Well, you might be interested to know that after writing that article last week, my life changed in such a way that I’ve had to put everything I wrote in that article into practice myself! We have two new puppies at our house. Are you sufficiently amused?

And here I am, trying to write about educating…educating children, and what I’ve learned through educating children, and horses, and now dogs! In all of this I want to declare that I know it is not always easy. Trying to put into practice just some of the things I shared last month has humbled me on several occasions. Yet, I still believe the principles are true, even if the ideals are high. It still seems worth pursuing a reasonable gentle, approach to educating, even if stumbling occurs and one has to get up and try again. And yes, I did stumble a few times and I did resort to old heavy-handed disciplinary measures, especially when I was tired when I could have used much wiser methods.

corral1So, what are some of the wiser methods? We began this discussion in Parenting Thoughts from the Corral  {part 1} where we talked about anger vs. gentleness. Here, I wanted to add a few other ideas for you to think over and maybe even try out.

One of the ideas that I did not bring up last week, and which is a vital factor in gentle educating, is the role of leadership. A gentle approach to bringing up and teaching children doesn’t mean being your children’s buddy or letting them have reign. On the contrary, legitimate leadership must be established. One thing for sure, it doesn’t matter if you are talking dogs, horses or children, they are looking for a leader. Each one needs someone wise and kind to feed them, shelter them, educate them and protect them, etc.,–wise, kind leadership. Therefore, we must accept responsibility of becoming the leader. I think parents hear the word “parenting”, and think of themselves as being “parents” while sometimes forgetting that a major part of that role is a very real decision to step up and accept the responsibility of being a leader. “Who, me a leader?” Yes! Each of us!

Now a person has a choice to make. He can be a despot leader, harsh and authoritarian, and neither children nor animals seem to appreciate or have much respect for that. A person can be a lethargic or uninterested leader. That seems to promote rather dull charges. Or, a person can be a servant leader. A servant leader is one who will lay out his life to serve as best he can, to be good leader to his children and wise in his care of animals. A servant leader isn’t always worried about his own agenda for the day, but rather concerned about and watching out for the well being of his charges and making necessary sacrifices that serve that end. A true servant leader also cares enough about those entrusted to him to stay focused on what is necessary to be taught, never wavering and calmly making sure that the lessons–those important lessons of life are indeed mastered.

One thing that makes even good leaders “crazy,” however, in this process of educating (whether academic or character or life lessons) is that the entire process is so slow. Each day, just a wee bit occurs. Some days, progress seems to regress only to spring forward into a wonderful day on other occasions. There was a book written in the 1970’s called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson. This title seems to accurately sum up the way life works no matter what kinds of relationships one is speaking about. We see things that need to be accomplished with our children. We set simple attainable goals to proceed and then we stay focused. This extended time of focus should be calm and respectful, but non-wavering, nevertheless. Our long obedience to follow through until the goal is met is actually for the children’s sake!

Don’t miss Part 3!

Jane Claire Lambert