the lion’s share of the material in the book.
Overall, I would recommend Parents and Children, especially if you’ve wondered about the practical aspects of habits and character training in your young children.
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