Train up a child in the way he should go,

Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

(Proverbs 22:6)


In a recent sermon drawing lessons from Ecclesiastes, we noted the difference between training, guiding and influencing our children and controlling our children. We easily slip into control-parenting-mode when we believe we have the power to choose our child’s destiny for them. This erroneous belief turns parenting into a disappointing and joyless experience and childhood into a prison of confusion and sadness.


Scripture teaches parents to “train” (Prov. 22:6), “discipline” (Eph. 6:4; Prov. 22:15), diligently “teach” (Deut. 6:6-7), and lead their children by example. Children are a blessing from God (Psa. 137:3-5) meant to be trained up and sent out to be a blessing to others. How, then, can we “train” our children in the way they should go? Here a few suggestions.

Pray for your child – We should begin praying for our children while they are still in the womb, thank God for them when they are born and continue to pray for them as they grow and mature. Parents ought never to stop praying for their children (1 Sam. 1-2).

Create a godly atmosphere at home – As Deuteronomy 6:4-9 indicates, faith must be woven into the fabric of our very lives. The home should be an environment of spiritual growth and safety for our child. Children should feel comfortable bringing their questions, experiences, triumphs and defeats home to discuss and process as a family.


Intentionally lead your child – When family decisions are made with consistency of purpose the family is moving in a direction. It’s not going nowhere. Joshua could not force his children to follow the Lord but he could lead with purpose, sincerity and consistency (Josh. 24:15).


Instill faith in your child – Honesty is always the best policy (Eph. 4:15), no matter the relationship, but especially with children and especially with issues regarding faith. A child’s questions should never be dismissed nor should they be answered with one word. Like math class, parents should “show their work”, that is, they should tell their children what they believe then show them why they believe it with Scripture. When parents give a one word answer or dismiss their child’s question while expecting them to ‘just believe’ they are indoctrinating and brainwashing their child not instilling faith.


Set boundaries for your child – The warnings are just as instructive as the encouragements. Both the victories and the failures are invaluable moments of instruction that condition and strengthen our children to take on responsibility, develop personal accountability and cultivate wisdom. Outlining the Do’s and the Don’ts and enforcing them with discipline will help our children enter into the promises of God later for themselves.


Establish a pattern of devotion – Daily worship and study with our children creates an expectation and perception of what is “normal.” When true worship becomes the standard at home what is done collectively in a corporate setting with a congregation is helpful reinforcement.


Influence your child – You don’t have to try hard to influence your child. One way or another, you will. Children so easily take on the characteristics of their parents because they naturally love and trust them. We err as parents either when our influence is ungodly (Ezek. 16:44) or our influence is misdirected. They are watching you!


Guide your child – Sometimes parents try to make their children into little versions of themselves. “Come what may, my son WILL play football!” The only thing this approach to parenting WILL do is develop harmful identity issues in the child later on. Children are not to be squeezed into the mold of their parents but to be transformed by godly guidance and instruction in truth (Rom. 12:1-2).


Be on the same page as your spouse – A house divided against itself cannot stand (Mt. 12:25). Children are skilled in playing divided parents against one another if it suits their purpose. But when there is consistency of leadership and Mom’s answer is the same as Dad’s answer children learn who is really leading the house… not them.


Correctively discipline your child – If you hate your child and want them to grow up destroying themselves and others, do nothing (Prov. 22:15; 23:13). However, if you love your child and desire them to grow to maturity, discipline them. God disciples those He loves (Heb. 12:4-11) and the punishment always fits the crime.


Reward your children – When children do the right thing, they should be rewarded. It may just be a smile, a word or a special treat. This can be done without turning them into little Pharisees. Tell your kid you noticed the kind action or word and explain the significance of “walking in truth” and the joy it brings you as a parent (3 Jn. 1:4).


There is so much more to be said on the issue of parenting but we will conclude with one more piece of advice: Listen to older parents. Fountains of wisdom and experience are all around us in the church. Take advantage of the godly examples around you. Also, to the older parents, if you notice younger parents doing something right, tell them!