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Charlotte Mason on Kindness

homeschool mom and daughter laughingIsn’t it funny how sometimes it’s hardest to show kindness to those with whom we live day in and day out? It seems like when we walk out the front door, we remind ourselves that others are watching and we should sow kindness wherever we go. Yet when we stay in the house and deal with the same set of persons every hour of every day, it’s easy to become complacent and forget just how important kindness is in the home.

I’ve caught myself snapping at a member of my family then picking up the phone and instantly switching to a sweet voice.

If we can make kindness a habit in our lives, it will shine forth no matter who we are with, where we are, or what time of day it is. Even on those rough days. Even in those unexpected moments.

Charlotte described kindness like this: “The office of Kindness is simply to make everyday life pleasant and comfortable to others.”

Pleasant and comfortable. Do those words describe your home and your home school? Would you like them to? We can take steps in that direction by working to make it our habit to be “courteous or thoughtful, obliging or considerate.” A kind person demonstrates kindness “by refraining or speaking, by his manner, his regard, his words, his acts.”

But how? Sometimes we get squeezed in the daily-ness of life and what comes out of our hearts is not what we would desire. Charlotte had great insight when she revealed two tips to help us keep a kind attitude.

The first tip is to forget about yourself and focus all your thoughts on the person who needs your kindness. “People can be kind only when all their thoughts are given to the person or creature they are kind to, and when there is no backward glance to see how the matter affects self.” We usually become irritated and upset when we think about ourselves and how the other person’s actions are an inconvenience to us. Instead, forget about yourself and focus on what the other person really needs, what would be best for him in that moment.

The second tip is to give others the benefit of the doubt. We can often spot and refute a he-did-it-on-purpose attitude in our children, but sometimes it sneaks up on ourselves. “There are always two ways of understanding other people’s words, acts, and motives; and human nature is so contradictory that both ways may be equally right; the difference is in the construction we put upon other people’s thoughts. If we think kindly of another’s thoughts—think, for example, that an ungentle action or word may arise from a little clumsiness and not from lack of kindness of heart—we shall probably be right and be no more than fair to the person concerned.”

This month try to treat your children with the kindness and grace that you would give to a guest in your home. Be courteous and considerate, and your home will become a more pleasant and comfortable place.

(For more on Kindness, read Volume 4, Book 1, pages 99–102.)

7 Responses to “Charlotte Mason on Kindness”

  1. Amanda April 22, 2015 at 8:29 am #

    Great read & very timely. Thank you!

  2. Darla April 22, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    Thank you so much for “spurring” me on to love and good deeds! Kindness, a game changing (home changing) concept.

  3. Mike April 23, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    Also, remember that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, not something we can do in and of ourselves! Gal. 5:22-23

    • Sonya Shafer April 23, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

      That’s a great point. It’s encouraging to remember that the Spirit will prompt our hearts and minds toward kindness; we have only to cooperate with Him and obey those promptings and He will cultivate that fruit in our lives.

  4. cherylramirez April 25, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    awesome post. thank you. needed to hear this just now.

  5. Tracy B May 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

    Thanks! Good reminder for me today! A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger (Proverbs) comes to mind!

  6. Amber May 7, 2015 at 5:34 am #

    It is so true that we are often the most unkind to the ones that we love the most. This post is a great reminder of how we, as moms, have so much control over the atmosphere and influence of our homes. Some days that feels like a heavy burden, but with the Spirit’s guidance it does not have to be.

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