Where’s your line?

Recently, I wrote an article for the Colorado Montessori Association.  Please read it below.


Where’s your line?
by: Jacquelyn Greenbaum

We all have it; do you recognize yours?  When has it changed? What changes it? Is your line inline with those you work with, live with, have relationships with? I’m talking about your compassion/conviction line.  The ideas you hold fast to, you won’t compromise on, are your convictions.  The ideas you can be swayed on, are passionate about, and/or believe are important for someone else is your compassion.

We each have this line.  There are many factors that move the line from time to time.  Your line may move depending on who you are talking to, or because of a specific timing or circumstance.  Your line may also move because of influences that are beyond your control, like a boss telling you to do something you normally wouldn’t.

There is no right or wrong for your personal compassion/conviction line.  But I would challenge you.  Next time you make a decision, think about your line.  Did you make it because of your conviction or due to your compassion?  Would you make the same decision if the circumstances were different, someone else asked, you were in a different place?

Now, think about the children we ask to make decisions every day.  How are we influencing their personal compassions and convictions? When that child let you know they hate broccoli and you still asked them to eat 3 bites, how are you changing their ideals?  When that child tells you another conviction of theirs, will they trust you to understand it?

What about when the child tells you they can’t put on their coat?  When you step in and do it for them, knowing full well you saw them put on their coat yesterday?  How are you influencing their compassion?

I am asking these things because I know at times I am mindless about the decisions I make, or the ways I talk to, or do with children.  I need to remember that children need to know why.  Why did I ask them to eat 3 bites of their broccoli? Why did I just right in without a word to help them with their jacket?  The child is still learning and creating their own line.  They need support to know how far is too far for compassion (when it starts to harm themselves or others), and how far is too far for conviction (when no one or nothing is thought about before a decision).  Children need to understand the whys of our decisions to understand the whys of theirs.

We ask a lot of the children we work with.  Reflecting on our own ideals will help us help them become a stronger decision maker.

Article Submitted by: Jacquelyn Greenbaum- Executive Director/Head of School: Renaissance Montessori Academy, Treasurer: CMA Board of Directors