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The Charlotte Mason Mother & the Child’s Will

I am nearing the end of Charlotte Mason’s amazing first volume, Home Education. It has taken me over a year and a half of slow, careful reading – with some good breaks. Her thoughts and words are not for our instant gratification society, and they need measured reading and mulling over. If your heart as a home educating mother is to give your children a whole education – and not just academics – then reading Charlotte Mason ought to be something you consider.

Today, while the children were having their rest time, I opened up to her final chapter, ‘The Will – Conscience – Divine Life’. In it, Miss Mason lays strongly the call upon the parent to cultivate the child’s will to goodness. A child, left to himself, will not push himself to higher ends. These words settled in home to me:

“Perhaps it is not too much to say, that ninety-nine out of a hundred lost lives lie at the door of parents who took no pains to deliver their children from sloth, from sensual appetites, from wilfulness, no pains to fortify them with the habits of a good life…” p.330

I always find with Charlotte Mason that her words just hit straight home. She doesn’t pull any punches and, because of the style of language, I have to read her words several times to really get what she is saying. This is so good though, because it just reinforces the heaviness of her meaning.
And what is she meaning here?



A Child’s Will and the Mother

Essentially, in summarising her first volume of education, Charlotte Mason lays the responsibility and weight of the child’s future in the parents hands, particularly the mother. Before we all run to the hills, she exhorts that “infinite grace and help from above attend every rightly directed effort in the training of the children…” (p.331)
This is fundamentally opposing to many parenting and educational philosophies today. I know this too well. Despite loving and embracing Miss Mason’s philosophy of education from when I began learning about homeschooling, I found myself lured away to ways of learning (and, therefore, parenting) that enabled me to step back and dispense of some of my responsibility. I was able to mask this stepping away with educational jargon, but for me personally, I know I was abdicating what I knew – deep down – were the “pains” a mother is called to work for and in her children.
A year’s journey later, humbled and more aware of God’s hand on our homeschool than ever, these words of Charlotte’s mean more to me than they possibly could have before. And I am very grateful for that. I am more convinced of a mother’s active role in her child’s education more than ever, especially the training of the child’s will.

The End in Mind

The heart of faithful mothering and educating children is reaching the child’s heart through deep, affectionate love, consistent working in the child for their good and growing in the child the knowledge of a higher goodness that has a call upon them. This comes best as good habits of character are instilled in the child. 
Character is an unpopular word today but we need people of character more than ever. Do men and women of character just happen to grow up that way? Common sense tells us no. Society tells us we need to leave the children alone so they can ‘find themselves’.
But, in the end, we know that there is Someone higher than ourselves. We know that a full, joy-filled life comes only from submitting to that Someone and His ways. As mothers, it is our sombre duty to tirelessly work toward that for our children.

Charlotte says,

“The Christian mother, whose highest desire is to train him [the child] for the Christian life. When he wakes to the consciousness of Whose he is and Whom he serves, she would have him ready for that service, with every faculty in training – a man of war from his youth; above all, with an effective will, to will and to do of His good pleasure.” p.323 

I am so thankful for this reminder in a time where mother’s are bombared with false paths and downright lies about the best way to raise children. We shouldn’t be afraid to teach our children what is right and wrong, what is good and wholesome, what is trustworthy, what is honourable, and what is best for another person. I deeply believe children never forget the faithful teaching of their mothers. Let us persevere in hope!

Have you read Charlotte Mason’s thoughts on the way of the will?

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2 responses to “The Charlotte Mason Mother & the Child’s Will”

  1. I haven't read Charlotte Mason, but I definitely agree that as mothers we have a sacred responsibility to bring our children up in faith. We can have such a profound effect on our children, and how we raise them is so important. Thank you for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party.

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  2. \”Sacred responsibility\” – YES! How I am learning that more and more…Thank you so much for a great link-up and for always commenting on my linked post, it means a lot!

    Like

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