In the Bible it says that if you raise a child up in the way they should go when they are old they will not depart from it. It is always interesting to me how people are quick to point to this verse when children are doing well, but when children struggle or grow into adults that are irresponsible, lazy, or even get involved in crime and drugs, suddenly all we can talk about are the exceptions to this rule. Everyone wants to talk about how they know a couple that did everything right but still had a child go down the wrong path. Or, even more likely, anyone who has had their child go down the wrong path immediately wants to absolve themselves of any responsibility and claim that they are the one exception to this rule.
I shouldn’t have to say it, but I know I will be taken to task if I don’t, so let’s admit upfront that there are indeed exceptions. No parent is perfect, but there are times when people have raised their children up in the way they should go, and yet still had them go down the wrong path. But we cannot let the exceptions, which are far fewer than you might think, prevent us from talking about the real issues. There is a breakdown in parenting in our society today. And we must be able to talk about it without fear of offending those parents that may have had troubled children through no fault of their own, or those who do indeed bear the fault.
The short comic strip that I included above is realistic. I have seen it play out in real life. I once knew a couple who raised their child with very little supervision, no religious or moral instruction, and just like in this comic strip, they thought it was cute when their child acted like a thug as a little one. They did not speak up when their child started hanging around with the people the child had been emulating as they got older. And yet they were surprised when the child started doing drugs and getting into trouble. Eventually their child started getting involved in criminal activity, and ended up dying due to a drug overdose. The saddest part of that story, to me, is that I could have almost predicted it from the very beginning. The way they were raising their child mattered, and it wasn’t a way that was going to lead to success.
The decisions you make for your children have an impact, as does a failure to make decisions for them. The values that you teach them make a difference. Who you let them hang out with and what you let them do makes a difference. People want to point to many different factors to explain all the societal problems and ills that we face today. But really, and ultimately, it comes down to this. How are you raising your children?
Start children off on the way they should go and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6)