“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This verse succinctly states the durable value of training our children as well as instructing them. Teaching our children what they should know is not complete without training them to live out what they know.
What is the difference between instruction and training? Training is the practical application of a learned truth to actual life. Training involves advising our children on the appropriate application of Scripture and giving them opportunities to act out what they are learning. It also means taking the initiative with our children to correct their immature or sinful behavior and require them to do what is right.
It is not enough to know the truth; we must learn to walk in truth. As we lead our children with the principles of God's wisdom found throughout Scripture, we are helping them to establish pathways of righteousness in their hearts. When they are older, chances are they will tend to think and act according to those pathways they learned at home during the early years.
Training often requires that we take the time to interact with our children about their attitudes or actions—even if that sometimes means confrontation. And confrontation, I've noticed, is something that many parents avoid. I have often seen that parents are willing to buy their children many things and provide them with many experiences, but they tend to back away from conflict because it is unpleasant. But unless we take the initiative to gently and lovingly confront our children's sin and selfishness, they will not learn to be mature adults. We need to be willing to risk unpleasantness with our children in the interest of their growth in righteousness.
How will you determine the way in which your child should go? Are you willing to persevere and risk uncomfortable situations with your children as you train them in righteousness?