In our series on Charlotte Mason’s Formation of Character, Karen and I will be alternating posts with our own thoughts on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then we will both will share quotes from the book on Fridays. Charlotte Mason had a theory that older children, teenagers, and young adults have a common secret thought: that they are so full of faults that they must be unlovable, and that’s one of the things that often puts them out of sorts. On pages 116-117, she proposes a solution.
“But if one whom they trust and honour, one who knows, will, seeing how faulty they are, yet love them, regarding the hateful faults as alien things to be got rid of, and holding them, in spite of the faults, in close measureless love and confidence, why, then, the young lives expand like flowers in sunny weather; and, where parents know this secret of loving, there are no morose boys nor sullen girls.
“Actions do not speak louder than words to a young heart; he must feel it in your touch, see it in your eye, hear it in your tones, or you will never convince child or boy that you love him, though you labour day and night for his good and his pleasure. Perhaps this is the special lesson of Christmas-tide for parents. The Son came––for what else we need not inquire now––to reinstate men by compelling them to believe that they––the poorest shrinking and ashamed souls of them––that they live enfolded in infinite personal love, desiring with desire the response of love for love. And who, like the parent, can help forward this ‘wonderful redemption?’ The boy who knows that his father and his mother love him with measureless patience in his faults, and love him out of them, is not slow to perceive, receive, and understand the dealings of the higher Love.
“But why should good parents, more than the rest of us, be expected to exhibit so divine a love? Perhaps because they are better than most of us; anyway, that appears to be their vocation. And that it is possible to fulfil even so high a calling we all know, because we know good mothers and good fathers.
“‘Parents, love your children,’ is, probably, an unnecessary counsel to any who read this page; at any rate, it is a presuming one. But let me say to reserved, undemonstrative parents who follow the example of righteous Abraham and rule their households,––Rule none the less, but let your children feel and see and be quite sure that you love them.
“We do not suggest endearments in public, which the young folk cannot always abide. But, dear mother, take your big schoolgirl in your arms just once in the holidays, and let her have a good talk, all to your two selves; it will be to her like a meal to a hungry man. For the youths and maidens––remember, they would sell their souls for love; they do it too, and that is the reason of many of the ruined lives we sigh over. Who will break down the partition between supply and demand in many a home where there are hungry hearts on either side of the wall?”