Train up a child in they he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. - Proverbs 22:6 Think back to all the training you have had over the years, and all the trainers and their methods of training. Some are brilliant and quite experienced at it, while others are average and just get by.
Believing parents, especially new parents, take this verse very seriously but often still struggle with the application. All parents were new parents at some stage. Sometimes we went overboard, and other times too lenient, trying to find the balance between sufficient protection from the negative elements, giving them sufficient Word to keep them ‘in', but also allowing enough room for them to grow into a person in his or her own right — the person God wants to see as an adult. I expect all parents found difficulty executing this one verse without making mistakes and adjusting their methods accordingly.
Before we become parents, we find we are experts in knowing how to raise perfect children. When we become parents ourselves we understand the difficulties and patience involved, and the changes we as parents have to make to ourselves. I think the child/children teach us a bit at that stage.
When raising our children, this next verse is helpful. It was for us. Psalm 127:4-5, “As arrows in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate." When I first read the ‘quiver’ verse long before I became a parent, I imagined a typical bow and arrow target with all the rings and a bullseye. I remember thinking, “what does that bullseye represent for my child?” and how do I play out my responsibilities to get him there? First, I knew I had to model the behaviour I expected, which became quite difficult with me, and, at times, I found myself being trained by the child instead of doing the training. (Right here, I feel I need to state clearly that I was in prison when my child was born, so great was my behaviour😊) There is another verse that is either used too much or, in these modern days, challenged as being brutal and irrelevant, with some societies outlawing it in legislation. Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness (impiety / lack of reverence) is bound in the heart of a child: but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” I know Christian parents who have taken this too far and beaten the children half to death; thus creating rebellion where it wasn’t before, and children who despise their parents, leaving home at the earliest opportunity. As one person put it though, without the rod/stick, the child can become a fountain of foolish actions. Instead of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, we find folly and rebellion within the home, or a village idiot. This is not always true, but the last character quality believers want to raise is foolishness instead of the wisdom they thought they were raising. I find that if we have fed the children the right measure of the Word as they grow, and show patience with a little watering and love, sooner or later that Word takes root and the plant commences growing. Patience is the key, not verbally clobbering the child.
In Ephesians 6:4, Paul cautions us male parents, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Some parents can hammer incessantly at the child, quoting scriptures they themselves find hard to keep, but fathers particularly can provoke by a strong hand, growing an angry child with secret hatred. The Lord calls us to still admonish (reprimand) the child, but not unnecessarily beat them every time they do something wrong. Some men nurture their gardens, pets and friends better than their children. As parents, when our kids are young we can experience a joy in those children that can just about overcome any dilemma. Yet, on the other side of that joy is the grave but marvellous responsibility to get those arrows as on-course as we can. Then it’s up to them. But what about the child within us?
Are we training that up in the way it should go, or leaving it all to chance without vision or purpose and no bullseye?
The Lord has a great desire to see us all as wise fathers and mothers of the Word, able to provide counsel and wisdom, not only to our own children, but to other up-and-comers; showing them by our nature that the fruit of the Spirit is contained within. We show them by our humility and understanding that the Word has taken deep root within us, and has grown to be the great tree by the waterside (Psalm 1:1-3).
We don't find it easy to raise children or ourselves, but we have promises from God that He is beside us through it all, and understands that we don't always get it right the first time. "The steps of a good person are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in their way. Though they fall, they shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth them with His hand." (Psalm 37:23-24) Today’s prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for putting so much information in your Word from which I can learn. It is hard to raise myself let alone raise my children, but thank you that I can hold onto your promises. Please help me to create the vision for my children that you desire, even if I feel I have left it too late, or even if they are grown, please continually give me the wisdom needed to be a good parent.