There is not anything more fearful or daunting than the training of the child. I often, I mean VERY often, wonder why in the world God gave me any kids, and especially 4 to raise. I know I am not in this all by myself, and am so thankful to have friends, family, and a plethora of resources to help in this endeavor! But still I get overwhelm by my own personal shortcomings and how they will certainly affect my children.
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I know many parents that hold on to that verse as if it is magic potion insuring their child will turn out right. They almost see it as an excuse for their own behavior because they are “giving” their kids all the right things. I will take them to church, I will make sure they have the right friends, I will make sure they are in all the right activities, and I will make sure they know who God is – even if I have to force it. And in our minds we feel like God will bless those things, and if the child goes away from what they have been taught they will come back to it. That is really not what this verse is talking about and certainly not promising.
As quite a self-proclaimed control freak it is very easy for me to want to force the kids to do exactly what I want. I will make all their choices and things will be great. But as my commentary was explaining this approach to parenting can many times only hurt the kids. In parenting it is vitally important to teach the child to make choices themselves, and hopefully the right ones. We train them in all the appropriate ways, but we leave the choosing up to them.
One of my kids made the choice to “go out” with someone even though it hurt their friend deeply. My child could not understand why their friend was so mad and hurt. Clay and I had to sit down with all the kids and explain about honoring a friendship, being loyal to those we love, and that girlfriends and boyfriends will be a dime a dozen most likely until college. We wanted the kids to understand that you never turn on a friend – they are there to the end – truly! I am so thankful for Clay’s examples of Jeff Neal, Reed Jackson, Paul Black, etc. that shows this to be true. (Because of my often moving growing up I really don’t have that so much to show for!)
We left that “meeting” with the kids wondering if they “got it”. Later that night my child came to me explaining that they had just broken up with the love and could not wait to mend things with the friend! Honestly, initially, I wanted to force the situation, but my patient husband was able to remain calm and do the training in a way that the right choices were sure to come. I am so proud of my child for their actions, but even more so I am proud of the way Clay trained them in this particular incident! Parenting is not easy, nor for the weak, but I am so thankful for the instruction manual God left for us to follow!