Truth of the Week 4: Train Up

How does one simply – train – a child appropriately? What does train mean? According to The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D. – the Hebrew for the word train is chânak (khaw-nak′) – it means to narrow, to initiate or discipline, dedicate, train up. Training is specific. People don’t train for 30 things so they can be slightly good in all 30 categories, but train in more narrow fields so they can be really good in them. I personally only have a few categories I will dedicate my mental and physical space to so that I do a really good job in my personal interests for my version of a successful and happy life. I do not have time to dabble in everything because then it would take up time from doing what I need and want to be good at. Sure our children need to learn a broad spectrum of things to be able to successfully navigate the real world but what are we narrowing in on so they can be good at all the things? Are we teaching them to solve problems for themselves, giving them the tools and walking alongside them, keeping them accountable for their decisions? Do they have consequences to correct poor behavior? The best teacher I ever had was in high school and he was a world history teacher and he was the hardest. He told us that if we didn’t remember one stupid thing about history, but we learned how to think for ourselves, he did his job. I respected that and it made class a million times better as it stretched my abilities to think. Oh, and I don’t remember squat about world history. We are not here to argue today which schooling system is best. What a heated debate that doesn’t change anyone’s mind, ever. Honestly, they all have their own black holes that will make for challenges in each group of children as well as different positives specific to each group. I know, I know, whatever you chose is the best. Not to shoot confidence out of anyone, but I know a lot of adults from a lot of different educational backgrounds and the playing field is pretty even from my observations. We would like to argue instead about that core value system that needs to be instilled in children before they leave our nest. The kind of Hebrew word for training referred to in Proverbs uses the words narrow, initiate, discipline, dedicate and train up. What few narrow things should we be focused on from a parental standpoint? Homeschool books, public school books and private school books all train but what narrow focus are we making as parents to create a core set of values in our children? Moral values need to be taught at a young age and explained why so it makes sense. I always want to know they whys of what I am doing or what I believe, our children should be no different. If they don’t know why they believe what we tell them, it will be easier for them to be led astray if they don’t truly believe in the why. It’s up to them to decide but who is training their character? Let’s talk about discipline for a minute. Yes, another hot button topic, I know. As a mother I don’t know what would have changed my child’s behavior sometimes if it were not for discipline. I don’t mean yelling empty threats at my kids and considering that work complete. I mean the follow through of negative enforcers to make my child think again when given that same situation. I’m not advocating any specific punishment at the moment – children are different and what works for one may not be necessary for another. God trains us. All through the Bible we are referred to as children of God and He trains us. He talks about how we aren’t legitimate children of His unless we are trained and corrected. He’s trained me a lot my entire life and can I tell you I have been a harsher-punishment-needed kind of child? Oh how sometimes I really do try not to envy those that are just super sweet with a super gentle nature who don’t seem to need their face get raked over hot coals for not getting it or being corrected easily! Yet still He has been merciful even in all my painful training. Training up hurts. Physically working out breaks down your muscles and prompts our organs to all function harder. We get sore, we get exhausted and we push past mental fatigue to get the gains. Training means giving something else up to focus on what we are training for. Less video game time for the kids? Less tv and phones? Riches and honor and life come from the fear of God (Proverbs 22:4). It looks like order to be successful in life we have to fear God. How do we fear Him if we don’t know Him and know what this fear looks like? This is where I believe training our children up in the knowledge of Christ is what we as parents need to be focusing a lot of our efforts on. No matter what kind of educational upbringing our children have, this is our job. We are to train them. We can’t control the choices they make when they are older but at the end our verse it says they won’t depart from it. I love that. I’d be out of place not to mention the prodigals, because I’ve met a few parents of prodigals so what about them? In my opinion, it seems as though a lot of prodigal parents I have met – and I’m sure this doesn’t apply to all – still have their kids out there somewhere. We don’t know how long their walk away might be, but they still could come back. We also don’t know what God does on deathbeds of souls who got lost. Does He speak to their hearts and they accept His love and go be with Him? God’s grace and mercy are huge and I wouldn’t put that past Him for a minute. He’s good all the time. We study and learn to fear the LORD, and then we can teach our children to fear the LORD. How do you train your kids? I would love your advice so I can add some of your techniques into my own children’s home training!