The UK Bible Students Website
Christian Biblical Studies
Bringing Up Baby
Q. ‘Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it’ (Prov. 22: 6, NIV-UK).
What does this verse mean?
A. The passage declares a general truth, and informs the God-loving reader that the direction in which we steer our children will exert a lasting influence on their characters and their future behaviour.
In his commentary on this text, Adam Clarke puts it this way (the male ‘he’, characteristic of the style of the day, referring to either sex):
‘Initiate the child at the opening (the mouth) of his path.’ When he comes to the opening of the way of life, being able to walk alone, and to choose; stop at this entrance, and begin a series of instructions, how he is to conduct himself in every step he takes. Show him the duties, the dangers, and the blessings of the path; give him directions how to perform the duties, how to escape the dangers, and how to secure the blessings, which all lie before him. Fix these on his mind by daily inculcation, till their impression is become indelible; then lead him to practice by slow and almost imperceptible degrees, till each indelible impression becomes a strongly radicated [rooted] habit. Beg incessantly the blessing of God on all this teaching and discipline; and then you have obeyed the injunction of the wisest of men. Nor is there any likelihood that such impressions shall ever be effaced, or that such habits shall ever be destroyed.
Free will naturally plays a role and beyond a certain age we shape our own lives, making choices, good and bad, and reaping the fruits accordingly. Nonetheless, the adult mind has a tendency imparted to it by the early upbringing and the lingering influences will be difficult to ignore. A wise parent is a parent still, long after death, the early wisdom and advice augmenting the conscience of the grown man or woman.