Being HumanThe Christian Journey

Train Up a Child

Train up a children in the way they should go;even when they are old they will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6

This advice is older than psychology – much older.  And time has only proven it to be more true.

We know today that human development is heavily front loaded.  This means that the benefits of getting it right and the cost of getting it wrong early on in a child’s life are both magnified.  Withhold bonding, nurture, and trusting relationships from an infant and you are negatively shaping their life and who they will become.  Do the same thing with a twenty year old and they’ll adjust much better.  Deny the structure, socialization, identity development, and character development needed by a four-year-old and again – major life impact.  Subject a forty-year-old to the same treatment and it may not even ping on the radar.

So why am I writing this? 

This verse is a great source of both encouragement and challenge for parents.

Here is the challenge.  If you are ever going to put aside the pursuit of a “have-it-all-and-keep-it-balanced” life and prioritize your children and their development, the time to do that is when they are young – from infancy through about their fifth or sixth year.  That is when you get the best bang for your buck in parenting.  Few people today can push everything aside during those years to concentrate solely on their children, but all of us can push some things aside to prioritize them in their critical years.  If you’re really serious about this, get help from a supportive someone else in thinking about how you could do this.  We all have blind spots as well as self-defeating and self-limiting beliefs.

Now for the encouragement.  If you have made this investment in your children’s lives and down the road they seem like they’re going crazy, possibly in their teenage years, don’t despair!  This verse will likely play out in their life.  They will likely come back around to living a life that is reflective of the good things you put into them during their foundational years. 

I’ve never known any parent who paid the price for following the advice of this verse and regretted it. 

May it be a blessing in your life.

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