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I feel the need to throw a disclaimer out.  Upon first reading this book, I wrestled with lots of feelings.  After waves of indigence, bits of anger, and hints of offense, I mostly felt ashamed and disqualified as a parent.  But after all the fighting, I realized what he wrote was a very hard-to-swallow truth.  Trumbull does dish it out quite forthrightly, but it was my own insecurities getting in the way of a potentially life-changing experience.  I don’t claim to have it all together in the least, but I do pray that through this book and some “discussion” with y’all that I might grow and mature in my “child training.”

Continuing into chapter two of “Hints on Child Training,” (if you want to read the first post, click here), Trumbull dives right into it:

It is the mistake of many parents to suppose that their chief duty is in loving and counseling their children, rather than in loving and training them; that they are faithfully to show their children what they ought to do, rather than to make them do it.  The training power of the parent is, as a rule, sadly undervalued.

Too many parents seem to take it for granted that because their children are by nature very timid and retiring, or very bold or forward; very extravagant in speech and manner, or quite disinclined to express even a dutiful sense of gratitude and trust; reckless in their generosity, or pitiably selfish; disposed to overstudy, or given wholly to play; one-sided in this, or in that, or in the other, trait or quality or characteristic — therefore those children must remain so; unless, indeed, they outgrow their faults or are induced by wise counsel and loving entreaty to overcome them…

…Every child is in a sense a partially developed, an imperfectly formed child.  There are no absolutely perfect children in this world.  All of them need restraining in some things and stimulating in others.  And every imperfect child can be helped toward a symmetrical character by wise Christian training.  Every home should be an institution for the treatment of imperfectly developed children.  Every father and every mother should be a skilled physician in charge of such an institution.  There are glorious possibilities in this direction; and there are weighty responsibilities, also.


Keep in mind this book was written in 1890.  The words “institution” and “treatment” were not how they’re viewed today.  It sounds like such a sterile, rigid environment he’s suggesting to raise children in, but he really isn’t.  Lots of warmth flood into the next chapters, but do continue to keep in mind that this book was penned over 100 years ago, and certain words have taken on new meanings and vibes sense then.

This chapter helped me realize I fall prey to this “hands tied” attitude of parenting all the time.  My daughter would be bossing a group of kids around at a play date or something, and I would just sit back and chuckle, “What can I say?  She’s a leader.  Hopefully she’ll grow out of this bossy phase someday.”  But really, it was my job to get involved in that situation right then and there and lovingly train her how to behave appropriately with her friends.  Perhaps she is a leader, but no one will want to follow her if her parents never hone her skills.  Besides, I’d rather the correction be coming from me than a child or someone else who doesn’t love her as much and know her as well as I do.
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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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