Insight: Your True Parenting Insurance Policy

Insights are short, biblical truths to equip you to lead from your strengths.

“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, AMP)

Proverbs 22:6 is one of the best-known scriptures about parenting – yet also one of the most misunderstood.

It can be tempting to call this passage the Parenting Insurance Policy. From a quick glance, the verse promises a simple cause-and-effect outcome. If you follow the instructions and teach your child to live the right way – “train him up in the way he should go” according to God’s Word – then the child will adopt that approach throughout his life.

girl on road

Image: United Love Baptist Church

In other words, your responsibility as a parent is to teach your child right and wrong. Then he will turn out OK.

God promised. Right?

Not exactly. It is true that part of a parent’s role is to teach a child to grow in the awe and worship of God …know His Word … shape a child to understand how to make good choices … understand right from wrong …

But the true insurance policy offered here addresses what you should train your child to do (not just the fact that you should be teaching him.)

The promise refers to training your child to follow his unique, God-given bent.

Here’s An Insight

The key Hebrew word in the scripture is derek or “way.” It can refer to a literal way such as a road, or it can be figurative and refer to a way or manner of doing things. The term is used figuratively in this passage.

From conception, God has a guiding hand in determining who each person is … what you’ll grow to be like, including your personality, talents, gifts, and abilities. Each of us, including your child, arrives with a prescribed set of characteristics or bents. Those characteristics are what the scripture refers to as “his way.”

Note that God does not tell you to train up your child according to your mode of action or way of doing things. Nor does God tell you to train up your child according to the way you want him to be.

Rather, a parent is to help his child discover his bent and then help the child dedicate himself to using those strengths.

One of the most exciting facets of parenting is to oversee this process of a child’s self-discovery. When you train up a child in the way he should go, you train him according to his bent – the path especially fitted for his strengths.

How many children, young people, and even adults struggle each day to have a sense of direction, purpose, and vision? Their lives might be different if they had understood their strengths and how to use them from an early age.

Here is God’s promise: when you help your child discover his strengths and then train up that child to understand his strengths and use them, your child will continue to use that gifting throughout his life. Your child will be able to use his strengths to have deep, fulfilling relationships and live a life of purposeful intentionality.

And that’s a true Parenting Insurance Policy.

Now How Shall I Live?

The Hebrew word hanakh means “to dedicate” or “to consecrate.” It’s used just four times in the Old Testament: three times in reference to dedicating a building and once in Proverbs 22:6, referring to “training up” a child.

Read the three scriptures which use hanakh when referring to dedicating a building. What do the verses teach you about parenting a child (also a new temple)?

The officers shall speak to the people, saying, “Is there any man who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it.” (Deuteronomy 20:5, ESV)

Solomon offered as peace offerings to the Lord 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord. (1 Kings 8:63, ESV)

King Solomon offered as a sacrifice 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. (2 Chronicles 7:5, ESV)

Parenting Resources from Ministry Insights

How We Help Families Thrive

Family Insights Profile Helps Families Lead From Their Strengths

Book: Parenting From Your Strengths

More Insights

Do You Know Your Strengths … Or Are You Just a Know-It-All?

Renewing Your Mind Means Choosing With Your Head

Changing Your Heart Means Giving God Access

Using Your Hands Means More than “Just Do It”

Strengths Are Given In the Image of God