By Mike Riley
The instruction in Proverbs 22:6 to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”, is a difficult saying for most parents, because we feel we have failed our children in so many ways. “Training” is more than teaching. The word may be defined, “to mold character, instruct by exercise, drill, to make obedient to orders, to put or point in an exact direction, to prepare for a contest.” All parents are training their children in one way or another. In this article, let us briefly look at some of God’s instructions in training up a child:
1) Apply The Rod Of Correction
Regarding children, the Proverb writer tells us that “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). This is not the rod of abuse, but of correction. An abused child will suffer great trauma, but children will not resent being properly corrected.
2) Discipline Promptly
Once again, the Proverb writer declares, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24 – NKJV). A parent does not love his child if he fails to apply the rod of correction when it is needed. He goes on to say, “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell” (Proverbs 23:13-14). “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give you delight to your soul” (Proverbs 29:17).
3) Begin Training Early On In Life
“Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction” (Proverbs 19:28). How many lives have been ruined because parents have waited too long to discipline their children?
If children are allowed to be disobedient when they are small, it will be too late to train them later In the New Testament, Paul admonishes, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The word “Fathers” often occurs in Greek literature to mean “parents” (Compare Hebrews 11:23). Both father and mother have a part in raising their children (1 Timothy 2:15, 1 Timothy 5:14; 2 Timothy 1:5; Titus 2:3-5).
In a negative sense, parents are told, “do not provoke your children to wrath.” This could be translated “frustrate” or “irritate.” A parallel passage adds, “lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). One survey of junior high young people revealed the following ways that parents commonly “frustrate” their children: (1) An automatic “No” to almost anything asked; (2) Parents inconsistencies or partiality in dealing with all the children in the home; (3) Poor communication, i.e. “My parents don’t listen to me.”
Parents must not be too overbearing or expect the absurd, but allow their children to be children. Otherwise, they will become angry and rebel or become so discouraged they quit trying and destroy themselves. What is needed? To positively, “nurture them” (Ephesians 6:4 – ASV). This “nurturing” involves providing for our children the food and nourishment necessary to grow not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well. Only parents can provide this kind of care and environment for their children. Like tending a garden, weeds need to be removed that would choke out good growth and stimulation applied for healthy growth. Hence, the need for “the training and admonition of the Lord.”
We miserably fail our children if we do not teach them God’s word and discipline them accordingly. (See Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Deuteronomy 32:46; Proverbs 22:6,15; Hebrews 12:6-11). Only this kind of nurturing will allow children to develop and mature into responsible, productive and fulfilled men and women of God.