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In the Old Testament in the book of Proverbs Solomon’s advice to parents is to “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Raising and training a child within the context of this proverb means that it begins with the Bible, as “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training…” (2 Timothy 3:16).
My wife and I were discussing this verse and the subject came up as to when should this training start. I think if you asked the average parent your answers will vary greatly but to answer this question properly we really need to focus on the child. We need to understand the developmental stages the child goes through from birth to adulthood. My wife felt that the teaching should be started at birth and after some discussion, I totally agreed. In my research, I found out that recent brain research that was published by the California Department of Education in 2000 indicates that birth to age three are the most important years in a child’s development. This may not make sense when we first think about it but the child’s initial learning is from the environment that he or she lives in. If they are breastfed, they develop a close bond with their mother and the warmth and love that provides whereas if they are bottle-fed they don’t get that.
The next factor we need to look at is the environment. Is the child is in a loving, caring, and peaceful environment, or are they surrounded with arguments, screaming, and violence. Do they have both parents to provide a stable environment or is one parent or a relative being forced to raise them and juggle a career at the same time. This could lead to an environment of neglect or being raised by somebody that’s not even related to you in which case you have no idea how your child is being treated. Proverbs 29:15 clarifies this point by saying; The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. These factors not only affect this during the first 18 months of development but throughout our life until we leave home. Children learn in many different ways. Each child has his own way of learning-some learn visually, others through touch, taste, and sound. Do we jump every time they cry (which I feel teaches them to be manipulative in the future) or for sure they’re okay and are not hungry, wet, or feeling sick that we let them cry a little until they fall asleep.
Some of us as adults even practice what the above-mentioned article calls “the toddler’s Creed”. It is “If I want it, it’s mine. If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine. If I take it away from you, it’s mine. If it’s mine it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what. If it looks just like mine, it’s mine.” How many of us practice or know people who practice this creed. We must be very careful in training our children that they do not fall into this way of thinking. The Bible tells us that children are a reward from God (Psalm 127:3). It would certainly seem fitting, then, that we heed Solomon’s wise counsel to train them appropriately. In fact, the value that God placed on teaching our children the truth is clearly addressed by Moses who stressed to his people the importance of teaching their children about the Lord and His commands and laws: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them (about God’s commandments) when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.… (Deuteronomy 6:7-9). Moses’ thoroughness underscores his deep concern that successive generations maintain obedience to God’s laws to ensure they would “live safely in the land”
We as parents should have the same zeal for teaching our children that Moses had. We only have the privilege of being stewards of our children’s lives for a very short time but the training that we provide for them is eternal. If we train them properly and live our lives as examples of the way we want them to be, even if they go off track for a short while, they will come back around and remain true to the way that we have trained them and reap its rewards in the next life.
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