Let’s talk about Charlotte Mason : Masterly Inactivity

Being a parent isn’t always easy, we all have good days and some not so good days. Parenting doesn’t really come with an instruction manual but we do have a few insightful books that offers us some guidance in our role and duty as parents.

While reading School Education Developing a Curriculum  by Charlotte Mason, I came across something called “Masterly Inactivity” and I was immediately intrigue. The idea that you can be authoritative in a passive way, sounds delightful, doesn’t it?

What is Masterly inactivity?

Masterly refers to the authority figures that knows what he or she is doing and doing it in a way that doesn’t micromanage the child but being a peaceful presence that draws them back. In other word it’s an invitation to obedience that will include the child free will.

You as a parent have authority and your children should be keenly aware of that authority…. Both words Masterly and Inactivity are important. You must have control over your children and have your authority in first (masterly)before you can practice wise passiveness (inactivity) allowing them breathing room – room to explore, learn and grow within your boundaries ~ Masterly Inactivity with Charlotte Mason by Sonya Schafer

  • Masterly or the why of authority. It is my personal belief that children not only need but crave authority to feel safe and to be able to grow into independent functional adults. Kids needs to know the boundaries and needs parents to put them into place.

We must establish boundaries that will protect and nurture the children God has given us.  It is not our option to neglect or ignore those boundaries, because we ourselves are under God’s authority.  We must obey His authority just as children must obey our authority.  ~   Masterly Inactivity with Charlotte Mason by Sonya Schafer

This concept really comes into twofold and as we just read the role of an authoritative (but not authoritarian because this type would only crush the little souls) figures a part of the equation along side with the passive or inactive part. What does this part looks like you may be asking yourself.

Firstly we need to know that parent need to be self-confident, we should trust ourselves more and confident in your child abilities. Secondly we need to be omniscient, or what I would call be alert and on our guard all the time. Trouble comes when we are not up to our game, or when we shut the door to go use the restroom (please tell me that it happens to your house too, the mama is in the potty and chaos all breaks loose!)

Omniscience of parents. We need to see without watching, know without telling, be on alert always, yet never obviously, fussily so. This open-eyed attitude must be Sphinx-like in its repose.  ~ School Education Developing a Curriculum  by Charlotte Mason

The children must know that you are there to intervene if needed, this done in a passive way that will allow your child to feel that he has option in making decision, that he is able to make mistakes but that the parental authority and safeguard is always there available to him.

Putting it simply, the inactivity part is that the child should know what is expected of them. The parents should have put their expectations on their kids and have faith that they will be meeting these expectations.

How about you, what insight would you give to someone who would like to understand what masterly inactivity looks like?




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