Principles Never Do: Part 3

Welcome back to our three-part series highlighting a progression of principles that will lead to the good result of a happy, well-rounded, engaged, trustworthy, and self-governing child. This long-awaited post is number 3 of 3!

First, check out Part 1: Right Relationship.

And then head over to Part 2: Right Example.

Principle number 3 is…

3. Allow Agency

When principle 1 (Right Relationship) and principle 2 (Right Example) are in line, trusting a child to use their agency to direct their education can lead to wonderful results. And I don’t mean agency the way we use that word today; I mean it in the way it was used 200 years ago.

You see, in today’s terms, “agency” refers to an entity like a business or organization (e.g., an advertising agency or a government agency). But back in the day, (1828 to be exact) it meant one’s personal power to DO–the state of being in action or motion. Instead of allowing oneself to be acted on or controlled, a person with strong personal agency was one to act for themselves.

This is what I mean by agency. If our children are going to grow to become influential members of society, servant leaders, and powerful parents, they are going to need to learn how to govern themselves. This will require some practice. As parents, we have to learn to trust our children to make goals, to try, to fail, and to try again–to develop their own personal power to do, to act, and to choose. This is a deep departure from the norm of compulsory education today, and it can make us parents extremely nervous at times! Let’s face it… most kids don’t make great choices! They have underdeveloped frontal lobes that inhibit their ability to make rational choices! (Bless their hearts.)

So what makes it a good idea to give our kids the reins a little more? Well my friends, I’ve already told you. Right relationship. Right example. When your relationship is secure, your children will naturally seek your mentorship, value your opinions, and likely take your advice. When you are setting an excellent example of living a meaningful life, they will see the joy and purpose you have every day, and they will naturally have the desire to choose the same.

On the other hand, if a child is attached to their peers and has no anchoring examples of purposeful living in their lives, allowing agency will likely result in ruin.

“A child’s heart finds something to attach to and then becomes like it”

Relationship. Example. Agency.

Our world needs more men and women who are in motion, who have a strong and focused propensity to act for themselves, and who  use their agency to hold up the good, the true, and the beautiful. A love for and willingness to act on goodness, truth, and beauty cannot be obtained by force. This power and this love must be chosen and developed by each individual. Therefore, we must understand how to lead a child without force. Allowing a child to use their agency in their education is key to turning out self-directed, intrinsically-motivated individuals who morally apply their knowledge and skills to serve their fellow man.

2 thoughts on “Principles Never Do: Part 3

  1. Man giving kids more agency can be hard and a lot of time goes against my natural parental instincts. Lots of times I want my kids to just do exactly what I say, right away, & with a smile… which is an impossible expectation to have all the time, and often results in conflict. I can see how loosening up, letting kids make some chocolate (that was supposed to say “choices”, but thanks autocorrect… chocolate is much better) not only would provide kids with more learning/growth opportunities, but also improve relationships.

    1. Yes, I totally agree and I have such a hard time really living this principle even though I know it is true! It is a constant struggle to know which things to take the lead on and which things to leave up to them. I do believe that kids need boundaries, need to learn the hard lessons of cause and effect, and to be obedient to parents; however, these things can be taught outside of the context of education (instead of “you need to read ten pages before you can play”…just stick to things like “take the trash out or clean your room”). We can teach in ways that are loving and merciful instead of fear based and “justiceful” …if that’s a word 😉

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