Monday, 4 March 2013

Sacredness of Personality



As I was reading through Charlotte Mason's thoughts on the sacredness of personality I revisited two places where I'd previously gleaned some ideas or understanding which to me paralleled what she expressed about this subject.
Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull was one of those places. In chapter 8 of this book he speaks about honouring a child's individuality.

'A child is liable to be looked upon as if he were simply one child among many children......but every child stands all by himself in the world as an individual, with his own thoughts and feelings, his own hopes and fears and possibilities, his own relations to his fellow beings and to God.

This truth is often realised by a child before his parents realise it; and if it be unperceived and unrecognised by his parents, they are thereby shut off from the opportunity of doing for him much that can be done by them only as they give due honour to their child's individuality as a child.'

I've been a mother for 24 years and this idea didn't really sink into me until I saw our older children develop and become 'their own person' and make their own decisions. For many years I was busy with little ones and then suddenly I also had older children who had ideas of their own and I was constantly going between the two camps, juggling my role and treading new ground. Sometimes BB and I look at each other and wonder where on earth some of our kids got their personality traits and how we ended up with so many different varieties of them.

One of the things about the sacredness of personality that I had to learn was in relation to one of my children who is introverted by nature. I watched a TED video last year about the hidden power of introverts which helped me understand that an introverted personality is about how you respond to stimulation - an extrovert has an increased need for social stimulation whereas an introvert is drained by too much of it.
Introversion is not about shyness - which is fear of social judgement - and I'd be trying to help a child to overcome this; but it is about needing quiet and time to recharge, think and reflect and be alone. 

I don't agree with her general philosophy or worldview but I thought she said some interesting things about how our culture and societal institutions such as schools are designed mostly for extroverts and as a society we tend to think that 'all creativity comes from a gregarious place.'



5 comments:

  1. I read her book, Quiet, and I also got some good knowledge about introversion which is not just being shy. It helped me for, as she says, if we are not introvert ourselves, chances are our spouse, children, friends, or their children, are.

    Like you, I do not agree with her worldview either, but I also saw her book Quiet and claims as a plea to respect personalities. And to be careful not to accept blindly the cultural understanding of personality, and its current idolatry of the extrovert as the ideal.

    I thought lots about homeschooling moms, and parents in general, how some wish for extrovert children because that is what they are, and what they and society values, or even introverts who have not seen their potential, may wish a different life for their children... at the end of the day, it dong on me that seeing children as persons is something I intellectually understood, but that I was not necessarily living by.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Silvia, so true about the cultural push in all of this. Even though in my heart I sort of understood that being introverted didn't mean a flat, insipid sort of personality, the outside pressure, especially because I was homeschooling was very difficult (eg if they went to school they wouldn't be introverted etc) and but for the grace of God I could have violated my child's personality. I had to internally resist the urge to push my child into something they were not. The problem is a sensitive child can react to this by withdrawing and adding shyness to the mix - if that makes sense.

    "seeing children as persons is something I intellectually understood, but that I was not necessarily living by." - great insight there, Silvia.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am encouraged by your post and your thoughts. It is a gift to parent from the heart and not try mold each child into something we believe they "ought to be". Even so, I still wobble and quake when a child makes choices that seem "wrong". It takes real faith to press on, to trust when things constantly change and have hope in the Lord to author and perfect each one's faith. Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, Nadene, and I have to keep telling myself that He loves them even more than I do!

    ReplyDelete
  5. "I've been a mother for 24 years and this idea didn't really sink into me until I saw our older children develop and become 'their own person' and make their own decisions" resonated with me. I have been a mother for almost 24 years and the hardest part is watching them make their own decisions!

    ReplyDelete