I'm still stewing a lot on the ideas about docility and being open to correction that I wrote about in my last post. And while I'm at it, I'd like to thank my alma mater for the shout-out for that post on their Faith in Action Blog.
What I've been thinking about in particular is about how to apply these ideas to raising children in general and to homeschooling in particular. First perhaps, we could consider...
How to Be Sure Your Children Will Not Be Open to Correction
The wrong-headed way to go about it would be to fill your children's lives with as much critique and criticism as possible; to be nit picky about everything they do and say all day long. Nope. Not helpful. Inflicting constant criticism on your children will only make them defensive and insecure.
This is mistake might be an easy one to jump to because our society really has wrong-headed notion of criticism. Again, we tend to think of criticism as an attack on ourselves and an entirely negative thing. What I'm talking about here is a different notion of criticism we're open to learning and growing from each other and willing to bring up questions and concerns and corrections. Really, in a way, what I keep thinking of is a true, deep and open sort of friendship. The roots of this idea are most easily planted and nurtured within the family...
Playing with Ideas
One of the many great things about sharing a meal as a family is that it's the perfect playground for ideas and that's a big part of the point here. We need to be able to treat ideas with a certain amount of "lightness", to be able to detach them from our ourselves, bat them around the table, consider them from different angles and be willing to pull them apart and put them back together with others.
What About Things We Know to Be True?
It's tempting to shelter things we know to be true from such a "light" treatment. After all, even a doctrine of the faith that everyone present holds true is something that will be misunderstood or rejected by others that we encounter. Being able to "play" even with a doctrine can be quite helpful. We need to be willing to look at our beliefs from different angles and to take objections to them seriously (and charitably!) enough to imagine where a non-believer is coming from and help them understand what that belief means to us. It is the Catholic Church, after all, that came up with the concept of the "Devil's Advocate"!
Besides being more prepared to defend and promote our beliefs to others through this process, it is also a great way to move from acting in a certain way out of obedience (not to belittle obedience here!) to really WANTING to follow what the Church teaches.
We never need to fear opening Catholic ideas up for criticism. They really stand up well to reason!
Setting the Tone
Parents play an essential role in modeling all of this: playing with ideas, getting comfortable with having our ideas questioned, and of course learning how to answer questions and delve into the truth of the matter.
Our own tone in discussions, the parents' way of talking to each other and the love we use in how we speak to each other all play a substantial role. Here are some great phrases that we shouldn't be afraid of saying or hearing at our dinner tables:
"I don't know."
"I could be wrong."
"I wonder if...?"
"I don't understand why the Church says..."
"What do you think about..."