Train a child in the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
Why is this verse scary? It suggests that the influence that parents have on their children has long lasting consequences. If we train them in ambition and covetousness from an early age they will, in all likelihood, learn that lesson well. If we teach them selfishness and pride then it will be an unusual child who will buck the family trend.
However, if we teach and reveal in our lives, faith, a love for God and His Kingdom and a love for one’s neighbour, then only the rare child will turn his or her back on the family’s teaching. This is a principle – not a hard and fast rule.
Training, of course, is more than just words. Training involves example, lifestyle and continual modelling. Acquisitiveness, selfishness, pride, and a whole host of other social traits are being modelled for our children daily in homes all across the world. These children, on the whole, are excelling in the training they are receiving.
The writer of Proverbs was not intending to encourage people into poor behaviour, in fact, he was encouraging the opposite. Yet the principle still holds. Through our ill considered, but consistently lived, lifestyles our children are being taught a host of lessons.
Yet here lies our hope too. Healthy training, modelling and lifestyle, whether it be faith, social justice or diet, if its lived and taught consistently, will have an amazing impact on our children.
Some children will reject their training. The news is that they will be the exception not the rule. This news is both good and bad. Train and model well and we will receive the rewards but if we teach and model poorly, succeeding generations will out perform us in all our weaknesses.