Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. – Proverbs 22:6
Nothing in life is more rewarding than child rearing, yet nothing is more frustrating. A wonderful and insightful statement on child rearing is found in Proverbs 22:6. This verse contains a world of insight into the task of parenting, when it is properly understood.
To begin with, the word translated direct in the phrase "direct your children" is translated "to dedicate" in 1 Kings 8:63, in which Solomon is dedicating the temple. This phrase conveys the parental responsibility to give the child to the Lord. In essence, the child is the Lord’s to begin with. And now, in a conscious act, the parent willfully and volitionally presents the child back to God. In addition, the original term direct was used to describe a rope placed in the mouth of a horse so as to give it guidance while the rider was breaking it. The parent has an awesome responsibility in leading and directing the child in the things of God.
The writer of Proverbs goes on to say, "into the right path." The word path is used figuratively, referring to the makeup of a child–his or her unique characteristics and mannerisms. Effective coaches and managers know that they cannot coach or manage each person in their charge the same way; neither can an effective parent rear each child the same way. As parents, we must be careful to avoid two errors: first, rearing our children the way we were reared–mistakes and all; and second, applying the same approach of child rearing to each child.
The writer concludes this verse by saying, "And when they are older, they will not leave it." The word older in the original language means "hair on the chin." It suggests someone approaching adulthood, not approaching retirement. The writer is thinking of someone who is just starting to grow a beard. If the purpose is fulfilled and the process realized, then the result is a child who will not depart from the way in which he has been trained. The child will be perfect. No, not in the meaning you think, but in the biblical sense. The child will be mature and prepared, ready to face life.