This is where I admit that this chapter was like a swift kick to my behind. This is one third of their education folks. One Third.
What does this mean? Discipline means "...the importance of cultivating good habits in our children-habits that they would then continue into their adult lives." Now wouldn't the opposite be true? Where I am not diligent and intentional in cultivating those habits and instead allow poor habits, even vice be developed instead? Would these not also follow my children into their adult lives? Think about that. It easy to see why this is one third of their education.
I couldn't help but think that this idea of habits is really all about virtue. In that context, the Church has equipped me well. Where I cultivate virtue in my children's hearts, I weed out vice. I have so many wonderful saints to turn to be living examples.
Charlotte then gives me four areas to focus on, four areas on which to build- moral habits, mental habits, physical habits and religious habits. When I think about our best days at home, where we truly love learning together, it is easy to see that those days don't just happen. We worked to create the atmosphere and were disciplined in all these areas. For a home schooling family (and a large one at that) these habits are essential to having our homes reflect the domestic church. I have always loved the image of my home as a mini monastery. In a monastery, every monk does his part, prayerfully and intentionally. In this way, all the work gets done. So I must train my children in these habits so they become a natural part of the rhythm of our days.
"We should put intentional thought and effort into forming habits." Intentional. Atmosphere is useless without this intentionality. This means I have to ponder and plan how to form good habits in my children every day. And beyond that I need to have the big picture in mind for where we are headed (heaven, I pray). It means I need to know my children. Each one is unique and will struggle in different ways. It is up to me to see where they need my help in turning a fault into a healthy habit.
"She must consider with herself what fault or disposition the child's misbehavior springs from; she must aim her punishment at that fault, and must brace herself to see her child suffer present loss for his lasting gain." Here is intention again. Too often, I find myself simply reacting to my children's misbehavior or bad habits. Punishment is willy-nilly, not following natural consequences. Here is where I need to slow down, ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit, and find the right solution to help my child grow. Too often I just satisfy the need to make sure my child knows she/he has done something wrong without taking the time and effort to really bring about a change of heart and attitude. If I hope to bring about lasting good habits, I must be intentional. This ties in to another favorite quote. "Incessant watchfulness and work are required for forming and preserving habits." Every time, all the time. The logistics of a large family and a busy life may seem this impossible. Do I really believe God sent me this children to sanctify my soul, that without them I won't get to heaven? If I do, then I know I can turn to the grace of my vocation and be fully equipped for the task.