Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.
Dear God, this reminds me of the line in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie when Elizabeth Swan keeps talking about the pirate code and Captain Barbosa eventually says that it’s really more of a “guideline.” That’s how I feel about this passage. It’s really more of a guideline than a rule. I suppose most of the proverbs are.
One really only had to look at biblical characters (including the author of this proverb) to see that this is a nice thought, but not a hard and fast rule. Starting with Cain and then moving throughout history, the Bible is full of stories where people tried to do the right thing by their children, but the children did not walk with you (I’m looking at you, Parents of Samson). Things happen. Life happens. Free will happens. What I’m left with is hoping that the work I did as a parent (and it was far from perfect) established some sort of a tether between my children and me so that if they wander from the path they will at least know that they are never not loved.
Father, I took this verse much more seriously 20 years ago, when my children were one and four years old. Now I have let go of it and I look to other verses about dying to myself and living by faith and not by sight to guide me. Of course we should do our best to raise up our children in the way they should go. That’s part of the deal. But this verse isn’t your promise. I’ve decided it’s just a guideline. I hope that’s not heretical to say, but it’s the best I know to say given my life experience. Guide me in who you need me to be for my two adult children today.
In Jesus’s name I pray,