(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NASB)
The material in this section has to do with the nature of parenthood. We have stressed thus far the fact that successful parenthood will be the reward of parents who are (1) at peace with themselves; and (2) happy, congenial partners. This section, like the first two sections, will draw upon the Bible for the path to follow.
Parenthood is the process of making disciples of your children. As Jesus walked this earth, He selected a dozen men, saying, “Follow me” (Matthew 10:1; compare 4:19). Before He went to the cross, He prayed:
“…for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. … As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:8, 18).
As you study the Gospels, you realize that each of the disciples was an individual. Yet each one was given the same holy standard for daily living–the standard of the Lord Jesus.
In writing to the Philippians, Paul says: “…but one thing I do: … I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14). He goes on to say: “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). Thus he takes upon himself the responsibility of being a living example.
Parents, too, should live as Paul did–striving for the same high calling. Fortunate is the child whose parents give him such a living example that he can safely follow in their footsteps. Fortunate is the child who has parents each of whom can say to him, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
The realization that your children could turn out to be the kind of persons that you are ought to be a satisfying one. (Study Luke 6:40 and 1 Corinthians 11:1).
Parents should teach their children by example and by words as the Lord Jesus did and as Paul did. Parents ought to be living models for their children. As someone has said, “The best way to teach character is to have it around the house.”
Such parents can then go on to practice the directive in the Bible which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
When you go to school and study under a certain teacher, you follow him as your guide. He sets the way that you should go; and you become, in lesser or greater measure, his disciple. You learn from his information and absorb his basic philosophy. You may even acquire his physical mannerisms. Likewise, as parents, you should realize that your big job is to help your children go in the right direction.
It is obvious that before you can help a child go where he should go, you must know where he should go. You must be convinced that what you ask your children to do is worth doing. If you are not sure in your own mind that the thing you ask your child to do is worthwhile, you had better not ask him to do it. Somehow your children can sense insincerity and uncertainty in your eye or your gesture if they are there. It is easy to tell your son to be kind to your daughter if you are kind to your partner. You need to be practicing what you want your children to practice.