Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
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, (my word, I can’t even think of step one… God help me.) Perhaps, it is love the LORD… 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 in fact killed attempting to share the gospel with them. Elisabeth, with her newly born 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 raiser. 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 (what we leave) begins with inheritance (what the child gains), 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 anything 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 without control is not a good thing, it’s dangerous.
So 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.