I recently published a nature study tip from Charlotte Mason which basically boiled down to “don’t talk too much.” Now on the very next page of her fifth book, Formation of Character, I find advice for developing positive character traits in our children which is very similar. Here is what Charlotte has to say:
“Chivalry, honour, delicacy, and obedience, impassioned obedience, to the divine law, these are the chords to play upon if we are to have pure youths and maidens. But we must believe that chivalry and chastity are there, and are not foreign ideas to be introduced by our talk; and this is where many a parent fails. He is aware of evil in his child, and makes deadly allowance for it; and his suspicions create the very evils he dreads . . . It is well we should understand that suspicion also is sin, and begets mistrust and offense.” (p.251)
I don’t have a great memory but I remember clearly form my own youth two times when my mother expressed suspicion that I had done something wrong (when I hadn’t) and how very hurt I was that she could think that. Now two times in 18 years is not much. I don’t mean to blame my mother. My point is that a parent’s confidence or lack thereof can have profound effects on a child.
I have one child who tends to get up to a lot more than the others. And it is very hard to control myself and not always come to him with an attitude of suspicion when somebody has done something. But this quote inspires me to try and assume the best, even if it means sometimes I err the other way and miss some things he did wrong.