As a young married couple contemplating the start of our family, I remember the idealistic views we had on parenting. It makes me smile and chuckle when I think how completely naive we were. In my mind I saw perfectly behaved children who were just like me, high achievers and goal setters. I wanted for them a life of ease complete with college scholarships, successful careers, and their own perfect little families.
Train up a Child…
As life has happened to my family, the vision of my future has not come to fruition. We have had our struggles, and the death of my husband has put into perspective the things that I really value. The ‘perfect’ life I envisioned would not have provided us the growth that trials and difficulties are teaching us. I have learned that life is a growing process. One that takes time and experience.
There is a proverb that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he’s old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
As parents, we are obligated to teach our children right from wrong and to instill in them morals and values. Despite the faithful teaching that many parents do, children often stray from what they have been taught. Grief and sorrow come to parents, as they watch their children turn away from things that they hold dear. I think it is important to note that the proverb says, ‘When he is old’ not when he’s young. Principles and morals that we teach our children will eventually in combination with their life experiences help them return to us, realize, and internalize truth.
Every person on this earth has the ability to choose the path they wish to follow. As parents we would like to choose that that for our children; however, that is contrary to God’s plan for us.
Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. – Psalms 25:12
Train up a Child…
God knows that is by choosing that we grow in faith and gain our own realization of truth. When our children are young we make most of their choices for them. As they age into their teenage years, gradually we have to relinquish that control and allow them to choose more and more for themselves. This is a scary time for parents, especially when we see them wanting to make choices that we know will not bring them happiness. We may want to step back in and take control; however, to do so often prevents our children from learning that valuable experiences. Sometimes we can be so reluctant to relinquish the reins that we actually cripple our children and their ability to make choices. How much better it is for children to make poor choices and suffer the consequences while young and still living under our direction, than it is for them to make those for first wrong choices completely independent of us.
Parenting in this way takes trust and faith in God. If we faithfully ‘train up a child’ according to principles of righteousness, then He has promised that eventually they will return to those teachings. They may have to travel a hard road for a while to gain experience, but they like the prodigal son will eventually ‘come to themselves’ and return to the home and teachings they knew. We like the father must wait in love for God to aid them in that correction, and when they return, we must welcome them with open arms. In this process of schooling our children, God also schools us. We come to understand how he feels as we are disobedient. We come to learn how He loves us despite our mistakes, and we come to learn how to love unconditionally and welcome with open arms.
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