For the past twenty plus years my wife and I have clung tenaciously to Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The reason that this was such an important verse to us is the fact that our son, Matthew, started making some bad choices around age fifteen, and those choices adversely affected his life for decades.
As you can imagine, this also had an adverse effect on our lives as well. It was frustrating, to say the very least, to know that he had all the same privileges and opportunities as his sisters, but opted to go a completely different direction with his life. During this time we found solace in two different facts:
- We knew that he didn’t learn about the things he was pursuing at home; and
- Proverbs 22:6!
At about the same time that our son’s life was going awry, so was the son of one of our good friends. Their situation was completely different, however. They had adopted their son, who came from a situation where his mother had been a drug addict. While they provided him with an excellent Christian home and the same Church Family our son was brought up in, he, too, made some bad choices around age fifteen, and those choices adversely affected his life for decades.
And there you have it – – the crux of our issue today. Our two sons, with different “Nature” backgrounds but the same “Nurture” background, both went awry. As time went by we discussed this with the other family multiple times, and came to a conclusion that answers the “Nature/Nurture” question – – at least for us: It was neither Nature nor Nurture that led these boys down the path they took, rather it was their CHOICES!!!
If you are a parent reading this I want to iterate and reiterate a very important fact: If you “trained up a child in the way they should go” you should carry no guilt, nor even responsibility of failure, for the things your children have chosen to do! I know those choices may break your hearts, as they did ours, but you are not responsible for their choices!
The GOOD NEWS is that my wife and I have lived long enough to see the promise of Proverbs 22:6 come to fruition! During those decades of anguish, and I am NOT exaggerating!, we were comforted by the words of our good friend, Dr. Don Ramsey, who had also had challenges with his sons. He pointed out that the hard part of Proverbs 22:6 is waiting for them to get old! In our case, it took almost twenty-five years for the training to “take!”
I recently asked my son what made him turn his life around. He said that three things contributed to the change: A) He realized he needed to stop being selfish and start thinking about others rather than only himself; B) He realized he needed to be thankful for what he had and not be bitter about what he didn’t have: C) He asked God to take the desire to drink away from him – – and He did!
As you will note, it wasn’t what those who loved him said or did, it was all changes he had to choose to make! At any rate, it sure is exciting to be able to tell you that that the promise in Proverbs 22:6 is real, and that we saw it fulfilled in our lives!!!