Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Prov. 22:6 NIV)

CHILDREN are very important members of the family. The responsibility of raising and training children belong first and foremost to the parents.

In the case where a child is placed in the care of guardians, the guardians assume that responsibility. Parents and guardians do not give up that great responsibility to pastors or ministers when they send their children to church.

They do not give up that honorable responsibility to teachers when they send them away to school. Parents bring the children into this world and the responsibility to raise them remains their own. In this reflection, I would like to highlight the importance of starting children off right in life as indicated in Proverbs 22:6 (NIV).

From the time they are in their mother’s womb through their teen age years, children develop physically, emotionally, and mentally. During those early years, they learn and explore this wonderful world. As growing individuals, Children do not always make considered decisions and they need much guidance. They have their own dreams and they follow their thinking. They may also become naughty in their attitude.

The responsibility to give guidance, train up and to assist a child is a parental responsibility. Parents need to make it a regular practice to sit down together and talk about how they would like to raise their children. How the children are raised during their early years will determine how they will live and perform as adults in the society.

The first part of our text says: “Start children off on the way they should go.” (Prov 22:6a) The underlying Hebrew says: “Dedicate a child upon the opening of his way.” We can learn two things from this. First, a child may be guided to a certain way of life. A child may be started on a path.

A child is young and he/she does not know much about life or what is ahead in life. A child does not have much experience in life and he/she needs direction and guidance. The child may be started on a path in life and the parents and guardians play an important role in directing the child.

The parents can inspire a child and they can introduce a child into a certain way. The parents can commit a child to a certain future. The guidance of the parents or guardians at the very early age of a child is crucially important.

Second, a child stands at the beginning of a journey in life. There is a path that is good for the child and the child stands at the beginning of that path in life. There is a whole future ahead of the child. The Hebrew text views this beginning as the opening of his way. The child stands at the opening of a journey of lifetime.

The child travels the journey of life that begins from conception to death. It is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to help the child to enter a good opening in life. The parents or guardians can initiate a child into a good way.

They can set a child onto a certain path. They can get a child interested in things that will determine his path in life. The child stands at the beginning of a life of experience with the world, and the parents and guardians can help the child to start out right.

The parents or guardians who realize that a child stands at the opening to the journey of life can do a lot more to guide the child into the right start. Children like to play and the parents and guardians can introduce play activities to get a child interested in things that will become helpful to him/her in the future.

Early childhood activities can awaken interest or arouse curiosity in a child. Every way has a starting point; every life way also starts at some point. The initial interest and the initial inspiration that the child gets can shape a child’s future career when he grows into adulthood.

It should not come as a surprise to anybody that a child who enjoys playing with butterflies when he/she is a small kid may later go on to become a scientist who focuses on the study of butterfly.

I will not be surprised if a boy who enjoys playing with a soccer ball at a very early age will later on become a national soccer star. Childhood interests can become careers in life.
The second part of our text says: “and even they are old they will not turn from it.” (Prov 22:6b).

Parents can set a path that their kids will follow in life. Parents can inspire and help their children follow a path that is right and good for them. Parents can help their children choose what is good over what is bad, what is right over what is wrong. Parents can lay out good moral principles for children.

A child who is properly nurtured and raised in a stable manner in his childhood also grows to become a confident and mature citizen of the country. The course of a person’s journey in life is often set in his childhood. A child who is properly raised and taught at an early stage in life has principles that will guide him in life. This makes child training an important parental responsibility.

Training up a child must be done properly and must be done in the early childhood years, so that when he is old he will have principles that will guide him in life.

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