Don’t you love it when common threads emerge among the various topics you’ve been studying? It’s so inspiring to find the ways things fit together and reinforce one another. I’ve lately been studying these are other materials: Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the Thomas Jefferson Education philosophies (contained in books such as Amy Edward’s LOLIPOP book and the DeMilles’ Leadership Education and Phases of Learning), Parenting:A House United by Nicholeen Peck, Commitment by Vaughn Featherstone, my canons of scripture, and a Positive Parenting class offered by the local LDS Institute presented by Carleen Tanner (whose blog can be found at carleentanner.com).
While there have been many bridges revealed to me over the last few months that connect the various ideas presented in these resources, there is one bridge in particular that has stood out to me as the most traveled between these topics. It is the idea of agency. I believe agency may be the key to unlocking many of the goals I have for my children and for myself so that we are free to develop and improve ourselves.
How easy it is to just answer a question with a straightforward answer, especially when the question is asked by a child. If we are answering with the intent to exhibit our expertise, then an accurate, thorough answer may accomplish that goal. But if our intent in answer the question is to bestow real understanding in the person asking, such an answer may not be most effective. Often the answers we seek for ourselves are the most complete and memorable. Christ often inspired this type of learning in his earthly ministries through the use of parables.
The real question we might ask ourselves is: What are our underlying goals as a parent? As a home educator? What type of child do we want to raise? What strengths to we wish to provide the opportunity for our children to develop? What will give them the wisdom and capacity to conquer challenges when we are not by their side? I submit to you that your worthy goals can only be achieved if you pursue our Heavenly Father’s plan, and not through the pursuit of His (and our) adversary, Lucifer’s plan. The path of compulsion is the path of misery and dissent. The path of free exercise of agency is the path of empowerment and self-refinement. As parents our charge is to provide the opportunities and environment in which our children can become who they are destined to become by their own choosing. By this, we effectively join Our Father’s work to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of men.
This necessity of protecting the right of our children to choose is a necessary component of Nicholeen Peck’s parenting skills. It is the key identified by Sister Tanner to inviting a child to come unto Christ, by encouraging them to interact with their Savior Himself rather than to perform required religious tasks for us. It is the secret to unlocking a love of learning that leads to true scholarship as taught by the DeMilles and Amy Edwards, as opposed to educational compulsion. It is the tool with which we place ourselves securely in Covey’s Circle of Influence, where we can become empowered to act and not to be acted upon.
Most of us must resist our desire to compel our children to act so that we may empower them to act for themselves. We must be creative in the way we structure our home to allow this preferred type of development in our precious, capable children. We are not the result of our circumstances. We are free to act, and to own both our mistakes and triumphs. With that freedom comes the responsibility to be better each day than the previous day, to set our own goals, measure, evaluate, and encourage ourselves along the path of our choosing. It is the way to wisdom, happiness, and success. Let us travel this bridge often and invite our loved ones to come along, that we can discover together our individual and collective joys.