Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
For years I looked at Proverbs 22:6 as a promise from God. I believed if I taught my children the truths of the Word of God, they would turn out right and never rebel. I have known parents that have done just that, “Trained their children in the ways of God,” and yet, they rebelled! The Book of Proverbs is not a collection of promises or prophecies, but as the name suggests, a book of proverbs. Proverbs are the collected observations of the wise on the way the world operates. We must remember that by definition a proverb is a rule of conduct, a concise general truth, not a promise.
Why do we have the book of Proverbs and this particular verse, if it is not a promise? May I suggest that it is an encouragement to parents to take seriously their responsibilities towards the young, since (in general) the road they start out on is the one they will end up following. Early training and discipline is incredibly important and there are people who give praise to God for their parents godly example and instruction. But parents are seriously flawed by sin and if the child’s salvation depends on the parents ability to start them off right, then he or she is certainly doomed? God’s grace works in spite of our great sin and His mercies are new every morning. It is God that moves and works in the heart of a child and not the parents abilities to train or discipline the child. What the proverb does do is to hold us accountable for our responsibility to give our children training in the ways of the Lord. God has not guaranteed our success as parents, but He has given us a great responsibility to train our children to know Him.
The teen years are a time of transition between childhood and adulthood. It is a time when the child must decide or determine whether he or she will hold to the Faith of their parents or rebel. Parents should seek to maintain a biblical standard of conduct in the home to protect their child but not force their child into an external conformity or Christianity. When a child shows outward signs of rebellion, it may mean they are revealing an unconverted heart. Thank God for this rebellion even though it hurts, then pray they will realize that rebellion is a dead-end street. Remember, God is sovereign and He is in control even when a child is out of control. Don’t try to manipulate a child to get them to return to the Lord. As parents, release your child to the heavenly Father’s care, knowing that He is fully capable of bringing your son or daughter to repentance.
Rebellion is a choice and all children have a propensity to sin and rebel. You, as a parent, must understand that you are not held accountable to God for the sins of your children. “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4b). Parents will be held accountable for their own sins, including their sins in parenting, but they will not be held accountable for the sins of their children. Rebellion is our enemy and we need to know how to respond to it in everyday life. Realize that Christ is glorified when we trust Him in our trials, knowing He will use them for our good. When we worry or fret, it dishonors Christ because every situation comes through the loving and sovereign hands of God. When we become anxious we should confess it as sin and thank God for the trial, praying that God will give incomprehensible peace–––guarding the heart.
Ask yourself these questions:
Is God’s love evident in my life and in my home? Am I kind and patient or prideful and easily provoked?
Do I bring Christ into my home through natural sharing of what God is doing in my life? Do I read the Word and discuss it with my child (children)?
Am I too busy to spend time with my child (children)? Are other things more important?
Am I too much of an authoritarian? Teenagers need space to think for themselves and room to fail. They need to be respected as individuals. Parents can sometimes be overbearing, critical, and intolerant––––limiting communication and openness.
Are you seeking to portray a false sense of perfection? Are you trying to make it look like you don’t struggle with sin in your life? Do you think the young person in your home picks up on that kind of hypocrisy? Are you approachable?
Thought: We are instructed to deal with our own sin before we can see the sins of others around us (Matthew 7:1-5). If you’re a parent with a rebellious teenager, take to heart the things that have been said and seek forgiveness from your child for any wrong doing that you may have done. You are responsible for asking for forgiveness and modeling a forgiving spirit but not for how your child may respond. Allow God to transform you through the extremely hard times of your life. What better way for God to teach you as a mother His kind of love than to give you a child that is hard to love in the midst of pain and shameful behavior. This changing process will not be comfortable. It hurts to be broken and shaped and molded. God has never promised an easy road, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Commit to obedience and remember not to be controlled by passing feelings but abide in God’s Word daily–––proving to be a true disciple and bringing glory to God (John 15:8).
*Thoughts taken from the book, “Women Helping Women” by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Carol Cornish