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.

Parenting: Will Training, Rather than Will Breaking

We should guard sacredly [our children’s] privilege of personal choice; … The final responsibility of a choice and of its consequences rests with the child, and not with the parent.
-H Clay Trumbull

parenting training

Mr. Trumbull suggests that it is a parent’s responsibility to train a child to be and do what they should be and do, rather than what they want to be and do. He goes on to say that each child may have a special lack that need be stimulated and that each child may have a trait in excess that need be restrained; and that to know the child’s needs and train them accordingly is the duty of the parent.

Mr. Trumbull’s concept of will training is one I find most prudent. This idea that the will of the child is to be trained and by no means broken. I have come to believe God has given us all free will and that no one would do well to take this away from another; even a parent a child; perhaps especially a parent a child.

Many people have issue with the ills of this world. Why do bad things happen to good? and so on. In my estimation God understands His creation, He understands what is needed, and He understands the ills of this world worth the price for a true love. While I may not, He does. God says to us “My will or yours?” The choice is ours. God does not force us to obey him. We obey Him because we love Him; because He first loved us. As the Creator, His creation is set up to His will or laws or word or what have you and I have come to believe these do well with His creation. If a self goes another way it does not do well for the fact that the creation was not created that way. It is a matter of alignment, if one is out of line it grinds the gears so to speak and thus the ills (Deuteronomy 30:15, really all of chapter 30 is better to reference). As parents we have come alongside God in creation. Through His blessing we create and have dominion over creation (Genesis 1:26-28). Put another way we have children and make the rules, “while you’re in my house…” and so forth. Perhaps we as parents might look to our Father in heaven in this matter of force of will.

I agree with Trumbull that we ought to guard sacredly our children’s matter of choice, their free will, given by God and not ours or anyones to take. That no matter our preference or our estimation of aright, in the end the choice need be theirs; and that the final responsibility of the choice and its consequences ‘rests with the child, not with the parent.’ And still the parent must use every good measure to train their child to do what they should. What then are we to do when the child’s will is not in order? When their will does not align.

Are not most standoffs a matter of control? A parent wants their will done, the door shut let us say. So a quick command is given, “Shut the door.” The child feeling that their will is threatened, wants to stay in control of themselves and is inclined to say no. This is not about the door. At this point there is a standoff of wills. The fathers to the child’s and thus an issue is created, the showdown, the battle of the wills. Another way is to take care not to give a command. Rather, “I should like the door shut, would you please shut the door?”. The choice is theirs, their will is not threatened and your will is still clearly stated. Still the child may say no for they have that choice in the matter. What then?

As God gives us free will, the choice in every matter, so I believe we ought to give our children that same. Your will or mine, your choice. As the creation is set up with consequences so also I believe ought the choices of a child have their due consequences. In life when someone makes a poor choice there are consequences. Often those consequences do not set on right away and one can venture so off the right course before they realize the matter that they find themselves with a long hard journey back to right. Choose not to brush your teeth before bed today and tomorrow there is not much the matter. The next day, the same, not much doing. The next week, no problem. They next year, and now there may be a serious problem that could stay with all the way on. A parent’s responsibility is to expedite the consequence of poor choices, so the path back to right is as brief can be. In the matter of the child who chose not to obey his father, the father may say to himself “what would come of a person who chose not to obey those in authority over time?” He may come to the conclusion, “Why they may end up incarcerated if this habit of choice perpetuates to adulthood.” The father may then chose to help the child understand this consequence in expedited fashion by way of a time out. He then presents the child with a reasonably good or a reasonably undesirable outcome and lets the child choose. “I must let you have the choice of this matter. You can either shut the door or take a timeout, the choice is yours, what will it be?”

 

-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.

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.