Proverbs 22:6 says; “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Really?)
Sure sounds like good advice – after all who could find fault with that. My children were both raised out of the church, having been baptized as Methodists at the ages of 13 and 14 respectively. Like most parents with adolescent children we’ve had our share of trials. We’ve occasionally wondered at how much more peaceful it could have been for the four of us if we had raised our children in the ways of God from an early age. But I wonder if things would have been too much different.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that our whole family is now much better off spiritually, physically and psychologically since we have Christ in our lives. Who wouldn’t be? But does religious life in general prove this Proverbial maxim?
I have friends with great faith and they and their spouses have done wonderful jobs in creating homes that are full of the joy of the Gospels. They have been diligent in instilling that combination of fear of, and love for, God that most Christian authorities (at least the ones on the radio) say is essential for their spiritual well being. This way also has included fair doses of corporal punishment (also touted on the radio quite a bit). However, more than a few of these friends have experienced the same troubles with their teenagers that secular parents have had to contend with; alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, pregnancy, rebelliousness…
Should we expect any different, really? Many of my friends have expressed frustration; where did they go wrong? It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. But look at the stories in the Bible and we can see that it didn’t always work for those folk either. Take David for instance; a great leader of his people and a man totally devoted to the Lord. He certainly was raised to be a good Jew and I am sure that God was no stranger to his family’s household. Yet he became an adulterer and murderer.
I think that where the Bible really comes in handy as we raise our children is in how we learn to forgive. As for me, forgiveness is so closely tied to repentance. Not my children’s repentance, but mine. Because it is when I remember the things that I did when I was their age is when I can most easily forgive them….for driving me nuts!