Building healthy, responsible children
Building healthy, responsible children
Joy Lucius
Joy Lucius
AFA Journal staff writer

Part 1 of 2

May 2020Mother’s Day articles tend to be sweet pieces on the nobility and sanctity of motherhood, but not this one. AFA Journal spoke with Dr. Den A. Trumbull, co-founder and past president of American College of Pediatricians, in hopes of offering mothers (and fathers) practical, Christ-centered parenting advice.

In his book, Loving by Leading: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy and Responsible Children, Dr. Trumbull examines the current trend of parents following rather than leading their sons and daughters through childhood.

Leading not following
“Even though I am a Christian,” Trumbull told AFAJ, “I wrote this book for believers and nonbelievers alike, and it was born out of very real concerns.

“One particular concern involves well-meaning parents who are in constant pursuit of making their child happy. That sounds like a loving, thoughtful approach to parenting, but research proves otherwise.”

In contrast, Trumbull seeks to help parents successfully lead children into productive adulthood. Accordingly, he first examines the true nature of a child, a child’s deep need for discipline, and the importance of family.

Then, Trumbull discusses pros and cons of various parenting styles: authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritative. Finally, he suggests useful methods of authoritative parenting.

“Parents often mistakenly make behavior their primary focus,” he explained. “Don’t simply focus on what a child does. Look beyond the action and into the heart. And don’t overlook a child’s need for clear direction and consistent affirmation.”

Making disciples
Trumbull also reminds parents that discipline and disciple both come from the same Latin word root, disciplus. Therefore, authoritative parents should view discipline as making conscientious disciples of their children. And discipleship requires modeling.

But how can parents realistically model and apply discipline? It begins with conscience building versus conscience busting. Here are some examples.

Conscience building requires parents to:
Always be truthful.
Demonstrate patience with others.
Treat spouses with respect.

While helping their child to:
Control impulsive, selfish behavior.
Stop any bullying behavior toward others.
Politely respect the property of others.

Conscience busting, in direct contrast, results when parents:
Ask children to tell convenient “white lies.”
Are highly critical of others behind their backs.
Mistreat their spouse verbally and/or physically.

While ignoring and/or failing to apply discipline when their child:
Demonstrates impulsiveness.
Mistreats others.
Grabs/plays with the toys/property of others without asking.

Of course, age factors into every aspect of parenting. So, Trumbull offers a three-pronged approach to leading children from birth through pre-adolescence: instruct, affirm, and correct. Loving by Leading lays out age-appropriate suggestions for all three parenting components.

As Trumbull so aptly concludes, “If you invest in your children while they are young, you will enjoy the fruits of your labor when they are grown.”

Next month, in recognition of Father’s Day, AFA Journal continues the discussion with Dr. Trumbull as he outlines the different parenting tendencies of mothers compared to those of fathers.

These differences can cause friction between parents and disharmony in the home. But Trumbull will examine the complementing value of differing tendencies and offer a solid, balanced approach to lovingly lead children toward healthy, responsible adulthood.   

Find out more
In an age of instant information, parents hear a variety of voices, many of which are not grounded in Scripture, reality, research, or reason. Dr. Den A. Trumbull utilized those necessary elements plus years of experience as a pediatrician and a parent of five adult children to write Loving by Leading: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy and Responsible Children. Find it at online and retail bookstores, or go to for more information.