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What does Charlotte mean when she writes this paragraph.
In part III – Habit is Ten Natures
Section II – The Children Have No Self-Compelling Power
Children Should Be Saved the Effort of Decision
“That the effort of decision is the most exhausting effort of life, has been said from the pulpit; and if that remain true about ourselves, even when the decision is about trifling matters of going or coming, buying or not buying, it surely is not just to leave the children all the labor of an effort of will whenever they have to choose between the right and wrong.”
What does that look like in application?
My take is that when our children have well formed habits, it saves them having to go through the decision making process at every turn and saves that for more important areas.
For example-my daughter has a morning routine. After years of forming the habit, she doesn’t have to think about whether or not she will make her bed and read her bible. She’s already been doing these things every morning so it’s a no brainer.
Having to constantly make decisions really does begin to exhuast the brain. It’s so much easier for me to clean the kitchen after meals, have my morning devotions, exercise, etc. now that I’ve made these actions habits in my life by doing them consistently over a period of time. I remember when I was a young wife and struggled with all these things. It was so hard and I constantly put the dishes off until morning, skipped my morning walks more often than not and often skipped my bible reading as well. I remember how hard it seemed and how much I dreaded getting up and cleaning the kitchen for instance. Now I laugh at my old self and wonder what I was making such a big deal about. Habit makes all the difference.
In my house I choose a worthy habit and then we add it to our routine and stay consistent about doing it. I believe these are CM’s instructions. Choose one habit and work on it until the children have mastered it, then add another one and so on.
I also think we can apply this to giving children too many choices. Modern parenting gurus are always telling us to give our children choices so that they can feel empowered-that they will behave better when they have some control over their lives. For the most part, I have not found this to be true. My children would go back and forth and have the hardest time making decisions about simple things, like what they wanted for breakfast. I found it better to make the decisions for them when they were little. It saved a lot of time. 🙂Wings2flyParticipant
I am going to post another topic on implementing schedules, but I remember reading in Managers of their Homes about how exhausting making decisions can be and that was one of the reasons for making daily schedules for each member of the household to follow. I have read the book and made the schedules, but have not been able to get us on the working schedule yet. So we need help here.LeslieParticipant
Thanks for posting this question. I read it a couple days ago and had to read it in context, mull it over, read it again, and mull some more 🙂
I think reading further down in Section III helped me:
“The problem before the educator is to give the child control over his own nature, to enable him to hold himself in hand as much in regard to the traits we call good, as to those we call evil:––many a man makes shipwreck on the rock of what he grew up to think his characteristic virtue––his open-handedness, for instance.”
Perhaps the application is actually fairly simple. We need to be intentional as parents in training our children’s hearts and therefore the words and actions that come out of those hearts. We do our children a disservice if we don’t prepare them for making choices to live out good and avoid evil. It is not enough to tell them what is good and what is evil. It is a daily training of hearts and minds (ours and our children!) to see our strengths and weaknesses, to allow God to work in us to convict us of the evil that lurks in our hearts, and to help our children recognize the prompting of God to do good and the strength He gives to do it. (Yes, I realized that’s reading into this short passage a bit).
I’m still very much in learning stages myself here, but in our house, I think of the way we train our children about truthfulness. We don’t let our oldest be the perpetual confessor, or our next child be the sneaky one, which appear to be their natural bents. We train them all in speaking truth, confessing when we have not valued the truth, and we use consequences that reflect the painful reality that where there is not truth speaking, there is not full trust. I think in this example, our children learn from a young age that truth telling is just the easier way to go, and so, while we are always revisiting this habit and depending on God’s grace when we fail, generally our children don’t have to think too hard about whether to tell the truth or not. They’ve learned from experience that life is just easier, more peaceful, and more satisfying when they tell the truth. One less decision to sap their processing powers at any given moment 😉
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