I am not advising any Spartan regimen. It is not permitted to us to inflict hardness in order that the children may learn to endure. Our care is simply to direct their consciousness from their own sensations…At the same time, though the child himself be taught to disregard them, his sensations should be carefully watched by his elders, for they must consider and act upon the danger signals which the child himself must be taught to disregard. But it is usually possible to attend to a child’s sensations without letting him know they have been observed.Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children, pp. 287-288
We are assured here that what may sound harsh is actually a reminder that parents need to keep their eyes open for their children’s needs, without noticeably interfering. In one sense it requires an impossible amount of wisdom and discernment; but it can also be a simple outgrowth of our own will to live without self-obsession and self-importance. It is a form of “masterly inactivity,” that also teaches children to quietly, respectfully, and non-intrusively care in the same way for the needs of others.
And why? The point of not complaining is to allow us to see God’s glory, and we can’t do it if we’re focused on our own circumstances. Classical headmaster Danny Breed once wrote that, “Every lesson is going to go somewhere, and it is going to make much of something” (Circe Institute blog, February 1, 2016). That something, in Charlotte Mason’s words, is meant to be something, or Someone, outside of ourselves. It is not just how we live, but why we live.
In the spirit of the season
Do our New Year’s resolutions allow us to live without excessive self-regard (while still understanding our value as Personsouls)? Do they help us to hear God’s call and see His glory?
Although it is still Christmastide, many people (due to time realities) may be putting away their trees and decorations. Consider keeping out any star-themed ornaments, dishes, etc., for use on Twelfth Night and Epiphany.
Honest, Simple Souls: An Advent Meditation with Charlotte Mason is available for purchase on Amazon.com (or your own country’s version).