As we continue with the Parents Are Peacemakers series, we come to the first need in the home – leadership. We read that “growing up needs bringing up” and the differences between “well-brought up” and “badly brought up”. Important distinctions! It is heartbreaking to read the post-war description of the roles of mother and father. But the honesty about human nature is what I appreciate so much here – something we often forget about and therefore expect perfection from our children. Something Charlotte Mason teaches us about repeatedly.
Enjoy this next installment of Parents Are Peacemakers and let me know your favorite parts!
- THE FIRST NEED: LEADERSHIP.
Synopsis: (1) “It’s human nature.”
(2) Inheritance (Discussion).
(3) Childhood (Discussion).
(4) Growing up.
(5) Leadership at home.
(6) “Ought” and “must,” obedience (Questions).
- “Oh well, that’s human nature. You won’t alter that.” It is usually said when someone has got into trouble of some sort, or when he has given way to some weakness. Is it true? Can human nature be altered? What is human nature?
Desires, emotions, appetites:—we all share these. Individual powers and disposition:—these come from inheritance. Things come down from father to son, we inherit them, a good singing voice, a fiery temper, blue eyes.
- Get instances of things inherited. Discussion.
National characteristics are inherited too, making an Englishman differ from a Frenchman, a Spaniard from a Russian. What we inherit accounts largely for our individual differences, that and our very varying circumstances (our “environment”) as well as things happening round us. We all take each other very much for granted but what a wonderful and mysterious thing is every human person. There are all kinds of possibilities and powers hidden behind the well-known faces of our family—talents bottled up, feelings hidden, thoughts unexpressed, wishes ready to bubble out unexpectedly. We think we know each other only too well—Jim’s temper and his charming smile, Betty’s generosity and her fibs, Father’s slow ways, his wonderful memory, Mother’s sharp tongue, her quick, comforting fingers. How often we get surprises! Young people cannot think that older ones were ever young, older people forget what it was like to be young.
- Can you remember a five-year-old feeling? A twelve-year-old? A fifteen-year-old? Can you remember the tangled up feeling of all your wants going in different directions—your furious angers and rude words just when you had decided to be good? Your unkindness when you really loved so much? Telling a story because you were frightened (you meant to tell the truth)? Taking Tom’s toy without asking him, breaking it, hiding the bits and being sorry?
Discussion of children’s muddled ideas and keen wishes, instances.
- Think back, watch the family faces round you and remember what it is like to have this strong human nature (all its wants and feelings and ignorances and inheritances) all in a tangle, a muddle, good impulses and bad on top of each other, fighting with each other. Yes, parents must be the peace-makers for each one of the family while they are growing up. They must bring up all the parts of this strong, unruly human individual, into an ordered, purposeful, clear-sighted person, into a person at peace in himself. Up-bringing is the right word. Growing up needs bringing up. We talk of “well brought up” and “badly brought up” people. The badly brought up ones have not been brought up at all, they have been left down, left in a muddle, left to get on with their growing best way they can. Human nature has been too strong. Many of them never have grown up, they behave childishly, long after they have ceased to be children. Can you think of anyone like that, over eighteen? Instances.
- Every person growing up needs one thing that Fathers and Mothers can best give them and they must give it together. They need wise, firm, loving leadership. Do you find that young people of the present day are selfish, lack standards? If so, it is because their parents never succeeded in giving them a wise lead and a firm rule while they were growing up. “Lack of discipline.” Yes perhaps, but it is better expressed as lack of good leadership. Those who follow a leader accept discipline, correction, punishment. Are you leaders at home or do you let things be? Is it “Oh, he’ll learn better when he is older—at school?”
When the Fathers come home after the war many of them will hardly know their children, they will be diffident and slow to take a lead. Mothers, you must help them. You, too, do not see as much of your children as you would wish while you are busy with war work. Together you must decide what really matters, stick to it yourselves and show the children that they must do so too. A few just rules always obeyed, a few good manners always followed—be kind to animals, don’t tease, be friendly to visitors, take turns—whatever you decide on, stick to it and the children will follow your lead and will grow up.
- They will grow to know the meaning of the words “must” and “ought.” It is these two words which keep the family peace. Much disobedience and naughtiness in children are their way of finding out if these words exist and what they mean. They try it on. When they know the things they ought and must do, or be, they obey, they face facts. Lead them, bring them up to the peace of this knowledge.
Discussion: obedience, disobedience, naughtiness. Instances.
Typed by the Charlotte Mason Poetry transcription team.