Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs. 22:6) This statement has been misunderstood and misquoted. The common interpretation of that verse goes something like this: Be sure your child is in Sunday school and church at an early age. Teach him a lot of Bible verses and hymns. Make sure he learns the Ten Commandments, a few prayers to be used at mealtimes, at bedtime, and in case of emergency. If possible, send him to a Christian school, see that he attends a Church camp during the school holidays and enforce your rules and regulations with unbending strictness.
Proverbs 22:6 begins with, “Train up a child”… It is suggested that the verse should literally be read, “Train up a child according to his way” (New American Standard Version). The Amplified Bible translates the verse “Train up a child in the way he should go (and in keeping with his individual gift or bent), and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Determine your priorities
Bringing up children is fulfilling if you can help them to fulfill their potential. If you stop to think carefully, the whole purpose of parenting and child-minding can actually be distilled into the objective of fulfilling the child’s potential. It is important to remember that we should not merely focus on helping children fulfill their academic potential. This is a problem with many Asian societies. It is important to know that a child has other non-academic qualities which are equally important in the development of Christian character.
Each child is unique – with his own talents, characteristics, traits, strengths, flaws and weaknesses. Coming from the same family, with the same set of parents, siblings can be alike in looks, temperament and behaviour. However, they can also be so different that they seem to have come from two different families. It is important for parents to take the time and make the effort to know their child’s character and ability.
God could have created each child to be the same as the next, but he chose not to. Parents who acknowledge and act on this fact that each child is created differently are wise. The Bible speaks often about the uniqueness and diversity of man. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7:7 that “every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that”. Romans 12:4-8 also deals with the varying gifts of people. Christ in the parable of the talents spoke about the people being dealt with “each according to his ability” (Matt. 25:15). And 1 Corinthians 12 provides a clear description of the variety of gifts of each individual.
To train a child is not simply providing information about God. Christian education is distinctive because it seeks to understand the child’s personality and gifts. You
nurture him by steering him toward God’s goal and plan for his life. You train not by rules, but by learning to know of your children’s abilities, characteristics, the good and the bad. Parents must assist a child’s talents, interests and the purposes for which he is suited, called or directed. Children have an intrinsic desire to know who they are, why they are doing and where they are going. For effective learning to take place, direction, purpose and goal should be clearly understood by the children.
Record your observations
If a child reveals his or her bents in everday life, those things are worth writing down. Keep a journal on each child. As you write, pray for wisdom. Ask God to guide your thoughts. Please remember, each child is unique. Parents should not compare and compete with their neighbour’s children.
God is not expecting any of your children to do like the others. He expects your children to do what He has equipped and provided. There was a man who was always complaining about his hens’ eggs. One day he took his hens over to the neighbour’s farms. There he showed his hens the big ostrich eggs and said, “I want you to see what the neighbours are doing, and I am expecting you to live up to it.” Isn’t that silly? God never expected a laying hen to lay an ostrich egg.
Share your findings
Children long to know themselves better. They respect your counsel, and will long remember your remarks. Be candid and honest as you help them see who they really are. Do not try to force your child to fulfill what was never fulfilled in your life. If you didn’t make into the professional football ranks, watch it, Your son may not even like the game. Wise parents will train their children according to the way God has put them together.
The task of training your child begins with you as a parent. If you are convinced that God wants only the very best for your children, talk to them about God’s way and plan for each one of your children. Parents can help children develop lasting values. God boldly communicates His values to us. In Jesus He comes and lives out those values, so we can see and follow Him. The Bible and the behavioural sciences agree that communicating values is more a matter of relationship than of providing information.
When parents build warm, loving relationships and share thoughts and feelings with their children, values are communicated, and lives are shaped. There is nothing you and I can do to “guarantee” how our children will turn out. Each human being has, and exercises the freedom of responsible choice. But when we pattern our parenting on God’s way of dealing with us we have confidence, and a promise. We can “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6). At each stage of the child’s development the parents are to dedicate, instruct, and motivate the child to do what God evidently has best equipped the child to do for Him.