CM 3 #4 Home Life ASF
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CM EP 4
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Hello everyone, welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show. Before we start today's episode, I would like to give a shout out to SGreene85, who wrote a review in iTunes. They said, I know this is more of a homeschooling podcast, but I've truly learned so much about parenting listening to all these words of wisdom. I take that as a great compliment, thank you so much. And if you would be able to take a moment from your busy day and leave a review, or rate this podcast wherever you listen to it, that would be a big help in getting the word out about it.
Today's audio blog is actually someone named Tammy Wagner, reading A Parent's Review article. So the Parent's Review was a magazine that Charlotte Mason was the editor of. And this article is called Home Life. It is from the edition of the magazine in 1894, so there are some outdated things in here, about servants and whatnot, that most of us don't have any dealings with today, but it also has a lot of gems in there as well. So, I hope you'll be able to find those and apply them in your home as well.
Home Life, by A.F. S.
I heard the objects of the PNEU defined the other day as, "to teach parents how to obey their children." This was, of course, satire, but there was a grain of truth in it and that is why I consider a mother's letter one of the most helpful articles which has lately appeared in the Parent's Review. It deals with home life and a point of view usually ignored by the new educationalists and relegates the children, I think, to their proper place in the home.
We members of the PNEU acknowledge that the business of life is the formation of character. And we also will readily acknowledge, I imagine, that our own characters have been more truly formed by the sorrows and denials, the self-sacrifice of our home life, than by anything else.
Are we right if we deny our children this mental tonic? I think not. The old method did turn out, free, noble men, sweet and well-disciplined women, the heroes and heroines of the world have not been those, as a rule, who were their parent's first abject in life. I thank a mother, for her frank vow that she used to hate teaching, and that to be much with the children, was a distinct effort and duty.
I married at an age when every girl has a keen enjoyment in society, amusement, and also intellectual work. And at first, all these seemed entirely swamped by ill-health, the care of babies, and domestic details, which I hated. This society is anxious that we should give each other the benefit of our experiences. To do this, one becomes unavoidably egotistical. But still, I will give some of mine.
First thing. I think every woman should carry on her own intellectual education and endeavor to keep herself, in some way, abreast of current thought. This can only be done by reading. Certain, steady, hard reading. Which is an effort and sometimes an impossibility to arrange for in the day? Good lectures are within the reach of everyone near a town and given an impetus to study and thought.
It is a good plan, too, to rub up any subject in which we were good at in school, for it delights, and rather astonishes the children to find we can give them valuable help when they are ready to take up that subject.
Secondly, society has great impressing claims on us, which, for husbands and children sake, we must not neglect. A wife's first duty is to her husband, and to fulfill it, she must be ready to comprehend and sympathize with his pursuits, to entertain and amuse his friends, but all this means, in a sense, time is taken from the children. It means that we must so arrange our time and theirs, that they are suitably occupied while we are free.
I think most women do too much needlework. You often hear them say, oh, I have no time for reading, I make all the children's clothes. This, like the mending basket, which embooks always the company of the devoted mother, is surely a sign of bad management. I also make all my children's things, and with the help of a good needlewoman, it takes me exactly one week in the spring, and the same time in the autumn. The nurse can do the mending one day a week, and if, in a large family, it accumulates, there are always poor women who, for a very moderate charge, do, in a day, what it would take many hours of a busy mother's time to accomplish. I believe, too, in the old days of nursery life, and like a mother, I think of what my own mother used to do. In my own home, we were a great deal left to ourselves. My mother, though she had directed and overlooked everything, was too delicate to have us much with her. It seems to me now, she must have been very previous in her educational theories. We were educated at home for more than nine years by one of the best and cleverest women it was ever my luck to meet, who, by the way, I do not fancy, held any certificates, and by classes at a school near, but the great boon of our lives was leisure.
We had time to think, to play, to prepare our work our own way, and above all, to read. I don't know what we did not read, except that we had none of the literature written down to children, which, with the modern nursery is swamped.
Now, I think, children are being drawn out too much. They're not left to themselves enough to develop originality, even their amusements are directed and must have a method in them. I have never even attempted to amuse my children, and it would be hard to beat them for pure imagination. They're always busy and happy and never ask what they can do next. What they do ask, always, is, is there nothing we can do to help you mother?
I have a great dislike to games containing diluted science, a sort of watered-down kindergarten. Do let us leave the children a little pure nonsense. It is good for them. Our nursery was our castle, to which we only admitted grownups on sufferance. There, we played, acted, experimented, and occasionally fought, unmolested, and unchecked, accept by the nurse, who, I believe, lived in our family over thirty years, and ruled us disparately. Absolute obedience to all rules was insisted on. We were never consulted as to our likes and dislikes, as so many children are now by parents who never consider how soon it ages children to have to legislate for themselves.
The memory of that old nurse, who lived to nurse my boys, compels me to write on a point on which I feel strongly. Namely, that in homes where the mother does direct her nursery and schoolroom, the lady nurse is a mistake. Of course, when she is prevented from doing so, it is right a lady should take her place. But in having no one but ladies near our children, rather a point with the PNUE, is it not? I think we miss a Christ-like touch in our children's lives. Personal sympathy with the lower classes. Of course, a lady will superintend mending the toys and making scrapbooks for hospitals, but after all, these are only a form of charity, not the touch of sympathy, which alone, ever has, or ever will do anything to lift up this world of ours. How much more to our children learn of the lives of the poor, when it is their nurses little delicate sister who inherits their cast-off clothes and appreciates the dolls they dress, or when the boys discover the cook's brother, who has no pocket money and must make everything himself. Keeps poultry, rabbits, or pigeons, must more successfully than they. Or when they know the family to whom the Christmas dinner goes and can ask whether the pudding was good and the crackers funny, which they denied themselves to give.
Blessed with a dear home life yourselves, purify and gladdened poor homes around. The great hope for society is that the influence of pure and noble home life may descend and flow through all the squalid, retched households. A Christian household, ill-comprehends its vocation if it is not training the boys and girls which grow up in it to be wise as well as devoted ministers to the poor. Children cannot go among the poor, but through the maids who are part of their home, they can gain some insight into less favored lives than theirs.
I think we should make our servants feel one with us, that we cannot do without argument, an ideal motto for the nursery, allow them a few thoughts, sympathize with their monotonous lives, and above all, appeal to them for help in the care and training of the young lives which are partly in their care. Believe me, they will readily respond to confidence put in them, and in correcting the children's faults, they will check their own.
I grant, one has disappointments. Perfect characters are rare and our own friends sometimes grieve us, but I know from experience that it often results in years of faithful, loving service. After all, we cannot idealize our children. They are not angels, but future men and women, who have eternity to perfect themselves. We all would like to keep them ignorant as well as innocent of evil, but we cannot. Our boys must go out into the world and fight the evil that is around, not in them, and we know that it is to him that overcometh that the crown of life is promised. I think, too, that we do not enough insist on gratitude in our children. Only noble natures can be grateful, and many modern children seem to take all kindness as their right, and occasionally, even patronize their parents.
The father should be the center of the home. He works for it, denies himself many pleasures that the children may have all, and the children should feel this. A walk or a romp with the father, and hour's talk with the mother, should be an honor, as well as a pleasure. The children should realize that the parent thus devoting himself to them, might well be amusing himself another way. It makes me so happy when people say, I'd love to give your children pleasure. They are always so grateful. Oh, and my sisters tell me, if we give your children the smallest present, they thank us so warmly, we always feel nothing could possibly have pleased them more.
A holiday here is high festival, and the children have a hundred ways of planning out there father's time, but graciously allow that I have the first right to his society, and give me part of the day to have him all to myself. If it is more blessed to give than to receive, it is surely a gift to be able to receive graciously.
In conclusion, let me quote again from that beautiful book, The Home Life. One chief element of the parental art is judicious and timely confidence. The best preparation for the burden and struggle of life is the knowledge in some wise measure of what it cost the elders to live in the highest sense, effort, patience, hope. But even about the lower things of life, confidence is not wasted. Boys and girls are content to know their parents managed to live somehow, their daily bread and pleasures come to them as the sunlight comes. They know nothing of the dust and sweat of the battle that wins them. It is well that, as intelligence unfolds, the young people should know something of what the comfort and order of the home costs. Something of what the father and mother talk over with broken voices and clasped hands, sometimes, when the children have left them and the cares of the day are done, that they may not think that life is quite a holiday pastime, and may see that the noblest thing man has to do in this world is to toil patiently, and suffer bravely, that other may be housed, clothed, fed, and trained for God. Why is it children so frequently find it easier to open their hearts to strangers than to those who are set in their homes to be to them in the place of God? Make them your comrades, as Christ made His disciples, opening to them your heart of hearts, as their nature unfolds, while at the same time, see that you share their sports and pastimes and keep your interests keen in all their pleasures and pursuits, taking as much of your boyhood and girlhood as you can on with you through life.
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