Term 4 is always a busy term with Higher School Certificate examinations, graduations and yearly exams and reports. Sometimes it seems all we can do as families (and teachers) is just to keep swimming and hope we keep our heads above water! But as parents (and teachers!) we need to also make sure we don’t lose sight of the responsibility to be training and nurturing the children in our care as they grow toward maturity.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Why do we need training in doing what is right?
All of us, including children, are born with a natural bias towards doing what is wrong. You only need to observe a small child exploring the boundaries of what they can get away with to understand and witness this reality! The Bible calls this natural tendency “sinfulness”. As parents we may not be able to tell what our child will be like when they are older—tall or short, academic or one who struggles in their learning, athletic or unfit. But we do know that all of us, no matter our age, have sinful hearts.
In Proverbs 22:6 we are encouraged as parents to train our children to trust and obey God, because the Bible recognises that none of us, left to their own devices, will naturally choose this. Doing what is right is hard work, and it requires practice! And if it is hard for adults to choose the right way (and we know that it is), how much harder for children, who are still learning about themselves and the world? We need to deal wisely with our children and show kindness to them by not leaving them to their own guidance.
So often in our modern age, children are left to make decisions for themselves and are not being trained in the godly and right course of action or behaviour. But children are not mini-adults, and our role as parents is to guide them and train them.
This will mean clear directions and instructions, and as they mature, explaining and helping them to understand decisions and actions we might make on their behalf. At times, as parents and teachers, the decisions we make for our children will not always be the most popular! But our hope is that as they grow they will appreciate, understand and imitate the course we have set them on.
“… if you would train your children rightly, train them in the way they should go, and not in the way they would.”