I want to thank again all those who have responded to our request for blog topics. Here is a response to a question we were asked. The question: “What are the implications of this verse?” Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6.
Great question! And this is very topical in Melbourne and Australia generally at the moment. The discipline of children, particularly the question of smacking children, has been raised again and again. Recently a paediatrician in Melbourne called, once again, for smacking children to be outlawed. Emotions run high when this topic is raised, because we all think differently, and our children’s upbringing is very important to us.
Psychologists rightly point out to us how incredibly important our childhood and upbringing is. These are our formative years. A horrible childhood will affect us for the rest of our life. Growing up in a stable Christian family is an enormous blessing. Our proverb rightly points out that how we bring up our children will affect them for life – in this case for good.
No doubt one implication of this proverb is physical discipline. There are other proverbs that reflect this: “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24) Our society is repudiating such discipline more and more. Interestingly surveys still seem to show that most parents agree with smacking their children. Of course such parents don’t mean by this that we can abuse our children. This is discipline,
done out of love, for the sake of the child. We should never smack in anger. But whoever spares the rod hates his child (so says the proverb). I may be tempted as a child to watch TV, play video games, and eat lollies all day. Discipline will help me gain self-discipline later in life. Perhaps my Chinese friends were disciplined too strictly as children, in that they had almost no fun and only work. But their behaviour as adults seems to me to be exemplary. Their discipline as children has trained them well for adulthood. (No doubt of course we can give our children discipline and fun!)
An even more important implication of our proverb is training our children in the knowledge of God. The Shema of Deuteronomy 6:7 tells the Israelites to diligently teach God’s law to their children. Paul says in Ephesians 6:4 that parents (especially fathers here) are to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord. It is not the responsibility of Sunday school teachers or CRE teachers alone to bring up our children in the training and instruction of the Lord. That is the responsibility primarily of parents. We need to read the Bible with our children regularly and discuss it with them. There are lots of good tools for doing this: children’s Bibles, studies, etc.
Note the warning in Ephesians 6:4 as well not to exasperate our children. We need to listen to them and not to be too harsh with them.
I could keep writing, but I need to keep my blog pieces more brief! Bottom line… If you are a parent: what are you doing to bring up your children in the training and instruction of the Lord? Are you sparing the rod or disciplining them (however that is done)?
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