“WISDOM OF LIVING (6): TRAINING CHILDREN”
Seeing the devastating rise of juvenile delinquency and crimes committed by children and youth in this country in recent years, many educators, social scientists and juvenile behavioral experts attributed to the failure of childhood training both at home and in school. A recent report also shows that the failure of parental guidance contributes to the rise of health problems, such as high blood pressure, obesity, bad cholesterol and other diseases, when these kids grow to adults. A FOXNEWS report: SPOILED AND ROTTEN KIDS: TAKING CONTROL, aired just last Sunday, confirms the desperate need of training our children. The Scripture quotation above says: “Train a child the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it,” are the words of King Solomon, believed to be the wisest man on earth.
WHAT IS “TRAINING A CHILD”?
The Hebrew word, HANAKH, translated “training”, bears 2 related meanings: to dedicate or give to and to start or to begin. The Jewish festivity, HANUKKAH, comes from this word to denote the dedication and the first worship service in a new temple during the Roman control of the Jewish nation. King Solomon chose this word to teach parents to dedicate their children to the care and teaching of God at the beginning of their lives. Seeing what the emphasis of Solomon in terms of training our kids and that of today’s parental concepts, it is obvious to see our failures.
First, King Solomon attributed to the importance of dedicating our children to God, His care and teaching. This in turn, demands a strong faith and high level of dedication of parents in order to achieve the goal. How often parents, including many Christian parents, try to train their children on their own wisdom, purpose and value. When parents are not dedicated to God themselves, it is impossible to ask them to dedicate their children.
Second, King Solomon stressed the importance of starting early, from the beginning of the life of a kid. Today, we see too many parents trust, or dedicate, their children to teachers and workers of daycare facilities because of their own career or financial pursuits. They believe they can train the kids when they are older. No teacher or worker in daycare facilities will or be allowed, to train your kids according to the teaching of God’s word or principles from the Bible. The values, habits and other essential personality growth of a child will be 90% developed in the first 4 years of his life, according to childhood psychologists. Many frustrating parents wonder why it is so difficult to change or remold values and habits of their children.
HOW TO “TRAIN A CHILD”?
There are many teachings in Proverbs on training sons and daughters, chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 13, 22 and 29. A few practical steps are listed here for your reference:
1) Set guideline, limits or rules. No child should be left to set his own rules. They need to know where they may go and where they need to stop. Setting proper limits help kids to recognize boundaries as well as freedom. Following guidelines will help them in their years of life to come.
2) Demand obedience and explain consequences if they do not follow. This step helps them recognize authority of parents as well as their own responsibility. All of us have to obey someone in all stages of life. It is very important for kids to learn this valuable step to be responsible adults.
3) Exercise punishment when they violate rules. Children need to learn that there are consequences of their behavior. Letting kids do wrong and get away from it is hurting their sense of right and wrong. When applying discipline or punishment on kids, do it with love, not anger or frustration. Gentle and kind are the basis of training.
WHAT IS THE “RIGHT” WAY?
“Who’s way is the right way?” is a hot topic of debate for centuries. Some will stress the supremacy of the parental way. Others will lean to culture or social norms. Still others will give total freedom to the kids, trusting that they will learn the “right” way someday or somehow, after many bumps and bruises. The Hebrew word in the text above is the same word used in Genesis chapter 1 to describe what God said after He created many things, 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, when He saw them, He said “it is GOOD”. The right way is the way God sees it, not parents, not culture, not social norm, not even religions.
This belief demands the complete trust and faith of parents in giving their children to God, train them in the words of the Bible, keeping themselves close to God to draw strength and wisdom in discharging their parental duties.
It is of equal importance that parents need to be consistent in their beliefs and practices. Flip flopping in beliefs and practices can only confuse kids and creates resistance.
WILL THEY EVER GO ASTRAY?
Stray away from the right path is a danger all should avoid, kids and adults. The verse quoted is the result of a general observation not a promise. Great many kids who were well trained with God’s words, parental love, guidance and coaching are more likely to stay on the right path when they grow older.
There are many pitfalls on the way of growing a child: failures of parents, evil influence of the society and culture, bad peer groups, resistance of teaching and guidance from the child himself, etc. Not even God can force anyone to be good when he wants to choose evil, like the Israelites in the Bible.
Both parents and children are to be humble before God in the training of children. It is vitally important to the future of children to be trained and be corrected when they go astray. The future of a nation and even civilization depends on what kind of children we are raising.