In the midst of planning, many mothers can caught up with looking at every program out there, and then extend into looking at almost every homeschool philosophy out there. Have you ever felt like that?
It can be the same way with parenting: such division and derision: the “mommy wars”, the strife over feeding methods, discipline methods, so many decisions to make, so many times of wondering. “Am I doing the right thing? Am I going down the right path?”
Being a mother, being a parent, can be so hard.
There is a lot of talk in homeschooling circles about the formative years of birth through seven being about training the will or creating good habits. Yet, this passage speaks of the balance to me:
In the spiritual education of children, our first concern is not to train their wills, but to attract grace – by our life and prayer – to their environment, and to let each child’s heart become attached to grace. Theological discussion with children is a very small proportion of Christian education. Prayer that God will touch them with grace is a permanent dimension of all our dealings with children, even when they are not with us.
Protopresbyter George Metallinos, recalling the holy Elder Porphyrios: ‘He told me that I must deal with one of my children by praying a lot more. He specifically said to me about that child, “Whatever you would say to that child […], say it to God. Kneel before God and through the grace of God, your words will be conveyed to your child.” About my other child, he said to me: “[…] He listens, but he easily forgets. Therefore, again you will kneel and you will ask for God’s grace, so that your fatherly words will fall upon good soil and will be able to bear fruit.”**
*Fr. Theokletos Dionysiatis, “Between Heaven and Earth [in Greek], (Athens, 1955), p. 130.
So, if the Early Years has another dimension outside of training wills, forming habits for the body and within the home, I believe it resides in gathering grace for our children.
We can do this through having a strong prayer life. There are so many things where we will not know we are “doing the right thing” until our child is an adult. Prayer is a lifeline.
We can get lost amidst the myriad of decisions, and we can pray that we do not lose sight of the big picture of things we want to impart to our children before they are out on their own. We can pray for that, and we can pray to have grace when we and our children make mistakes.
The base of all of this is to have peace in our hearts, and to show this to our children in an outward way that they can see through our actions. May they see us praying, reading and studying the Bible, participating in the life of the Church Year.
May we also gather grace by having meekness and quietness in how we speak to others; we must show them love and kindness. This is the outward manifestation of peace in our hearts.
May we gather grace by living joyfully in simplicity and in a strong rhythm.
Let us never forget that humility, meekness, serving others, joy and peacefulness are what lies underneath all the parenting and homeschooling decisions.
Many blessings as you decide things today,