“Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction” (Proverbs 19:18).
Speaking about parenting is difficult. I do not pretend to know everything about parenting, but I am glad that God has given guidance through His Word to equip me for the challenging task of guiding my children in the Lord. What does the book of Proverbs have to say about this subject?
As the father of two beautiful daughters, I deeply love my children. However, God, through the book of Proverbs, teaches me some realities about my children that I need to understand and embrace if I am to give them the guidance, they need to have a successful and blessed life. First, Proverbs pictures a child as being full of foolishness and, as a parent, one of my responsibilities, is to drive the foolishness out of them: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15). Parents who are willing to endure their child not “liking” them for instilling in their children the discipline and the correction they need, will be able to “rejoice” in the future when the parents see their children maturing in the Lord: “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Proverbs 29:17). Again, the wise man adds, “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice and he who begets a wise child will delight in him. Let your father and your mother be glad and let her who bore you rejoice” (Proverbs 23:24-25).
On the other hand, a foolish child will bring great pains to a parent: “A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him” (Proverbs 17:25; cf. Proverbs 10:1). How does a child grow up to be foolish? First, foolishness in a child can be caused by a parent’s failure to correct the child: “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). Second, a child can become foolish by the child’s own failure to embrace the correction received from parents: “A fool despises his father's instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent” (Proverbs 15:5). Again, the writer warns children about their attitude in receiving instruction and correction from parents: “Whoever curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in deep darkness” (Proverbs 20:20). In other words, both the parents and the child have a part to play in determining whether or not the child will become wise or foolish: “A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish man despises his mother” (Proverbs 15:20).
The 18th century poet, Alexander Pope, is credited with coining the phrase, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree”. As parents, early in our children’s lives, as if bending the twig of a young tree, we are to act upon them to help shape and mold them so they may grow into all that God would have them to be. The action God expects parents to take to bend and mold their children may seem harsh to many in today’s society: “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). Furthermore, God’s Word adds: “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod and deliver his soul from hell” (Proverbs 23:13-14). The Bible does not advocate physically abusing one’s children, but it does emphasize that strong measures may have to be taken to correct them.
Today, the task of parenting in such a permissive age is extremely challenging. In many homes, it seems the children are controlling the parents instead of the parents having control of the children. Today, I will strive to follow God’s guidance and have the determination and resoluteness I need to train my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord!
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).