Parenting: Self Denial

It is not that a child is to be denied what he wants, merely for the sake of the denial itself; but it is that a child ought not to have what he wants merely because he wants it.
-H Clay Trumbull

let go of self

Mr. Trumbull suggests here that things in the 1890’s were getting out of control. That children were receiving too much in the way of indulgences. The quantity of presents was too many in these days, he held. Interesting. I can not help be imagine how many more presents a child receives in a year now than then. Mr. Trumbull suggests this is quite harmful to a child who needs to learn self denial. A most important characteristic for a christian I agree. Self denial is at the core of self control, a topic that is elemental in this study of Mr. Trumbull’s book, Hints on Child Training and that we lead off with in this study. Mr. Trumbull goes on to suggest that,

It is every parent’s duty to deny a child many things which he wants; to teach him that he must get along without a great many things which seem very desirable; to train him to self-denial and endurance, at the table, in the playroom, with companions, and away from them; and the doing of this duty by the parent brings a sure advantage to the child.

Without self denial, or from the parents perspective plain denial, a child, Mr. Trumbull explains is at a great disadvantage of happiness,

The average child of the present generation receives more presents and more indulgences from his parents in any one year of his life than the average child of a generation ago received in all the years of his childhood. Because of this new standard, the child of today expects new things, as a matter of course; he asks for them, in the belief that he will receive them. In Consequence of their abundance, he sets a smaller value upon them severally. It is not possible that he should think as highly of any one new thing, out of a hundred coming to him in rapid succession, as he would of the only gift of an entire year.

And so we come to the takeaway: a practical, here is a way to do it, piece of advice for parents who desire a child to understand self control. Denial. Interesting. Also I find interesting how core self denial is in being Christian. We are often referred to as Christ followers and as Jesus puts it self denial is the very first step. Luke 9:23-24 reads:

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

A small divergent on this concept of taking up your cross daily. Often I hear this referred to as a sort of burden “this is my cross to bear” and so forth. Though I have come to believe it quite the opposite. In the days of Jesus, it is my estimation, if you saw someone walking around with their cross it meant one thing. They were on their way to die. Their life was coming to an end. This mindset accompanied with Jesus’ command to deny yourself I think is an important one to consider. So much of what keeps us from following Christ is being wrapped up in our self; but I like my sin and so forth. James 1:18-20 shows us clearly that selfishness is the beginning of sin. But in this case, someone who had taken up his cross, their mind I imagine would be so far from the worries of this world, which so often are wrapped up in self. Worrying about the distant future or the distant past is often a case of being consumed with self. So in turn this idea of denying self is quite freeing and peaceful. One of great mysteries of life if this concept of letting go something you care so much about. Our nature screams hold on tight that money, that preference, etc. but God says let go my first fruits and your vats will overflow. Much the same I believe is this concept of freeing yourself from being consumed with self. Letting go of self, not a burden but a measure of true freedom and peace on earth.


-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.