So, I told you here that I would try to share a bit with you about my summer reading. I told you about Mere Motherhood already. Today, I'd love to tell you a bit about Parents and Children.
Parents and Children is Charlotte Mason's second volume. I picked it up this summer because it was one of the remaining two hold-outs of her six-volume series that I had not read yet. (Volume 5, Formation of Character, is now the last hold-out. Hopefully sometime in the next year I'll be able to get to that one, so that I can say that I've read them all. J I started reading the Volumes in 2011, I think. Take heart, dear Mama feeling intimidated by those six volumes. Slow and steady wins the race!) It is really a series of stand-alone essays, each somewhat distinct from the others. That said, there is still a definite theme that runs through all of them and a 'big picture' idea that I am taking away.
What is that idea, you may ask? Very simply this: Parental responsibility is to provide the child with nourishing, vital, ideas and train him in good habits – and to do this in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. That last bit is so key. We have the responsibility to plant the seeds, to keep the soil well-watered, to nurture the plants along – but we can't make them grow. Ultimately, it is the grace of God poured out over the hearts of our children that will bring the growth. Charlotte Mason puts it this way:
"The object of lessons should be in the main, twofold: to train a child in certain mental habits, as attention, accuracy, promptness, etc. and to nourish him with ideas which may bear fruit in his life…
Every habit has its beginning. The beginning is the idea which comes with a stir and takes possession of us….
…the fact that God the Holy Spirit is Himself the Supreme Educator dealing with each of us severally in the things we call sacred and those we call secular. We lay ourselves open to the spiritual impact of ideas, whether these be conveyed by the printed page, the human voice, or whether they reach us without visible sign." (p.229-230)
In Mere Motherhood, Cindy Rollins expressed a very similar idea this way:
"You can't fight your children into the Kingdom. You can pray for them, and you can tell them stories, and you can love them." (p.130)
In so doing, Charlotte Mason tells in at the closing of her book, we do much to advance the Kingdom of Christ.