Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.
This verse from Proverbs seems quaint in light of today’s world…and more than a little inappropriate, as it is almost as if it is encouraging us to train our children the way we would train like a dog.
As parents we know that children cannot be trained as much as guided and taught.
We teach our children through our words and our example…just as we have been taught by our parents and others around us as we grew up…and even now that we are grown, the learning continues.
That said this verse offers wise words, if we look at it the right way…but wait…what IS the ‘right ‘ way to look at it?
We could look at this proverb as an admonition to give guidance to our children, to ensure that they follow a good path in life, by doing and believing everything we do and believe; or we could see this passage as a call to show strict discipline to our children…but still we are left with the question of what is ‘right’?
To be honest, what is ‘right’ for myself and my daughter, may not be ‘right’ someone else and their children, although I have learned a lot from the experience and advice of others, and have benefited from the support of others (even those who are not parents themselves).
In fact although we all want the best for our children what is ‘right’ for us may not be ‘right’ for them; as we all have different points of view and different beliefs…and this is a good thing, as we can all learn from each other’s differences as well as sharing similar ideas and beliefs.
However, there are some truths that we can teach our children; truths that will help them to find out what is ‘right’ for them…for instance we can teach them the truth that we are always surrounded by the love of God, and that it is important to show compassion and respect for others (and ourselves) as we are all part of the same family (whether it be the human family or God’s family). We can teach them the value of finding common ground and reconciliation with those who we find ourselves in conflict with, whether they are strangers, rivals, or loved ones.
We can teach them the value of suffering, in that it can make us stronger and more open to accepting the support of others…and it can help us to be more understanding and helpful to others who are struggling.
We can also teach them the value of joy, of just letting loose and enjoying the gift of life, as we were not given this gift to only endure it, but to celebrate all of its amazing possibilities, like love, friendship and happiness…like the incredible experience of being a parent!
As their parents we can teach them to how to keep an open mind so that they can use their faith and their values as a guide to all they do in their lives…and that faith and values should not be inflexible but to keep an open mind to change and growth, as what is ‘right’ for them today, may not be ‘right’ for them when they are older.
Living in the light of the risen Christ…together…we are empowered to teach and guide our children, to train them to keep an open mind and to seek out what is ‘right’ for them…the ‘right’ way for them to live their lives, and the ‘right’ way for them to have a faith that works and gives them the tools they need to help them face a world that is in constant change, by holding fast the truth of God’s love that transcends whatever differences we may have.
Let us Pray:
God, thank you that we live in the midst of your grace; and for giving us Christ as a light of your love which transcends all of our differences as the one truth which remains steadfast in our ever-changing world. Please help us to share this truth, so that the light of faith shines brightly in our lives, and can be used as a beacon to others…especially our children, as we guide them as they grow. Let us remember that what is ‘right’ for us may not always work for them, and to simply rejoice in their learning and coming to find a faith that works for them; remembering that faith does not stand still, but is always growing as we travel the road of life together…in your grace.