Charlotte Mason tells us,
“The child who starts out with, say, 20 good habits begins with a certain capital which he will lay out to endless profit as the years go on.”
In the next series of posts, we will discuss many of the habits Charlotte Mason mentions and consider how best to train them in ourselves and in our children.
20 good habits. That isn’t so difficult to achieve over the course of a child’s education. And yet, there’s one we must nurture first and foremost.
The habit of “Thoughts of God.”
Charlotte Mason says,
“The introduction of such ideas [that will bond our children’s] soul to God is the first duty and the highest privilege of parents.”
“Let the child grow, so that,
‘New thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven,’
are a joy to him, too; things to be counted first amongst the blessings of a day.”
So how do we cultivate in our children these new thoughts and new hopes?
READ THE BIBLE TO THEM
“Above all, do not read the Bible at the child: do not let any words of the Scriptures be occasions for gibbeting his faults. It is the office of the Holy Ghost to convince of sin; and He is able to use the Word for this purpose, without risk of that hardening of the heart in which our clumsy dealings too often result.”
Charlotte Mason tells us not to make the mistake of burying the Divinely inspired text under our endless comments and applications.
Let the Word apply itself. Read and keep silent. Allow the child to ponder the meaning. In this quiet moment, the Holy Spirit will begin working out His wonderful Truth in the soul of your child.
OFFER IDEAS WHICH INITIATE A HABIT
In addition to Bible reading, a wonderful way of establishing thoughts of God as a habit is through stories of people of faith, not only from the Bible, but from missionaries of the past and present.
A well-written missionary story can inspire a child and fuel their heart for the Lord, prompting continual thoughts of God.
PRESENT THE IDEA OF GOD TO THEIR SOUL
This habit is probably the easiest to instill in our children, for we have Divine Cooperation. But it is also the easiest to get wrong if we employ the wrong methods and motives.
Charlotte Mason reminds us often that our children’s hearts naturally cry out for communion with the Living God.
Our children’s fresh and tender souls long for His guidance, His victory in the battle of the flesh.
Let’s consider how we may present the idea of God to our children.
Our Father in Heaven
Charlotte Mason tells us,
“Our Father, who is in heaven,” is perhaps the first idea of God which the mother will present to her child––Father and Giver, straight from whom comes all the gladness of every day.”
God the Giver
When presenting the idea of God to our children, we must present Him as He is––the Giver of gifts, joy and happy moments.
Ms. Mason tells us,
“If we think of God as an exactor and not a giver—exactors and not givers shall we become.”
The Indwelling of Christ
Explaining that Jesus comes to live in the hearts of those who love Him is a wonderful truth to present to children.
“Their large faith does not stumble at the mystery, their imagination leaps readily to the marvel, that the King Himself should inhabit a little child’s heart. ‘How am I to know He is come, mother?’ ‘When you are quite gentle, sweet, and happy, it is because Christ is within.”
WALK OUT YOUR FAITH IN THEIR HEARING
Charlotte Mason advises us to live out our faith in front of our children. Talk to God in their hearing. Pray for others out loud and as soon as the thought comes to you (which is likely a prompting of the Divine Life in you.)
Charlotte Mason says,
“Children are so imitative, that if they hear their parents speak out continually their joys and fears, their thanks and wishes, they, too, will have many things to say.”
MAKE KNOWN THE GRACE, MERCY AND FORGIVENESS OF GOD
Our children must come to know that their little or large misdeeds are readily forgiven by God if they ask.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Parents often make the mistake of requiring children to ponder their wrong-doings overmuch, asking them—sometimes harshly—to think about what they did and why it was wrong.
But we should not make our children dwell in that pit of despair, thinking, knowing, imagining again and hearing over and over that they have done evil.
Charlotte Mason warns us not to get our children into the habit of such deep negative introspection.
Instead, we should point out the error and at the same moment point them to the God of mercy Who is standing ready to forgive them completely and cleanse them from the sin which so easily entangles them.
We must help our children understand that when God cleanses them as He promises, their sin is gone—as far as the east is from the west.
They are made new again!
Sometimes we fall into this error of parenting because we, ourselves, are so shocked at our children’s misdeeds. How could our child have said or done that?
We must remember that our children are just as susceptible to the same sins of the flesh as any human heart can commit. We must understand that there truly is an opposing force wanting to lead them astray.
And that same opposing force wants us to overreact and forget the mercy and grace of our slow to anger, long suffering, forgiving God.
IMPART THE TRUTH OF OUR FIGHT AGAINST SPIRITUAL FORCES OF WICKEDNESS
It’s important we help our children understand the raging battle between the God and Satan. They’ll not be surprised to learn that there is an opposing force set against them, wanting to corrupt them. They must understand that the enemy can be implicated in some of their sinful notions or actions.
Ms. Mason tells us,
“That an evil spiritual personality can get at their thoughts, and incite them to ‘be naughty,’ children learn all too soon and understand, perhaps, better than we do.”
She also says,
“It is an insult to children to say they are too young to understand this for which we are sent into the world.”
“Let children be depressed with much ‘naughtiness’ when they should live in the instant healing, in the dear Name, of the Saviour of the world.”
“Except the Lord build the house, they labour but in vain that build it’; but surely intelligent co-operation in this divine work is our bounden duty and service. The training of the will, the instruction of the conscience, and, so far as it lies with us, the development of the divine life in the child, are carried on simultaneously with this training in the habits of a good life; and these last will carry the child safely over the season of infirm will, immature conscience, until he is able to take, under direction from above, the conduct of his life, the moulding of his character, into his own hands.”
ASSURE THEM THAT HE IS OUR HIDING PLACE
Let your children know the fight is not theirs alone, but the battle belongs to the Lord—in whom we find safety and deliverance from evil.
Teach your children that God is their strong tower, their safe place, their hiding place.
Have them memorize Scriptures that speak to these truths about God. Truths that will establish and nurture thoughts of God.
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10
You are my hiding place. You protect me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “You are my refuge and my fortress,my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
Let children your children know that in all fearful moments, they can find protection in God.
As Charlotte Mason says,
“Such a place to hide him in should be the thought of God to every child.”
Remember, though, that it isn’t your job to make your child’s heart tender toward the Lord. He longs to do that, and He will.
We can entrust our children into the loving hands of Our Savior. He will instruct them and teach them in the way they should go. He will advise them with his eye upon them.
God loves your children far more than you could ever love them, and He has plans for them that are greater and more wonderful than the plans you have for them.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you. Psalm 32:8
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Let’s hold on to these very great thoughts of God, even as we train our children to.
For more Charlotte Mason insight read here.