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Why ‘Train up a Child’ Is Not a Promise

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One of the most quoted verses about raising children is Proverbs 22:6. It says this: Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Many people believe this is an ironclad promise. If you raise a child up in God’s ways, then he or she will grow up to be a follower of Jesus.  

Along with this is the line of thinking that if a child departs from actively practicing faith in Christ, then dad and mom did something wrong in their parenting. The presumption is that they did not properly train their child to follow Jesus. Somewhere in their parenting they missed something or did something incorrectly.

I disagree with this line of thought. I believe that this verse is a principle, not a promise.  Just like many other “promises” in Proverbs, it is not a 100% guarantee.

Why?

Because God will not violate a person’s free will. 

Each of us must choose for ourselves whether we are going to follow Jesus or not.  

“God only has children not grandchildren.” 

Just because parents are following Jesus and doing their best to raise their children to follow Jesus, doesn’t mean the children will automatically follow him.  

I have seen children who were raised in a great Christian home and yet turned away from God when they got out on their own. 

I have also seen children who were raised without God in their life and received no spiritual guidance from their parents, come to Christ and become active, passionate followers of Jesus.