"It is the business of education to find some way of supplementing that weakness of will which is the bane of most of us as well as of the children.+--Charlotte Mason, Home Education
"The fallacy of equivocation occurs when somebody walks up to you...and punches you in the nose. Now, this isn't normal behavior in civilized society, so you ask the offender about it: 'Ow! Why'd you do that?' He responds: 'Today is Tuesday, and I can't stop myself from doing that on Tuesdays. I have a habit.' You, not satisfied....say, 'So, what does that have to do with anything?' 'Well,' he says, 'everybody is in the habit of doing something. You are probably in the habit of brushing your teeth in the morning....So, I see nothing wrong with my little habit.'"--"Lesson 15: Equivocation," in The Fallacy Detective, by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn"...These prophets in the home—these tendencies in our children—speak—very plainly sometimes, so that outsiders hear them, though parents are often deaf to them—and we don't grasp the message until, having lived on the land for the requisite number of years as undisputed possessors, they can claim it incontrovertibly in the end, and we ourselves wake up some day to find ourselves evicted and powerless before them."--Mrs. Edward Sieverking
Reading through Mrs. Sieverking's two-part article on "Tendencies," I notice two things in particular--more, of course, but two that stand out. One is her continual returning to the big picture; how our whole outlook comes out of our early experiences; how we may become, if you'll excuse the expression, nincompoops for life (or not), based on whether or not our formative years gave us sound habits and moral tendencies. The other is the idea that positive parental action is not all about scoldings, discipline, and reining in the youngsters; it's also about the wholesome things that we provide. A current word might be "healthy alternatives."
Mrs. Sieverking complains about jaded-looking schoolboys; children that have too much pocket money and so many toys that they abuse or do the Sid-thing on the ones they have; children that grow up into selfish, materialistic adults. (Some things haven't changed much since 1903.) Her remedy? True parental involvement! Not materialistic spoiling, but paying real attention to a child's artistic efforts; taking him along on errands, particular those that offer the chance to spend some time outdoors together; encouraging interests and hobbies. Her contention is that when children are taken out of whatever environments actually encourage their bad tendencies--for instance, getting them outdoors, away from the computer/games/TV/whatever--that that offers a natural and non-patronizing way to work out some of their knots. Working outdoors together might be a more motivating way to combat lazy tendencies, for example, than by lecturing or forcing children to do extra chores indoors.
It all takes time. Time together. Time that most people don't have. Not time to chauffeur the kids to more structured activities, but to go out and look for things, or at things, together; to have occasional surprises and adventures; to find shared interests; to "make a memory," as Gloria Gaither and Shirley Dobson wrote. Charlotte Mason wrote a bit disparagingly of our desire for excitement (in Ourselves), but Mrs. Sieverking points out that some of us, at least, will find life without any excitement rather stultifying, and it's then that we may start to look for it in unhealthy rather than healthy directions. And that, I think, it where she puts the responsibility on the parent, to provide as many healthy interests and opportunities as possible. Even if it's just taking a walk to look at the snow or the stars. I read recently about a parent who put all the "can you do this with me" requests in a jar, and set aside certain days a month to say "yes" instead of "later" or "maybe." But I'm not so sure that's the best way. Of course not all such requests can or should be answered "yes" right away, but not all of us will ever have that full day to catch up on such things...nobody's even guaranteed that we will ever have that day. So maybe today is the day we get to say "yes."
Just a thought.
"What we all need more in our households is a sense of direction: to check and divert certain tendencies, and to encourage and pilot others. Still there is, as Anthony Hope says, "such a lamentable gulf between feeling that something must be done, and discovering what it is"; and really to find out the truth in children's tendencies is a difficult matter indeed, and practically needs as much thinking out and exercise of right judgment as we are able to give."--Mrs. Edward Sieverking