Parenting: Honoring our Child’s Individuality

A child’s rights as an individual are as positive and as sacred as a man’s; and it is never proper to ignore these rights in a child, anymore than it would be in a man.
-H. Clay Trumbull
Honoring a childs individuality
Children are people. Of course everyone knows this. And while they have not the same demands on their life as an older person may they have the same God given rights. God gave us what we have come to call the 10 commandments as a blueprint for relating to others. Hidden in these 10 commandments are 5 truths, each with an example of how that truth relates to those above us (the first tablet) and those our peers (the second tablet). After all where is the command in I AM the LORD your God? It is a truth. For brevity I will list these five truths here in order of their occurrence on the two tablets. A more full look at them can be found in this post, The Ten Commandments for Relating to Others.

  1. Others exist and have a right to,
  2. certain relationships are sacred,
  3. others have a right to their property,
  4. reputations are a form of property, and
  5. our rights have limits.

These five truths, in my estimation, like all truths work with creation, that is they do well with God’s design. They do not ‘grind the gears’ as it were. Like all creation the truth of the matter was gifted by God, that is, looking at it from the second tablet perspective; God gave life, marriage, possessions, reputation and our lot in life. And. No one can take these things away without working against God’s design. Grinding the gears. So what does all this have to do with child rearing? A lot I believe. We talked about how God gave free will and how important that is to consider when training a child. That is to guard sacredly that the choice of a matter remain with the child. Here in this, his next chapter, Mr. Trumbull encourages parents to consider that children are all individuals and that their individualism should be recognized and honored.

In the creation account we see something mysterious on the sixth day when God creates mankind. In the first five days God creates many things. We read these creation events and see a one to one ratio, Genesis 1:1 reads

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

God goes on creating with this pattern. God created and it was. God said and it was. And then we get to man and everything changes, Genesis 1:27 reads:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Interesting. Here we find a 3:1 ratio. Unlike anything else in the creation account. God created, created, created and it was. God said let us create them in our image. God, the three person God, creates man in His image; 3:1. Perhaps this is soul, spirit, and body. Perhaps more likely I do not have the words to express these three parts. But certainly there is something here. A great mystery.  Put another way, we are a spirit with a body not a body with a spirit. Certainly not just a body. There is something core to all us that is much more than a body. I like how the song I’m building me a home put it;

I’m building me a home. This earthly heart, oh is goin to soon decay, and the soul has got a have someplace to stay. When you hear me prayin, I’m buildin me a home. 

 

This idea of our core is what Mr. Trumbull suggests we as parents need understand. I believe Mr. Trumbull is recognizing that these 3 parts exist and urging parents to recognize that they exist no matter age. Here I come back to the five principles. The fourth: reputation is a form of property. On the first tablet we are called to remember the sabbath to keep it holy. Notice it does not say remember the sabbath and keep it holy. The act of remembering or observing the sabbath is what does keep it holy. When Christ teaches us how to pray we start with our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. This is a declaration of God’s reputation followed by a blessing that His reputation, His name, be maintained as it should unto the future. When Christian’s observe the sabbath they are upholding God’s reputation as the Creator.  Pointing to God by the way they live and saying with their actions, “Today is different than the other days because He is the Creator.” On the second tablet we see this truth more plainly. Thou shalt not bear false witness. We are not to slander our fellow’s reputation by lying about them. Furthermore, I have come to believe that this principle calls us to defend our fellow’s reputation. “No he did not do it, I know it so, he was with me at that time.” So then we arrive at this place where we are told that reputation is on God’s top 5 list. So how are we as parents to deal with our child’s reputation? their sprit? their soul?

Mr. Trumbull refers to it as honoring our child’s individuality. He argues that small children are often dismissed in this respect, almost dealt with as lesser people and that we would be wise to treat them in such a manner that these truths exist. These God given truths such as free will and reputation exist in people at their core no matter age.

…so many children are deprived of their right as individuals, by inconsiderate parents or others. When seats are lacking for new comers in a room or a street car, and two or three children are seated together by themselves in absorbing chat, the temptation is to speak quickly to the little one, telling them to vacate those seats for their elders, in a tone that seems to indicate that a child has no right in comparison with a grown person; instead of showing by the very manner of address that the children’s attention is called to their privilege of showing courtesy to their elders. in the one case, every child of that party feels aggrieved through being made to feel that his rights are not recognized as rights. In the other case, he is gratified by the implied confidence in his gentlemanliness, and in his readiness to yield his right gracefully. A child’s rights as an individual are as positive and as sacred as a man’s; and it is never proper to ignore these rights in a child, anymore than it would be in a man.

Children are not to be thought of as lesser men. Questions of a conversation brushed aside as to say; this is a topic for real people, which you yet are not. Concerns to be brushed aside as to say; your concerns are so very small in comparison to real people. Instead he believes a child’s perspective on a matter a sacred thing that if heeded would be to quite the benefit to the ‘real people’. To this belief Mr. Trumbull references the following scripture to which I will draw this post to a close.

Matthew 18:3-6:

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:10:

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

 

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Parenting: on Discipline

Unless children are trained to recognize duty as more binding than inclination, they will suffer all their lives through from their lack of discipline in this direction.
-H. Clay Trumbull

Discipline Parenting

So far in this study on parenting, that is in the last two posts, I have done my best to unpack the largest premise in Mr. Trumbull’s book, which is this: the training of a child’s will is a good way to bring them up. Will training rather than will breaking, I have come to believe works along with the way God designed us. That is each with free will that no one will do well to take. And so this means always letting the choice of the matter remain with the child as to train their will to do what they should and not what they want. I have come to believe that this matter of control over themselves is of the utmost importance to a child and all people. In Matthew 5:5 Jesus says “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness is power under control. The idea that power not under control leads to inheriting nothing is an important thing to consider. If we want to have things we need to stay under control. If we want to have a good reputation, wisdom, understanding, wealth or any measure of a thing desired we can not just do whatever we have the power to do. But we need come under control and do what is required. Do what we ought to do.

Discipline is Mr. Trumbull’s next topic. Discipline to the end of self control. This idea that discipline begets self discipline. President Porter of Yale said:

The chief advantage of the college curriculum is, that it trains a young man to do what he ought to do, when he ought to do it, whether he wants to do it or not.

Mr. Trumbull suggests that any course of training for a young person that does not accomplish this is a failure. Mr. Trumbull goes on to say:

Hardly anything can be more important in the mental training of a child than the bringing him to do what he ought to do, and to do it in its proper time, whether he enjoys doing it or not. The measure of a child’s ability to do this becomes, in the long run, the measure of his practical efficiency in whatever sphere of life he labors.

So what is discipline then and how is a parent to go about it? A modern view of discipline can be found referred to as punishment. Here I am endeavoring to return to a biblical understanding of what it is, its place, purpose and how we are to go about it as parents.

Depending on the translation ‘discipline’ can be found as little as once and in other versions as many as eighty times in the bible. Most of the occurrences deal with some sort of parental relationship. God to His children and men to their children. These relationships different of course but much the same. Thank God for providing us thee example to when considering our steps.

Discipline begins with instruction

The word discipline appears only once in the King James Version. In Job 36:10 which reads:”He openeth also their ear to discipline, And commandeth that they return from iniquity.” It doesn’t read ‘he openeth also their backside’. The bible tells us discipline starts with words. God’s word; also referred to as God’s law, precepts, commandments, statues, etc. These are instructions and warnings, meant to show us and guide us back in line with the creation. In Deuteronomy 4:36 we see that His word is instruction. “Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.”  2 Timothy 3:16 also reinforces this truth; “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

From this we get a much different understanding of the word discipline than that of today. In fact, in ‘A Dictionary of the English Language’ discipline is defined as the following: “1. Punishment. 2. [obsolete] instruction.”  Interesting our modern definition has proclaimed the biblical definition of discipline obsolete.

In the Hebrew hă mȗ sār, our discipline, is found 51 times in the Hebrew bible. 31 of those times it is translated instruction; 8 of those times it is translated correction; 7 of those times it is translated chastise.

Discipline’s foundation is leading by example

The word discipline itself comes from a Latin word meaning ‘instruction’ or ‘training’. As Christians we see this word in the core of what it means to be a Christian. To be a disciple of Christ. Christ patterned this for us in the gospels as He discipled the 12 apostles and it is clear in the great commision (Matthew 28:18-19) that at the center of discipling is teaching or instruction. When we look at how Christ taught his disciples it was first leading by example. One of the most incredible blessings we have is Christ’s example for us all to follow. One who learns by following is called a disciple. Interesting.

Discipline calls for physical punishment

Jesus Christ gives us the perfect example of how a man on earth should discipline those he leads. While the majority of the time Christ lead by example and served those He lead. He did rebuke and also physically discipline when needed. An interesting fact though is the proportion in these situations. While Christ was in a constant mode of discipleship, disciplining those He was leading, only once do we see physical discipline. Matthew 21:12-14: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” Notice how Jesus draws His authority from the Word of God. Still He was discipling and disciplining adults and not children, so this must be considered as well. That said, Proverbs 22:15 tells us plainly the importance of physical discipline for our children. It reads: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; But the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

Discipline is the duty of the parent

Deuteronomy 8:5 reads: “Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.” It does not read ‘as some men chasteneth their sons’. It is a given. This is what parents do. If a parent does not do it they are not a parent.

Hebrews 12:7-8 reads: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:” God makes a promise to David and shows us what a good father will do.

Proverbs 13:24 reads: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: But he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Discipline is what a loving parent does.

Discipline is hard on the parent

Proverbs 19:18 reads: “Chasten thy son while there is hope, And let not thy soul spare for his crying.” In my estimation this is a warning to parents. Your very soul will be moved to spare your child of discipline, but you need overcome it for your child’s sake. Push through the short term pain and trust in God that disciplining this young precious child of yours is critical and it is worth it in the end. Hebrews 12:11 gives us understanding, understanding of how it will work out in the end. It reads: “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

 

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

-A study in discipline

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

A Study in Parenting

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
-King Solomon

Inheritance parenting

Jamie and I are expecting our first, praise God! I have heard several times now from several folks that there is no instruction manual for being a parent. I am starting to think there is though. In my experience the Bible speaks to everything that matters in life. Of course, it is not in manual form; step one, goodness I can not even think of step one, God help me. Perhaps, it is love the LORD. God willing, we will see.

Jamie and I have been reading through the Proverbs each day in preparation for, God willing, the baby’s arrival. So much in the Proverbs speaks to child rearing and so much of child rearing speaks to discipline. A good friend of ours recommended to us a most excellent book, which speaks on the subject, in my opinion quite well: Hints on Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull, published in the year 1890.

Mr. Trumbull was the grandfather of Elisabeth Elliot. Many know the Elliots’ from the books, documentaries, films, and plays telling their story. The Elliots’ did missions work in South America. While on mission in Ecuador, Elisabeth’s husband, Mr. Jim Elliot, felt called to share the gospel with a neighboring tribe who were known as a violent people. Against local advice that he would be killed if he approached them, he went and was killed when he tried to share the gospel with them. Elisabeth with her new baby decided to stay there despite this tragedy and eventually was able to share the gospel with the tribe who killed her husband. I say all this to validate Mr. Trumbull as a child rearer. When I learned this family had produced a book on child rearing I felt very lucky to be able to read it.

As we venture through the Proverbs through the lens of child rearing I am endeavoring to make a full study of Mr. Trumbull’s book. Blogging about takeaways from the book will be an exercise in learning it well enough (hopefully) to pass it on and make use of it. God help me.

The first takeaway is Mr. Trumbull’s call for child training. He sets out by defining training then comparing and contrasting it to teaching.

…the training of a child is the shaping, the developing, and the controlling of his personal faculties and powers; while the teaching of a child is the securing to him of knowledge from beyond himself. It has been said that the essence of teaching is causing another to know. It may similarly be said that the essence of training is causing another to do. Teaching gives knowledge. Training gives skill. Teaching fills the mind. Training shapes the habits. Teaching brings to the child that which he did not have before. Training enables a child to make use of that which is already his possession.

Teaching gives knowledge where training departs habits of self control. Interesting. So much of life and children is in legacy. And legacy begins with inheritance. Heritage and resource alike. Just recently I blogged on a most important truth that Jesus lead with in His sermon on the mount:

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

In sum, if you want to inherit you have to be under control. Meek: power under control. Mr. Trumbull suggests that while a newborn may not be able to receive knowledge right away they can learn a degree of self control. Praise God that His creation works so perfectly. That a newborn can learn self control prior to receiving any power. Power not under control is not a good thing.

So my lesson number one. Child training should start from birth. If I desire my child to inherit anything they should need self control.

 

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.