“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it..”
-Proverbs 22:6, NIV
If you are a parent and a Christian this is a verse you are probably VERY familiar with. And up until recently I thought I knew exactly what that meant. I thought it meant to make sure your babies love Jesus, make sure they know right from wrong, make sure they are respectful, make sure they try their hardest, make sure they know how to be good people when they are small and, in turn, they will be good people when they are big.
Now, I am not saying that is not what the verse means, I think those things are still important, but as my kids get older and their individual personalities are coming out, I am seeing a whole new side to this verse.
Start children off on the way THEY should go…I think that is God telling us to respect who He made our children to be. It doesn’t say start children off on the way you think they should go, but raise them up in the way THEY were made to go.
For some of us who are super athletes, I believe that means letting our genius boy join chess club or play piano, instead of insisting they be on the football team. For some of us who see doctor or lawyer as the only suitable career choice, I believe this might mean supporting and encouraging a budding artist.
Each of my children is wildly different from the other and they all seem so different from me. My daughter would rather play soccer than dance, my oldest is brilliant and loves watching documentaries on the weekend, my middle boy has an artist’s soul and already way more talent than I do, and the little one is still a question mark...but I am sure he will surprise me as they all have.
So, how do I find the “way they should go”?
I think that has to do with listening to our kids and asking...what do their hearts beat for? What are the incredible ways God has gifted them? How can we encourage and support them in their dreams and help them to discern God given dreams and dreams driven from pride.
Training them up in the way they should go, I believe, is so much more than teaching them right from wrong. It’s encouraging them in what God has planned for them, allowing them to be the very best versions of themselves. What an awesome privilege we have; to set our children’s feet on that path, to pray over their decisions with them, to watch these little people birthed from us grow into world changers. What a gift and incredible responsibility. I am praying that God would give us all the strength to do this part of motherhood well and the grace to fill in when we mess up!
What do you think of Proverbs 22:6 parenting?
Amber Newberry is the founder of Beautiful & Beloved a ministry dedicated to freedom and empowerment. Amber has 4 littles ages 8-3 and lives in the mountains of southern Colorado, she enjoys speaking to MOPS and women all over about what it means to live believing you are Beautiful and Beloved.