Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6 AMP.
As many people know, parenting takes a lot of work and is not as easy a task as one could wish. There are many parents who wished their children turn out in a certain way, but do not give them the training required. You see, children are children and do not have as much wisdom and knowledge as their parents do; their minds are young, tender and quite impressionable. But they will grow up to become adults, and so parents want to be sure that they have a strong foundation laid in their children’s lives – the most important layer of that foundation being the knowledge of God.
A lot of things happen to children while they’re growing up, especially in the volatile teenage or young adult years; they experience a lot of mental, bodily and environmental changes. They meet new friends, leave old ones behind, live in or go to different places, catch new habits and forget old ones; but in all these things the only thing that will stabilize them and keep them focused on the real purpose of life is the knowledge of God – it is a rock upon which their lives and destinies can be built for maximum impact in the society.
This beautiful verse (Proverbs 22:6) has been used by some to place guilt upon parents whose teenagers or adult children are not walking in the ways of God, suggesting that the parents failed to work hard enough to train them up. It also has been used by well-meaning folks to give assurance to parents that their ungodly children will return to a godly lifestyle at some point in their lives. However, one needs to understand the book of Proverbs is “wisdom literature” and, more specifically, lessons that flowed from the abundance of wisdom the Lord gave to Solomon (See 1 Kings 3:9-28).
Generally, the book of Proverbs contains general truths and insights for living profitably, but also has quite a handful of promises from God buttressing the importance of making decisions that promise long-term benefits. The general truth contained in Proverbs 22:6 is that if parents work hard to train their children to live a godly lifestyle, then chances are high that the children will remain in those godly paths throughout their lives. There are godly and great people in the society today that climbed their way up to greatness based on the trainings they received from their parents or someone who fit into that role (in the case of parental negligence, abuse or absence). Sadly, most parents settle with just providing basic needs for their children such as feeding, clothing, sheltering and education, but training involves more than just these necessities.
The training Proverbs 22:6 speaks about is beyond more than just academic training; it is going the extra mile to instill into children’s lives the love, knowledge and fear of God, and other qualities such respect for people, punctuality, cleanliness, discipline and obedience to instructions. It also includes living out our lives in front of our children, becoming the first examples of whatever we want to see in them. It includes giving children practice and correction to help them learn the godly lifestyle and the many blessings it brings; and yes, this requires dedication on the part of parents. In fact, the whole focus of this Bible verse is on the parent, not the child.