Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6 NIV                                                                                                                                           

This short ancient proverb from the Hebrew Scriptures captures the importance of parenting.

The proverb is concise, yet gives much wisdom about caring for a child. The proverb states two truths. The lessons learned as a child will stay with him or her their entire life and parents have influence in the way a child turns out. This means that effective parenting must be intentional.

Lessons learned will stay with a child over their entire life. Quite an overwhelming thought. So, if that is the case, how do you teach lessons the most effective way? How are children going to learn these lessons?

The way that all children learn is experience. What children experience at home is how they learn to treat people, behave in social situations, and what they think about themselves.

Children are going to imitate what they see. The way their home life operates is the way they assume all homes operate until they learn otherwise. Even when they see otherwise, it is going to be the natural tendency to behave under the expectations given at home.

Prepare to be imitated.

What is a parent to do? Take action.

Because your child is going to imitate you, make sure they see you doing what you want them to be doing. This could be simple; if you want your child to show respect to others then show people respect. An example of intentional parenting is showing care for the community. This could be taking your son with you to participate in a service activity.

Telling a child what is good is appropriate. Showing them what is good is love.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “follow me as I follow Christ.” Parents should operate with the same mindset to start their children “on the way they should go.”

Justin P. Lewis, MA