The truth about building healthy children
The truth about building healthy children
Joy Lucius
Joy Lucius
AFA Journal staff writer

June 2020According to C. S. Lewis, “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth.”

Lewis’s statement is a timely one for parents, for perhaps no task on earth is more daunting or equally rewarding. Sadly, the most difficult part of raising children can be discerning godly truth amid the many diverse voices offering parenting advice in our world.

In his book, Loving by Leading: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy and Responsible Children, Dr. Den A. Trumbull offers a voice of truth garnered from over three decades as a pediatrician. In honor of Father’s Day, AFA Journal continues a discussion with Dr. Trumbull on balanced ways parents can lovingly lead their children toward adulthood. (See AFA Journal, 5/20 for Part 1.)

Opposites not opposition
“Marriage tends to attract opposite personalities,” Trumbull told AFAJ, “and this is good since the differences between husband and wife often complement each other.”

He outlined complementary tendencies mothers and fathers often demonstrate when raising children:

 Fathers tend to be firmer disciplinarians; moms are stronger on nurturing.
 Fathers tend to push children to try new experiences; moms tend to protect.
 Mothers tend to manage the family schedule better; dads are more spontaneous.
 Mothers tend to encourage conversation and draw out a child’s emotions; dads seek facts and solutions.
 Mothers tend to point out beauty in the world; dads often focus on

“While these tendencies may be reversed in some marriages,” added Trumbull, “they each tend to supplement the other, helping fathers and mothers parent better as a team. Their children, in turn, benefit as these tendencies give balance to the parenting approach.”

Trumbull pointed out that mothers tend to impose limits and discipline more frequently but with greater flexibility. Conversely, fathers tend to discipline less frequently but more predictably, meaning children are often more likely to comply. Working together, both approaches create a solid plan of discipline.

Fathers are also more spontaneous in play, often supervising playtime rather than intervening, allowing children to explore and take risks during play. But when playing with their children, mothers tend to emphasize interaction, predictability, and joint problem-solving.

Yet, risk-taking, exploring, interacting, problem-solving are all life skills children need to navigate life successfully. Therefore, parental teamwork is crucial.

Character and competence
Since it is vital for both parents to share the same goals for their children, Trumbull identified character and competence as two of the most important aims of child development.

“Character is related to accountability, control of impulses, and persistence in the face of obstacles,” explained Trumbull. “Self-control, honesty, patience, trustworthiness, and humility are desirable character qualities parents should seek to help their children develop.”

Trumbull described competence as the acquired capability to obtain one’s desired personal and social goals in life. Personal qualities that help a child achieve competence include respect for others, respect for authority, kindness, industriousness, confidence, and a sense of humor.

Together, character and competence will produce what Trumbull termed genuine behavior, rather than temporary performances designed to momentarily please parents.

“Genuine behavior,” Trumbull assured parents, “will flow from a child’s heart that is rightly oriented and considerate of others. This is the kind of behavior that is lasting.”  

Learn a little more
▶ Loving by Leading: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy and Responsible Children is available online and at retail bookstores.

▶ Learn more from Dr. Den Trumbull at

▶ John Rosemond’s Parenting Set provides the conservative expert’s insights on all aspects of parenting in this Cultural Institute Series (four DVDs) produced by American Family Studios. Available at or 877.927.4917.