“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” Proverbs 22:6 KJV.
Last month we looked at this text, and discovered that, rather than trying to create the “perfect” child by being “perfect” parents, and thus ensuring their salvation, we are to focus on dedicating, understanding, training, and preparing our children for the responsibilities and skills required in adulthood. What a blessing!
Today I want to concentrate on one word of that excellent commission: “up.”
I recently took a lengthy trip with my son. We ran into all kinds of problems concerning our transportation — rental car place was out despite our reservation, no cars available until midnight, first Uber “taxi” canceled on us, second Uber was a terrifying driver, etc. — and in the midst of all this, I realized that my son was being an incredibly non-complaining, patient blessing to me. And, I told him so.
How often do we compliment our children on character traits, especially when they may be doing something we just take for granted? Probably not enough. I read that text again, and suddenly “Train UP…” takes on added meaning. We are not just training our children. We are training up our children.
How can we do this? For one thing, we can lift a child up at every appropriate opportunity. I’m not talking about overdoing praise and thus devaluing it, but about recognizing those things that our child does well or has shown growth in, particularly character traits. Take a look at the fruits listed in Galatians 5:22-23 KJV again: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. You know how much we can doubt ourselves as homeschooling parents. Well, our kids can doubt themselves too. Assuring them both that we see signs of the Spirit working in their lives, and that we also appreciate their personal efforts to grow in character, will strengthen them.
Another way to lift them up is to look for improvements in areas of their schooling. I’ve discovered that if my son thinks he’s “bad” at something, inevitably he seems to be. The opposite is also true. For years he struggled with math (or maybe I just struggled with finding the right program). Finally we found one where he seemed to grasp it more quickly and move ahead. He was overcoming a lot of “bad” programming, though, and was two years behind. One day after he’d finished a lesson quickly, I told him I thought he had a flair for math. “Really? You think I have a flair for MATH?!?” he said. I explained that I’d seen rapid improvement once we found a program that explained math in a way he could understand, and that he hardly asked me any confused questions anymore. Well, guess who is now powering through two math lessons a day, much more confident now that he has “a flair for math”!
A third way to lift up our children is to lift them up to God — not just in our private prayer life, but also in their presence. Probably most of us have had the experience of a child who has had a scary dream or a bad day, and we pray to God with them to help ease them to peace and sleep. This is also an affirming way to handle school and life, both the problems and the achievements. Ask God, with your child, to help him or her work on sharing or self-control, and also to help you to model it as He would want; this makes it a team effort, too, and so lifts up rather than puts down your child.
I think the next time my son pulls out his math lesson, I’m going to go to him and thank God right then and there for helping us find the right math program, and for helping him to discover his “flair.”
Children will very often rise to our expectations. How can you train up your child today?
“Train UP a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” Proverbs 22:6 KJV.