“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NKJV)
I don’t think there is a proverb that I have considered more over the years than this one. Perhaps it is because when you first become a father, you feel so ill-equipped. Children are not born with instruction manuals. If there is a factory defect, you cannot return it! The thought that it is your responsibility to shape this child for the future is sometimes overwhelming. Where do you turn for help?
The fact that boys are different from girls, and each child is unique, doesn’t help the problem. If you come up with a formula for child-rearing with your first child, then you must begin again with your second child. One child is compliant; another is strong-willed. One likes sports, another likes music. Discovering your children’s “bent” and then helping them achieve their greatest potential is a great challenge.
We know that Solomon had a thousand wives. We don’t know how many children he had. But I’m sure he thought a lot about how to impart wisdom to them. What did he conclude?
“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NLT)
It is up to us parents (and to some extent grandparents) to direct our children onto the right path. This means spending time with them, instructing them in knowing right from wrong. We must understand their world and equip them with the tools they need to make the right decisions. We must teach them that God and His commandments are important and model this for them. We must conduct ourselves at home the same way we do at church, avoiding the pitfalls of hypocrisy. We must teach them the Word of God and pray with them. We must patiently show them how to do stuff. This is a never-ending job, but it is also a most fulfilling job.
I will say that at this stage of our lives, there are few things that bring Cindy and me more pleasure than watching our children and grandchildren. We are proud that Justin and Ali, along with their spouses, have chosen to serve the Lord and train their children in the way of the Lord.
If we can all keep this as our chief priority, then there is hope for our families and for our nation.