Train a child up in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6
This is a much used and much abused scripture verse when it comes to parenting. Many parents hold onto it while raising their kids and think it means “If I teach him right from wrong, he’ll stay on the straight and narrow.” These same parents all too often find themselves wondering if maybe this was one of those bible verses which shouldn’t be taken too literally some years later. Sometimes it can be the source of a great deal of heartache. But there are several problems with the way this verse is often read.
First of all, there’s the “in the way that he should go” issue. I have written before about how our children come with their own personalities, needs and journeys to walk. Teaching kids right and wrong is a small part of parenting. It simply says “this is how people should behave.” That’s an entirely different issue than actually raising a kid. To raise a kid, we need to show them “here’s how to walk the path you will need to walk.”
The word “way” – Hebrew darkow – indicates a path or journey. When used in reference to God it indicates his way of doing things. We will each have our own way of doing what God requires of us. This is what we need to prepared for. Simply exhorting good behavior and punishing bad isn’t going to cut it, imo.
Secondly, it should be noted that the promise’s fulfillment is “when he is old”. Continue reading