Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Gleanings from Mr. Trumbull

Mr. H. Clay Trumbull has written a delightful book of wisdom for parents (and, in this case, young high schoolers with creative reading assignments.) The book is written in the classy, proper style of 1800s literature which will leave you feeling very intelligent and well-read. ;)

It's indisputable fact (among Christians) that when God blesses a home with children, He entrusts the parents with a duty to raise these little souls into Godly manhood or womanhood. As a parent, it's what you do and don't do that molds the sacred life of this child. For these formative years, he's all yours. Daunting? I say yes.

The author covered many enlightening topics through the course of his book - many of which I greatly appreciated and agreed with, but in the first couple chapters, the most important of his theories emerged. The chapter on "A Child's Will."

Mr. Trumbull brought to light the difference between "breaking" and "training" the will of your child.
To break a child's will, is to make him do the right. "Immediate obedience or immediate consequences until you decide to listen." This may be all well and good, but ultimately, he is forced into choosing the good, whether he wants to or not. While, outwardly, your boy might obey in the most docile form of the word, inside, rebellion still reigns. (He just smothered it, to avoid being spanked.) In spite of our best intentions, the child learns to obey out of fear of punishment, not because he loves you, nor because"it's the "right thing to do."

In exact opposition to this theory, training a child's will is the biblical principal the God has always used with His children. Read Deuteronomy 30:15-20 very slowly.

15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;

16 In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;

18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.

Training the will is to "set before them" the good choice and the bad choice - with good consequences and bad ones, then step back and let them choose.

It starts out like this. You, busy and distracted, call out, "Tommy, please close the door." 

Tommy gets a stubborn gleam in his eye and crosses his arms, waiting for trouble.

You look at him give him his choices. "Tommy, you can choose to close the door, or you can choose to be punished."

Now it's up to Tommy. If he closes the door, he can go on his merry way. If he doesn't, you have to make good your promise and give him the expected punishment. You'd be surprised that most of the time, the child will make the wise choice and obey. Occasionally, he won't - then you have to give him his punishment, and leave him be. 

"But," you quaver, confused, "then I've lost and he's won! What kind of a lesson is that?" No, you haven't lost. You're a teacher - not a martial artist. You have to show him that there are always choices and always consequences that follow them. 

Someone won't be there for his whole life to force him into doing good - or spank him when he makes a poor decision. He needs to be able to take into account what he feels like doing, what he should do and the consequences for each - when he's five, when his seventeen, and when he's thirty.

Mr. Trumbull allows that, truly, there are times when a child's choice is to be overlooked - in the instance of Tommy being at the wrong place at the wrong time, walking into a harmful situation, or some other form or emergency.

I know that most of my blog visitors aren't at an age where this little book report would be incredibly interesting, but still  - as mothers of the next generation, there's nothing wrong with studying up a bit. Is there anything you'd like to share?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, I love reading books and texts about it! Family, marriage, training child...
This is the one of reasons I like reading your blog :)
And i'm just a young lady also , but it's very good to us!
God bless you Anna!
Sara S.