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If you are a parent, you realize the enormous responsibility of raising a child. We usually think of taking care of our children physically, but we also have a responsibility of nurturing them emotionally and spiritually. You take a test in order to earn a driver’s license; however, there is no required preparation for raising a child. The Bible provides the necessary instruction for the spiritual development of children.

A foundational verse for parents is found in Proverbs 22:6:

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

The word “train” was the word used to dedicate a house or a temple. The etymology of this Hebrew word conveys the idea to make narrow and figuratively it means to initiate or discipline. Child training therefore involves narrowing a child’s interests and behavior to the way he should go.

The literal translation of “the way he should go,” indicates according to the child’s God-given characteristics or bent. This necessitates knowing your child and adapting your training to the God given nature of your child. The Hebrew word for “way” conveys the idea of one’s manner, way, or characteristics. We see this use later on in the book of Proverbs,

There are three things which are too wonderful for me, four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the middle of the sea, and the way of a man with a maid. – Proverbs 30:18-19

As you train your child according to his way, this does not exclude incorporating the way of Godliness for your child. The Apostle Paul gives us this admonition,

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4.

The word “discipline” denotes the whole training and education of children, specifically the cultivation of their mind and morals. The word “instruction” literally means to put into one’s mind. The emphasis of this word is to correct the mind, to put right what is wrong, and to improve one’s spiritual attitude. This type of training involves encouragement, admonition, and reproof.

This verse does not teach psychological determinism, that is, if a parent follows a specific training regimen that the children will turn out a certain way. Proverbs teach a general truth that are usually true; however, exceptions may be noted. A negative childhood does not predestine one to adult problems and a positive childhood does not predict a blissful adulthood. God’s children, Adam and Eve, had an ideal environment and they still went astray.

As parents, we have a responsibility to train up our children while realizing that our children will make their own choices. Our duty is to train our children according to the way that they should go and entrust them to God.

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