Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 NLT
“One day, you’ll thank me.”
My wife and I—along with my brother and sister-in-law—decided to celebrate Christmas day and the two days after with a trip to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One of the things on our to-do list involved walking the new Skybridge in Gatlinburg. Throngs of people thwarted our first attempt, so we decided to return earlier the next day.
Sure enough, our second attempt rewarded us with shorter lines and wait times. As my wife and I awaited our turn to step onto the bridge, two families with a teen boy in each preceded us. Signs decorated the railings around the bridge, telling visitors not to jump on the bridge or shake it.
As soon as one of the teenage boys set foot on the bridge, he did exactly what the sign warned against: jumped. An attendant scolded him. He responded with a vulgar hand motion. The worker said nothing—nor did his parents.
We continued to follow the two families across the bridge. Halfway across, the other teenager grabbed the rail and shook. Another misdemeanor—one that his parents again ignored.
A little farther, the two families stopped to take pictures. Wanting to hurry across, we passed them. The father of one of the teens—who also had a smaller child—responded by tossing out the “f” bomb because we thought we were too good to wait.
I thought of this Bible verse and also of one of my dad’s sayings. I wondered if these children would be able to say their parents had guided them along right paths. Sure, they spent time with them, but they also ignored their bad behavior by overlooking their disobedience to rules and authority figures.
Dad always used this saying when I didn’t like one of the rules he and mom had made. When I balked, he reminded me that one day I’d thank him for the rule. I didn’t think so then, but he was right. During my teen years, I, too, went astray—as the bridge-walking teens appeared to be doing. But during my forays into disobedience, my parents’ rules—which represented God’s rules—always haunted me. When I became a young adult, I gave up my disobedience and returned to the right path.
God has given parents the responsibility to train their children in the right way. This entails teaching them God’s principles, but it also involves noticing what gifts and talents God has given them and then encouraging them to use those gifts in God’s service to make the world a better place.
God holds parents accountable for adhering to His guidelines for parenting. Although we can’t control what decisions our children make—and shouldn’t beat ourselves up when they go astray after our honorable efforts—teaching is our job. We must make the effort. How they respond is on them, but laying a good foundation makes it more probable they’ll choose the right path.
Are you laying a foundation your children will one day thank you for?
Prayer: Father, give us parents the wisdom and fortitude to raise our children and grandchildren in a way that pleases You.
Tweetable: What will your children thank you for?
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