Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
“Where did we go wrong? We didn’t raise him to do things like this. We raised him in the church!” As a parent with four mostly grown children, I can certainly relate to this familiar line of thinking. Some decisions they have made have been hard to watch. Some roads they have travelled have resulted in long nights and restless days. We raised them in a solid church environment with Sunday mornings, youth group, and Wednesday night suppers and bible studies…yet, they don’t always choose to follow “the way they should go.”
Before I go on any further, we have to deal with the elephant in the room: Proverbs are not promises – they are principles. Today’s verse is as well known for its simple brilliance as it is for its seemingly less-than-stellar track record of confusion and disappointment. Many a child has been raised in a Christian home to know and follow the Lord yet when they get into their teens or college years they walk away from the faith and choose to live as if none of that training and input took root. Some research suggests that number could be as high as 70% or more (Barna). But there is another truth that every Christian parent needs to know and that is this:
Really good Christian parents can have kids that make really bad decisions.
One of the hardest realities my wife and I have had to come to grips with is the fact that our children are all individuals who will choose which way they will go, regardless of how hard we have tried to point them in the right direction. A real shocker, I know. Sometimes we beat ourselves up and wonder, “Where did we go wrong? Why is ____ doing that?” Have you been there? Are you there, now? Most parents try to own their kid’s missteps or failures, as if they are solely to blame…but who do you blame for what happened in the Garden of Eden? Did God fail to raise his children in the way they should go? Think about that for a while.
Our children are not who they are going to be, yet…and God loves them far more than we do. Raise them in the Lord as best as you can, maintain a loving and patient and compassionate relationship, and then trust them into His hands for the rest with on-going prayers and faith.