Proverbs 22:6 teaches us to, "Raise a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." This is stated in a variety of ways in the Bibles available, today.
There are many who will argue that this is the church's way of making sure they will continue to have followers by training the minds of the very young before they have full discernment. It's a good argument, but, I think, limited.
I don't believe that is the full intent of this verse. To me, it's meant more as a guide to help you navigate your child through to adulthood, as well as provide them with a source of strength for when times are difficult.
Nurturing and navigation go hand-in-hand, in my opinion, when raising a child. There will always be those who want to completely ignore anything that smacks of the previous generation. But, isn't this just as dangerous as those who refuse to incorporate the new generation with the old? When adults expect their children to not only follow in their footsteps but, in many cases, continue to use the very shops and supplies they've been using, it can be very stressful for everyone. The parents who treat anything other than total compliance as a personal betrayal can be the most destructive to a child's sense of self.
Knowing a child's capabilities and interests and then helping them make their own dreams come true is productive nurturing. This is the parent as navigator, as both enter unknown waters and the adult's experience helps the child find their way. The adult doesn't do what has to be done but guides through the obstacles and training needed to achieve those goals. Those goals may be totally opposite from what the parent expected, and that's perfectly all right. It's the child life, now, and with a parent's support, they can bring the full strength of their interest and focus on achieving the life they want to lead.
It may have taken a village to raise a child in year's past; but, I'm not so sure we have villages available for our children, nowadays. Families are scattered all over the globe, broken through divorce, death, and simple job placement. Our neighbors are strangers and we dare not suggest anyone discipline their child. The immediate parent is all that's left to help the child's self-esteem and sense of worth, and that's a pretty big job.
In the rapid-changing high-tech world of today, there are careers available that were unheard of a mere twenty years ago. It's a world the child knows a lot more about than most parents want to admit. They need guidance, but not control. They want your advice but they want to be able to choose to not take it without being disowned or made to feel like a traitor to the family.
The nurturer cares for the psyche of their child, making them feel good about decisions about their own future, without pressure. The navigator helps them work through the training and documents needed to help them reach their goals. The control freak withholds information that would be helpful, takes offense at any and all opposition, and enables them to take their time finding their way. And, that's how I look at Proverbs 22:6.
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