Parents have an obligation to train their children. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). This is not an iron-clad guarantee. It is not set in concrete. The Proverbs are truisms for the most part. They state a general rule or obvious point; profound but simple. Some children stray regardless of the best raising.
If you train your child, though, there is a much greater likelihood that he or she will turn out good. They may stumble and fall along the way, but when they mature and come to realize the truth you taught them, the practical and valuable wisdom you passed on, they will do what’s right. If you do not train them, they will stand little chance. The world will step in and train them for you.
Fathers are especially charged with training their children in the ways of the Lord. “And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Not only are fathers supposed to raise them to be good, hard working, upstanding citizens, but they are also to instill religious principles in them. Teach your children to respect God. Show them how to pray. Instruct them in Bible study. Etch the truth on their brains.
Training a child includes discipline. There is exhortation and instruction on one hand, and rebuke and upbraiding on the other. The Bible endorses neither emotional nor physical abuse. Such is sin. What it does endorse is loving, caring discipline to shape and mold the character of a child.
“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Prov. 29:15).
“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13:24).
Such training benefits both the child and the parents. The sooner parents begin training, the better. If a child is not brought under control, given boundaries that are enforced, at a very young age–before 2 or 3–it will be very difficult to train them at all.
Parents set down rules from love, though children may not fully understand this. The Lord chastens those He loves, and expects the same from parents (Heb. 12:5-11). No discipline means no love. It will help engender respect for authority that will go beyond the home.
It is worth noting that parents are the ones to judge the time, place, and appropriateness of the discipline. It is not the government’s job, nor the school system. They have no right of interference.
Grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, and others should not be saddled with main responsibility of training the children. Yes, these may on a temporary basis be in charge of the care of a child, but it should not be so too frequently. God gave children to parents, not grandparents. Too many children are being raised by someone other than the parents and it is tragic. It is tragic for the children that their parents are not around. The same is true for the parents.
Proper discipline of a child will produce righteousness. “Blow that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart” (Prov. 20:30). “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15).
A tender heart and firm hand are what children need. If parents will be the kind of parents they ought to be, children will be the kind of children they ought to be–and we will all benefit.