Parenting: A Child’s Faith

As soon as a child is capable of learning that his voice can be heard by his loving mother or his loving father in another room, he is capable of learning that his voice can be heard by a loving Father whom he has never seen; who is always within hearing, but never within sight; who is the loving Father to his father and mother, as well as of himself and of everybody else; who is able to do all things, and who is sure to do all things well.
-H Clay Trumbull

parenting a childs faith

Mr. Trumbull suggests that the first lesson is that a child is to have faith in God. An important distinction is made that this is different from having faith something else, say in prayer. He believes that faith should rest wholly and absolutely on God and God alone. For example, let us say that a child is told to have faith in prayer and that God can do all things. Then let us say a child prays for a certain so-and-so and receives it, his faith in prayer is then increased. But let us say a child prays for a certain so-and-so and does not receive it, what is of his faith then? Is the child left to question God? Mr. Trumbull believes the child’s faith was misplaced. Instead he urges parents to consider that faith be placed in God alone.

If, however, on the other hand, you plainly tell a child that God knows what is best for us better than we know for ourselves, and that, while God is glad to have us come to Him with all our wishes and all our troubles, we must leave it to God to decide just what He will give to us and do for us, the child is ready to accept this statement as the truth; and then his faith in God is not disturbed in the slightest degree by finding that God has decided to do differently from his request to God in prayer.

Since taking Jamie as my wife and now with the arrival of Eleanor Jean, God has continued to show me more and more about Himself. Praise God that He seeks to let us know Him! Throughout the Bible God shows us Himself. We learn what He is like, to the best of our ability. In Ephesians chapter five we learn that the marriage relationship is like Christ’s relationship with the church. All throughout the Bible we are shown that God is our Father in heaven and so we learn that the relationship between God and us is like that of a parent to a child. What is so interesting about all this to me is that when we consider advice from Mr. Trumbull on faith and on prayer we are considering advice on how to relate to God. How to trust and how to communicate. So in my estimation, inherent in this advice is how our children should relate to us and our responsibilities to them.

And so we receive a lesson in how we are to trust our heavenly father and place our faith in him and not in ourselves actually, as would be if we thought something of the sort “why, that this-or-that I prayed for didn’t come to, and after all I do know what is best for me. Who else would?”  When thought about and considered a bit, I think, placing faith in prayer is like placing faith in our own estimation of what is right for us. And so in this same lesson Mr. Trumbull gives to us an understanding of how a child ought to follow his parents in spirit, knowing that, as the old saying goes, “father knows best”.

My son, keep thy father’s commandment, And forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, And tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; When thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; And when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; And reproofs of instruction are the way of life: -Proverbs 6:20-23

-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.