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This fourth chapter in Hints on Child Training hit a tender nerve in me.  In this chapter, Trumbull exhorts parents to critically look at, but especially get outside input on their children’s most prominent shortcomings so as to know what to focus on while training them.  To be uncomfortably honest, I have yet to get up the nerve to ask even my parents (who would be the gentlest of responders that I know of) to help  me out with this (but I plan to this week, I promise).  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe it’s the “mamma bear” instinct in me that rises up anytime anyone says anything remotely negative about my kids.  I know my children have their faults just like anyone else but I don’t want to hear about them from someone besides my husband (and sometimes not even from him, if I’m honest).  I’ve had a pretty tactless remark said to me about one my children, and I had to control myself before I flew off the handle and I wanted to disregard what was spouted out because it was said in such a heartless way, but Trumbull states:

The unfriendly criticisms of neighbors, and the kind suggestions of friends, are not to be despised by a parent in making up an estimate of his child’s failings and faults.  Rarely is a parent so discerning, so impartial, and so wise, that he can know his children through and through, and be able to weigh the several traits, and perceive the every imperfection and exaggeration of their characters, with unerring accuracy and absolute fairness.

Humph.  I know my children “through and through.”  They’re practically perfect in every way.  So there.  But… maybe there are some imperfections somewhere in there.  Maybe their shortcomings are a little clouded by my adoration of them.  Maybe… maybe I could consider some outsider input.  Maybe I should try and sieve through that tactless remark about my child and see if didn’t actually come from nowhere.  Maybe this “insight” can allow me to see what I couldn’t see on my own and help me to lovingly train my child in becoming a more Christlike person.

He closes this hard-for-me-to-swallow chapter, stating:

Parents need help from others, from personal friends whom they can trust to speak with impartiality and kindness, or from the teachers of their children, in the beginning of a proper estimate and understanding of their children’s characteristics and needs.  The parent who does not realize this truth, and act on it, will never do as well as might be done for his or her child.  God has given the responsibility of the training of that child to the parent; but He has also laid on that parent the duty of learning, by the aid of all proper means, what are the child’s requirements, and how to meet them.

I love how he flat out states it is our responsibility as parents to train our children.  Not the school’s, not the Sunday school’s, not the youth group’s or marshal arts class’s, but our responsibility.  I also appreciate how he rounds it out by reminding us parents it is our job to educate ourselves to be the most quality parents we can be.  Many have gone before us.  There’s much to learn.  So much is out there at our disposal, we just have to make the choice to pursue further educating and informing ourselves for the sake of our children as our God-given responsibility.

This is my challenge for the week, and I challenge you to do it, too.  Ask a kind and trusted friend to help you see your children’s weakness so you may better parent them.  Also, look for a good parenting book that is like-minded in your convictions to help sharpen your parenting skills.  Might I suggest a certain book?

All Aboard! Hints on Child Training

Hints on Child Training: The Duty of Training Children

Scope and Limitations of Child Training

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Drought weights the trees, and from the farmhouse eaves
The locust, pulse-beat of the summer day,
Throbs; and the lane, that shambles under leaves
Limp with the heat–a league of rutty way –
Is lost in dust; and sultry scents of hay
Breathe from the panting meadows heaped with sheaves.

– from "The Rain-Crow" by Madison Cawein (1865 – 1914)

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