Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Measure of Wisdom

I am a teacher.  Actually, that’s an understatement.  I home school my three children.  I tutor for a local home school group, mostly ten year olds with their moms also in the class.  I have taught a “Coming of Age” class for young girls (ages 8-14) and their moms.  I am also a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator who teaches childbirth courses, baby care classes, and breastfeeding courses to mostly adults and some teens.  I have also trained women to become Labor Doulas as an approved instructor for a national certification organization.  I point all this out to prove to you that I have had to draw up a lesson plan or two in my day.  I can’t just walk into a room unprepared to teach; it isn’t pretty.

What does it take to come up with a lesson plan?  I usually start with my goals or the measurable objectives that my students should get from my class.  Our goal here is to teach our daughters wisdom.  Is wisdom measurable?  What is the check list that my daughters must complete to show they are wise? 

A similar question came up at a dinner party my husband and I attended around Christmas.  We were all asked, “What coming-of-age rituals or activities could your child complete for you to recognize them as an adult?”  We broke into smaller groups and discussed this question and then pooled our responses (a post for another time, “What makes a child an adult?”).  The responses had a range of survival techniques, daily household skills, academic skill levels, and different ways to show honor and integrity.  Many of the items listed came back to an adolescent with wisdom. 

If wisdom is the ability to discern the right response or action in a given situation, how can I test each daughter to see if she has learned the lessons?

  • Can she explain in her own words the difference between being smart and being wise?
  • Does she work to understand what people mean rather than be content with her own understanding?
  • Does she see how and when to apply certain rules and when leniency is called for?
  • Can she recognize when something sounds like the truth but it isn’t?  Does she know how to fact check if she is unsure, and is she willing to put in the effort to do so?
  • Does she know how to ask for advice?  Is she gracious in hearing it unsolicited?
  • Does she know wisdom from others when she hears it?
  • Is she comfortable saying, “I don’t know,” and then going to look for the answer?
  • Does she understand where wisdom comes from?  Does she believe if she is wise it comes from her own effort?

Before we get into a discussion on Absolute Truths or fallacies in Logic, I am curious what you would consider the measurable outcomes of wisdom in your daughters’ lives?  At what age do you think you should expect any of this?  I would love to hear your comments.

Even a child is known by [her] actions, by whether [her] conduct is pure and right.   Proverbs 20:11

Monday, February 7, 2011

Protect and Prepare

Raising children is a strange mix of heart wrenching guilt because you feel you haven’t done enough and a heady exhaustion from the incredible amout of time and energy that you have already put into your children.  Parenting is a study of contradictions and fine lines.  As a mom I need to protect my daughter from raw unfiltered corruption in life until at some magical age (which is…?) I gradually expose her to filtered bits and pieces in such a way as to prepare her to deal with the raw unfiltered fullness she will encounter once she heads out into the “real world.”   I know I am not alone in sometimes, ahem, frequently feeling overwhelmed by the task.

We moms are continually working on multiple character traits in our children all at the same time.  We want to work on building their self-confidence so once they have wisdom they have the confidence to use it.  We want to work on their walk with God so when they are ready to establish their independence from us they transition to a dependence on God instead of getting lost in a worldly sense of independence from all but self.

I realized that I was working on so many character traits and daily little battles with my daughters that I was getting lost in the task and becoming that kind of mom that scares their daughters' friends away.  So to simplify my life and theirs right now, I think that I will be focusing on wisdom primarily.  If I can focus on equipping them to make good choices, discern what is truly good advice, to appreciate correction, and to recognize fools; that will carry over into honesty, integrity, work ethic, compassion, and so many other areas. 

I do not plan to let my daughters read whatever book they think looks interesting, nor can they listen to any music they choose.  I am selective about what topics I discuss with my daughters and am selective in the places and people I expose them to as a result of this.  However, I do plan to slowly and surely allow them to see the world around them in its gritty visceral beauty.  God created this earth.  God created the people in it.  I want my daughters to love all of God’s creation.  I also want them to see it clearly.  They do not have to condone or conform to the world. 

To accomplish this heady goal I will be their guide as I eventually show them books I would be happy if they never read and discuss topics that will make them cry or shiver with confusion.  I will give them the space, freedom, and counter arguments to question my beliefs, knowing that they might choose to one day reject them, so they can hopefully own those beliefs themselves instead of living on my borrowed faith with none of their own.  But before I do any of those things, I will make sure they are wise.  If I expose them too soon or before they have the tools of discernment, it will avail them nothing.

We walk a fine line of protecting our children until they are ready to be prepared.  I have been protecting my daughters, but I am ready now to plan out how I will prepare them.  Are you?  I would love to hear what your plan is.

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.  Proverbs 3:13-15

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.  Proverbs 22:6