For years I have heard teaching on the verse Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” But what does it really mean?
Most of the time the message heard from this verse is that if you raise your children properly, and later they rebel, you can be assured they will return. Too often however we forget that the verse is a Proverb (a general principle of wisdom) and not a promise. And at closer examination, there is much more to learn.
A professor of mine in graduate school wrote a very interesting and compelling article on this verse with a much broader take on the Wisdom Writer’s message. (See here.) In short the message is: train and prepare your children for adulthood, while celebrating their achievements along the way. In so doing you initiate them into their future roles. Through your encouragement and affirmation they will not depart from, but continue in their positions of honor.
Much could be expounded upon given the above understanding, but this article will focus on the idea of training and preparing your child for his or her future responsibilities. From training on wheels as children, to training on our jobs as adults we are all familiar with the concept. We learn a particular skill or behavior through instruction, practice, and repetition.
Zerrin and I decided early on, we would incorporate training in our efforts of child-rearing. We started by teaching our children how to meet and greet people they had never met before. We set up training exercises where I role-played a new person meeting the family and Zerrin would introduce our children to me. We taught them how to stretch out their hand to greet…to grasp the other’s hand firmly and shake three times…to look in their eyes, smile and say “nice to meet you sir.” We practiced again and again until they were trained well. Then we gave them opportunities to experience what they learned in real life. It was great preparation and much fun in the process.
We trained our children how to pray alone, and how to pray out loud for others. We taught them how to welcome others in to our home and love them. We trained them how to budget. We worked from an early age to teach and train them how to resolve conflict.
As parents, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of simply monitoring our kids and carting them around to their various activities. There is so much more! We must develop the mindset as parents that a very important part of our role is to train and raise up our children to be prepared for life in every way. We are their greatest mentors!
There are a 1001 areas in which we could train our children besides those mentioned above: how to organize; creating healthy study habits; where to find the best shopping deals; how to cook, wash clothes, clean house, mow the lawn, plant a garden, kill a spider, and unplug the toilet; automotive care 101; personal hygiene; how to love and respect one another; social skills such as good listening, joining in conversation, keeping good eye contact, and drawing people out; how to respect authorities such as teachers, police officers, and government officials; to appreciate the history of our country and our family. And this is only a start!
My children, your children, are amongst life’s greatest gifts. Love them fully. Train them well. Prepare them for their future. Be their mentor, and celebrate their achievements along the way. In so doing, you stand the greatest chance of setting the inclination of your children’s hearts to live out the best course imaginable for their lives!
Where have you sought to train your children? Leave a comment below: