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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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In chapter three of “Hints on Child Training,” Trumbull really starts to reveal the weight of responsibilities we, as parents, are privileged to carry as we raise our children.

First, he clarifies that we can train a child in the way s/he can go to his/her fullest extent, but we can’t train a child according to another’s capabilities.  We must keep in mind that some children are hindered with specific limitations that others might not have to struggle through, like blindness, learning disabilities, or physical limitations. However, Trumbull states, “the range is wide within the limitations of possible results from the training process.”

He continues:

A nervous temperament, cannot, it is true, be trained into a phlegmatic one or a phlegmatic temperament be trained into a nervous one; but a child who is quick and impulsive can be trained into moderation and carefulness of speech and of action, while a child who is sluggish and inactive can be trained rapidity of movement and to energy of endeavor….

The sure limitations of a child’s possibilities of training are obvious to a parent.  If one of the physical senses be lacking to the child, no training will restore that sense, although wise training will enable the child to overcome many of the difficulties that meet him as a consequence of his native lack…

In other words, if the child be grievously deformed or defective at birth, or by some early casualty, there is an inevitable limitation accordingly to the possibilities of his training.  But if a child be in possession of an ordinary measure of faculties and capacity, his training will decide the manner and method and extent and the use of his God-given powers.

It is, therefore, largely a child’s training that settles the question whether a child is graceful or awkward in his personal movements… whether he is faithful in his studies, or is neglectful of them…  In all these things his course indicates what his training has been; or it suggests the training that he needed, but has missed.

These are incredibly sobering points.  I think he’s placing the responsibility we, as parents have always held but sometimes never knew it.  Our society makes it easy for us to relinquish our role as trainer to our children in the name of “self expression,” and “phases.”  We don’t stop our children from throwing fits because we don’t want them to “stuff their emotions,” so we leave them alone to their own out-of-control demise and ignore them until they’re “over it” (or until the next time they hit another wave of intense emotion they don’t know how to handle), just as the parenting books say to do.  Instead, the temper tantrum was an ideal time to lovingly intervene and guide the child through their emotions while informing and enforcing what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.  If we leave them to their own devices and let them sort it out for themselves never having guided them through a similar situation, their growth will be tragically stunted.

We, as parents, must reclaim our role in our children’s lives.  Despite what we are fed through the airwaves and this culture, we hold a lot of control over our children.  We also love them more than anyone but the Lord.  We must marry our love for them and desire for them to thrive with necessary discipline and training that will accomplish a rich, strong, influential life for them.  “TRAIN a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (Emphasis added.)

All Aboard! Hints on Child Training

Hints on Child Training: The Duty of Training Children
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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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