Unschooling

Cui peccare licet peccat minus

This was posted at the Unschooling Catholics email list.

A quote from Ovid, roughly translated as He who is allowed to sin, sins less.

Now, the poem deals with a husband wishing to restrain a young wife and points put how she must own her chastity and that this ownership would make her chaste without spousal restraints.

Among other things.

We have discussed how this may, or may not, apply to our children. And to our relationship with our children.

I found the statement to be true in my own growing up.

My mum was very liberal . I had no curfews, no rules about under age drinking, no dress codes, no rules about bedtimes or books or movies.

I ended up being the most conservative of my friends. I used to make sure I’d be home at a reasonable time, while my friends wouldn’t get home to the minute of their curfew. I felt I had to be responsible so as to not betray my mum’s trust and because I was in charge of myself, I ended up acting as a grown up.

Now, I grew up in a single parent home and as the eldest child, always felt responsible for my mum. I felt I had to protect her. I felt that I had to be better than average, as a justification of sorts for our then unusual lifestyle choices.

So, freedom to sin ( or not) is not the whole story. I had freedom to sin yet I chose not. Because of the freedom? Or because of family dynamics?

Or because of who I am . A reader. Someone who was a bookworm as a child. I devoured the classics and children’s stories alike and ended up being heavily influenced by some favourite authors. I learned about virtues, about Christianity, about virtuous conduct, about warm family life, from books. From novels. As writer Maya Angelou said ~ When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading,just as I did when I was young.

Some of this experience has flowed onto my relationship with my children. I have always read aloud, strewed books, shared books, talked books. I have tried to have few rules, to discuss the whys and wherefores, to give my sons freedom to choose, while hoping that sharing my life and faith and books will help form their consciences.

The kids have never had set bedtimes or curfews, for example. I try to offer guidance not rules for dress and music and books and friends.

I try to keep in mind St John Bosco’s words to educators –Love what the boys love and they will come to love what you hold dear.

And St Philip Neri to the boys in his care– Do as you wish, I do not care so long as you do not sin.
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7 thoughts on “Cui peccare licet peccat minus”

  1. I like your take on this. But, I fear applying this to young children in their formative years, can be dangerous. I do not know, I firmly hold to this, but I guess I am not sold on it either.I love what you said about your reading, leading and forming your conscience, I suppose I see your point, when the good literature is a constant source of influence.Again, this is pricking me to ponder much.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with your post! In the case of children I think it gives them early experience of being responsible; and though there are no rules there is, as you say, guidance, so that they are not left without any bearings.To go on a slight tangent this philosophy is also the basis of my political thinking: that if you give adults the freedom to make the right choice, with guidance, they often will – and that if they don’t it is not up to the government to act as nanny and use legislation to try and enforce wise choices. It is better to let adults make bad choices that are their own than compel them to make good choices that are yours. We have free will for a reason!

  3. Molly, I don’t pretend to know the answer to this so am interested in your POV. I wouldn’t advocate licentiousness, esp with young children. But I do thik giving them choices, or perhaps choices with limits, works. Greg, I agree with freedom wrt goverance, too. But not laissez fair – i think there can be an argument for a government encouraging what is morally right. And protectng rights, esp the rights of the young and of those unable to choose for themselves.

  4. Great post–I grew up similarly and am the most conservative in my family! “He who is allowed to sin, sins less.” Makes me think of financial guru Dave Ramsey [who I am trying, trying, trying to follow] and his “blow money.” You put a small amount of money in your budget that you can just spend. Great Post!!

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