“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it,” (Proverbs 22:6). These words take on new meaning to me as I reflect on the responsibility of raising my daughter’s teenager. Parenting my daughter was serious business, and I took the words from Proverbs to heart in those days. Being a grandparent was a refreshing change because I had all the fun without the trials of butting heads, disciplining, and monitoring daily activities. Now I must endeavor to bridge these two roles for I consider this child to be a gift from the Lord, now given to me.
Do you ever consider the relationships that have failed to flourish? Whether these were parent/child, romantic, work related, authority figures, have you felt the remorse or regret over words and behaviors that were unseemly or even caused the break-up of the relationship? There were times when my adult daughter and I did not see eye to eye on most of the important beliefs that I hold. We may have even gone months without talking, yet I always loved her. Is God giving me another chance to love better this child of my daughter? The thought pulls me to my knees for I remember my weaknesses as a parent. I pray for more wisdom and I lean on Christ to live as the Thessalonians were described – without ceasing the work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ (I Thessalonians 1:2). This child deserves no less from me.
So what will I do differently? What have I learned over the 40 years I was a parent. (40 years – isn’t that how long Moses was in the desert preparing to lead the chosen people out of Egypt? Oh, boy!) The one thing I have learned is that all truth is found in Scripture. Those one, two, and multiple verse units in Proverbs have a depth of meaning that comes to light after application, observation, and living with consequences. Wise sayings about social justice, human behavior and interactions, public trust and fairness, rude and ignorant behavior toward those in authority, workaholics, alcoholics, treatment of the downtrodden, sucking up to the rich, and even manners at the table – pages of instruction for us all to follow and model to our children. Also, knowing that Moses’ temper cost him the Promised Land gives me great pause in my unbridled passion for perfection. I have learned from experience the need to receive and to give mercy.
The quote from Proverbs 22:6 is not a promise but a principle. The principle is the mission statement of God’s parenting manual. Yet, there is a promise that repeats throughout God’s Word. God’s promise is that He will enable me for the task of guiding and encouraging this nearly young adult. “For His merciful kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the Lord endures forever.” (Psalm 117:2)