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ElizaG

Ella Frances Lynch thread #2

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Shoes, thanks for the book recommendation - I remember when it came out and all the horrified denunciations of Chua's allegedly authoritarian parenting, but I never did get around to looking at it myself. The point about enjoying things we are good at, but it often taking a fair bit practice to get to that point is such a good one - I think it applies to parenting, too!

The weather is currently gorgeous here, so I've been sending the kids out more and starting to think about next year. My eldest is turning 10 this summer, so we're finally slipping into the EFL black hole - I need to spend some time poking around our older discussions of this period and figure out what I'm going to do with him. He's pretty motivated around languages, including, weirdly and with no prompting from me, Greek, so I think we're going to forge ahead with a classics-heavy plan for him. Eek. I'm still pretty unsure of how to work in English and the content subjects for him, though. 

Oh, and I may have a new favorite Kathleen Norris novel - The World is Like That, about an office girl who narrowly misses a really bad course of action and then winds up the companion to a very spoiled young heiress. The ending is maybe not her strongest, but I really enjoyed most of it - some serious examples of tact, too! 

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Will look at the Amy Chua book as well.  I feel as if there are still some gaps in my understanding of this.  It’s even starting to seem that my practical and intuitive ability to raise children has become *greater* than my theoretical grasp of the subject. I realize that this is very normal and good, but it’s also unfamiliar and unsettling, LOL.  More seriously, it means that I’m not able to communicate about it very well to other parents, even if our circumstances are similar.

For instance, I recently gave someone a copy of “The Renegade Home.”  This person has taken EFL to be saying that, since our children’s faults mainly come from imitating us, we shouldn’t presume to correct them (especially the older ones), but rather just accept that it’s our fault and keep “working on ourselves.”  This interpretation seems to go against both Scripture and common sense, but I don’t know how to argue against it.  I suspect that this line of thinking is precisely how “permissive parenting” got its first toehold. 

Any thoughts?

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That is a fairly odd misreading of EFL. My hunch is that permissive parenting and other confusions must stem as much from ruptures in actual lived experience as new and bad ideas, although untangling that particular vicious cycle would be difficult. At this point, it seems like people have a very limited repertoire of parenting moves they can imagine, mostly relating to how one does or does not respond to individual acts of naughtiness, because they have only experienced a very limited repertoire of parenting moves (I know that as a younger mother, I had hesitations around correcting my child because I mostly had a fairly harsh picture of correction). Other aspects of teaching, training, and guiding are at best taken for granted and thus invisible to those who have the good fortune to have experienced them. For example, a couple of years ago I very excitedly told my friend that I had figured out an amazing technique for keeping my kids calm, quiet, and still when we have to wait somewhere: telling them a story! She looked at me like I had just arrived from Mars because doesn't every one know that? Of course, it turns out that her mom told her stories when they were waiting places when she was little and mine did not, nor had I ever seen another parent engage a child this way.

This most recent Kathleen Norris novel I read actually bears a little on this question. The spoiled adolescent heiress has been subject to periods of complete indulgence alternating with ultimately ineffectual management by a very strict "Victorian" governess (I thought of your comment, Eliza, that earlier writings often seem more relatable to you than things from Victorian times) - a cycle that seems to be mirrored in many families even today. The heroine, having just disentangled herself from a very bad situation of her own making, has to take an entirely different line of influence, trying to win the girl's affection while simultaneously drawing the line about somethings - no more lunchtime cocktails! - and introducing some new more wholesome activities and then gently trying to awaken an innate desire for self-improvement (by appealing directly to her vanity). Norris shows her thought process at a few crucial moments trying to decide what will be the most effective course of action - I found it very interesting and realistic. Progress is slow-moving with periods of regress and no satisfying resolution (for the young heiress - the heroine gets her man, of course), just the prospect of all her choices, for good or bad, continuing to play out with various consequences. Which seems like how life is. 

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On ‎4‎/‎30‎/‎2018 at 11:06 AM, LostCove said:

That is a fairly odd misreading of EFL.

I agree, but can't figure out how to explain it in any effective way.  I think I'll just take it as a sign that this person, for whatever reason, isn't really open to the advice.  Which is too bad, because this is one of a vanishingly small number of homeschoolers I've found IRL who are somewhat open to discussion of vintage educational writings.   Most just glaze over when they realize that this will involve reading the book and thinking it through for themselves. 

This is giving me a little insight into how EFL must have felt when she was rejected by the Catholics, and had to take her message to the Quakers.  

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In the Tiger Mother book, Chua wrote that she was often asked whether her pushing of her children was for her kids' benefit or for herself. She writes that this is a "very western question" because children are seen as an extension of the self to the Chinese (I have no idea if she's correct about Chinese thinking here). This was an interesting point to me because I often doubt myself by questioning whether my pushiness is for my daughter's sake or for me. ISTM that maybe that's the root of permissive parenting; that if your child is completely distinct from you that you don't have the right to dictate what that child does. 

Which made me think of the CM idea that children are born persons. I've never understood why people think that's such a profound idea. It seems obvious to me. IDK? I've never read much CM so I probably misunderstand her. 

Perhaps that idea is lurking beneath an assumption we should not presume to correct our children's faults? 

 

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On 5/12/2018 at 3:02 PM, Ordinary Shoes said:

In the Tiger Mother book, Chua wrote that she was often asked whether her pushing of her children was for her kids' benefit or for herself. She writes that this is a "very western question" because children are seen as an extension of the self to the Chinese (I have no idea if she's correct about Chinese thinking here). This was an interesting point to me because I often doubt myself by questioning whether my pushiness is for my daughter's sake or for me. ISTM that maybe that's the root of permissive parenting; that if your child is completely distinct from you that you don't have the right to dictate what that child does. 

Which made me think of the CM idea that children are born persons. I've never understood why people think that's such a profound idea. It seems obvious to me. IDK? I've never read much CM so I probably misunderstand her. 

Perhaps that idea is lurking beneath an assumption we should not presume to correct our children's faults? 

 

 

I think that is why people often feel that way, yes.

With regard to children being born persons, yes, it does I think come out of a view of the child as an extension of the family, or a possession.  But it's maybe more directly a response to the educational tabula rasa approach, where the idea is that you have to kind of create the child by filling them up with the right things.  And then, I think it's also a response to a kind of negative view of the soul, where you have to be very careful to form it properly because of the overwhelming propensity to evil.  It's a religious-spiritual insight about the relation of children to the Divine Life.

I always think of the kind of Classical Conversations approach as the modern antithesis of it.

it's closely related to the idea that it is the child's mind educates itself and is drawn to the good, to God, to knowledge, that it makes the connections and comes to it's own conclusions.  It's what allows the parent to trust in that process and step back and also why the teacher is not supposed to tell the child what conclusions to draw.  

It does in a way seem obvious, as our culture almost makes it extremely at times, as you note. By the same token though, we don't seem to really want to give children intellectual and moral autonomy - even a lot of supposedly liberal parents spend a lot of time making sure their kids come to the right conclusions.

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