Questions From Readers
Does Proverbs 22:6 guarantee that if Christian children are properly trained, they will not depart from the way of Jehovah?
This verse reads: “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” Just as the bending of a twig influences its growth into a tree, children who are properly trained are more inclined to continue to serve Jehovah when they grow up. As every parent knows, such training takes considerable time and effort. To make Christian disciples of their children, parents must carefully instruct, admonish, encourage, and discipline them as well as set a good example. They must do this consistently and lovingly for many years.
Does this mean, though, that if a child does turn away from serving Jehovah, parental training is at fault? In some cases, parents may have been deficient in their efforts to bring their children up in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah. (Ephesians 6:4) On the other hand, the proverb is not a guarantee that good training will produce children who are faithful to God. Parents cannot mold their children into whatever they wish. Children, like adults, have free will and must ultimately choose their own course in life. (Deuteronomy 30:15, 16, 19) Despite the most earnest efforts of parents, some children become unfaithful, as did Solomon, who wrote the verse we are considering. Even Jehovah had sons who proved unfaithful.
Thus, this scripture does not mean that in every case a child “will not turn aside from it” but that generally speaking this would be the result. What an encouragement this is to parents! Parents should take heart from knowing that their earnest efforts to train their children in the way of Jehovah will produce good results. Since their role is important and their influence is great, parents are encouraged to take their role seriously.—Deuteronomy 6:6, 7.
Even when children turn aside from serving Jehovah, parents who have been conscientious in training their children can entertain the hope that their children will come to their senses. Bible truth is powerful, and parental training is not quickly forgotten.—Psalm 19:7.