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Bible Proverbs on Parenting: Train up a Child

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Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it (KJV, Proverbs 22:6). Many Christian parents have been left very disappointed in this scripture considered one of the many Bible proverbs on parenting. Why? Because many have trained up their children in the way they should go, but some of those children have departed from it. Some have gone in a totally opposite direction. Could it be that they will return to God when they are old? The truth is that some have died young and outside of fellowship with God though mom and/or dad followed Bible proverbs on parenting. Did the parents not truly train up a child in the way he should go? While this is the problem in a significant number of cases, this is not the answer to be given to all parents and guardians when no real answer is known. What went wrong with those who did train up a child in the right way? If this counsel is not reliable, what else in the Bible is not reliable? Sadly, this is the question that many of these people will end up asking themselves--and loose faith in God as they answer themselves.

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Bible proverbs on parenting is like study of any other book of the Bible; its scriptures cannot be understood without rightly dividing the word of truth, the Christian Bible. When Christian "leaders" are asked questions such as these for which they never have scriptural answers, it truly is shameful. A believer is instructed, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). One aspect of right division of the scriptures is consideration of ALL of what God's word says on a subject--Bible proverbs on parenting, for example. While focus can and sometimes should be on a single scripture; no scripture is an "island." When we are faced with a scripture or passage we don't understand, we should never forget the rest of what we do understand from God's word. Understanding of the counsel to train up a child in the way he should "so" he won't depart from it, will come into focus.

Train up a Child, But...


What is a child? Although he can be controlled through discipline and is influenced by training and environment, a child is a unique and completely separate individual from his parents. Even children who are controlled most of their life by their parents are unique and separate individuals. They simply don't exercise their God-given independence as adults. These people are almost always considered to be mentally immature, feeble-minded, and/or dysfunctional because instead of becoming independent by developing their own true identity, they continue to depend on the "identity" of the parent/s.

Remember, everyone is a unique identity regardless of who his parents are. What does the Christian Bible say about the various identities of people? Proverbs Bible studies reveals that the answers are found in the very same book in which counsel is given to train up a child in the way he should go--the book of Proverbs in which are found many Bible proverbs on parenting.

God's word teaches, "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly" (Proverbs 26:11). The apostle Peter himself commented on this very proverb, calling it "true." Now, if the proverb with the counsel to train up a child in the way he should go is true, so is the one about the dog returning to his vomit and the fool to his folly. This is right division of the word of God. Peter wrote, "But it happened unto them according to the TRUE proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (2 Peter 2:22). Keep in mind that Peter spoke of people who had been washed by the Lamb of God himself (2 Peter 2:21), yet they did not remain in the way, because of their true identity. Some of them were dogs and swine who would not be forcefully made, not even by God, into something they did not want to be. Are parents greater than God? Let's not forget that God is a parent; he is the Father who trains his children in the way they should go, but not all of his children remain in the way. Let's not forget that God has given both the parent and the child freedom to CHOOSE to obey or disobey him (Joshua 24:15). The fact that there are consequences to pay for disobedience to God does not take away anyone's God-given freedom to choose not to be obedient.

What else does God's word say about attempting to change the essence of a person by way of force? We read, "Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him" (Proverbs 27:22) The same scripture in the Living Bible Paraphrased reads, "You can't separate a rebel from his foolishness though you crush him to powder."

Some want to believe that every family problem can be solved by following Bible proverbs on parenting, such as the counsel to train up a child in the way he should go. It might be argued that the "dogs," the "swine," and the fools of which the scriptures speak, pertain to adults, not children. Let's remember, however, that God's word teaches, "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure and whether it be right" (Proverbs 20:11). Many wicked adults were wicked children and will live to be wicked senior citizens, but people chose to ignore their wickedness when they were children.


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