Parenting is both terrifying and rewarding. Suddenly, you are not the baby anymore, nor does your life revolve around you. We are charged with leading another person by the hand through this life. That person will either grow to do remarkable things from a happy heart and a well-adjusted life or not. Will they love God? Will they live up to their potential? There are many gray areas along the way when raising children but some things are simply not.
How important is our job as parents? There is research that suggests that how you act toward your child will be how your child views God later in life. How do you act daily? Moods and situations change from day to day but what seems to be consistent? Will your little one view God as cold or distant or angry or domineering? What about compassionate and affectionate?
A friend recently shared with my husband the secret to his diet: Everyone has a diet. It’s either healthy or unhealthy but it’s ridiculous for someone to say they’re going on a diet because everyone already has one. This is how I have come to view what my children take in daily. Children will learn. You can’t pause it even for a moment or take anything back whether it’s for better or worse. You are discipling another human who is wholly reliant on you and what you teach them will shape the rest of their life. No pressure.
With such a huge responsibility as parents, how can we achieve this monumental task ahead of us? Your baby may be only two months old, but how do you help him turn into a loving husband and a good father one day? How can you help your little girl realize the dreams that God has for her? We may be venturing into the gray area of parenting but God will help those who seek better vision to see it more clearly. The process is just as important as the outcome to Him. For example, let’s take a closer look at Proverbs 22:6.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
“Train up a child…” means dedication, effort, and a commitment to the children that God has entrusted to us. So many times, we see examples of what happens when we do not take the time to train our children. Just turn on your news tonight if you need a reminder that if you do not train up your children, someone else will. We must become active and involved in not only our children’s lives, but their spiritual walk as well.
“…in the way he should go,” speaks to us parents that we should first know the way, then show it to our children. You cannot give something that you do not have and we are charged to first make sure that we have the right way so we can point our little ones in the right direction. Jesus said that He is the way, the truth and the life in John 14:6 so our own compasses should be set on Jesus before we even utter a word of direction to them.
A while ago now I heard someone say that we are trying to raise men and women, not good boys and girls and even though I forget who I heard say it, that statement stuck with me and sunk down into my heart. “And when he is old..” reminds us that our children will not stay children forever. God has entrusted you with a person whom He personally knitted together in the womb. He has a purpose for His creation and it is our job to help draw that purpose out of our child one unique ability and gift at a time.
“…he will not depart from it” is our promise. This reminds us that if we commit ourselves to continually showing our children the way of Jesus, when they grow up our efforts won’t be in vain. There are many things that our children are almost guaranteed to encounter that are temporary, earthly things and if they have a firm foundation of eternal things, they won’t be enticed by the temporal as much.
Remember the saying that everyone has a God-shaped hole in their heart? God alone calls us unto repentance and reveals Himself to us but it falls to us parents to guide our children toward Him. If we fail, our little ones will try to fill that God-shaped hole with whatever they or the world thinks will fit. This doesn’t have to be worst case scenario stuff: your child homeless and feeding their drug addiction in a murky area of town. It could become smart phones or video games. It can be work, another person, or even a healthy lifestyle that they try to make fit and no matter how hard they try, God will always be the missing piece. However, if we put up the effort to train our children, God will become a solid foundation for life.