Read Proverbs 22:6
6 Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (NIV)
The first thing to say about this verse is that it is not true. The second thing to say that it can cause great concern and even guilt on the part of Christian parents. The third thing to say is that it contains a valuable, and true, insight.
It is a sad fact that we may raise our children to love God and later on they turn away or maybe never embrace him in the first place. It is just not true that children will never deviate from faith if they are raised properly. Some families know of situations where they have raised their children similarly and yet some have stuck with Christianity and others have rejected it.
We cannot take ultimate responsibility for our children’s faith—or lack of it. They have to make their own way with God. We can give them a good start and a good context within which they make their decisions, but we can’t do their deciding for them. It is unhelpful and destructive for parents to blame themselves for how their children turn out. Some children from respectable homes go wild. Some from dysfunctional homes stick to the straight and narrow.
And yet this verse contains valuable truth. It is like other sayings in the same book. It gives us general principles to which there are obvious exceptions. Hard-working people usually reap a reward but not always. Gossiping people do come unstuck but not always. Children raised in a Christian way do have a great head start in following Jesus, but they may not always do so.
In the meantime, the best thing we can do regarding our children is to love them and pray for them. Whatever else is uncertain, that much is certain.
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