Parenting Problems


By Carol 

“We’ve been praying for that boy of yours. It must be hard to watch him stray so far.  We’re praying you’ll figure out what went wrong. What item have you missed in the train a child up instructions that caused this sad turn of events.” 

Have you had that conversation yet? The one that says there’s a formula for raising children who stay true to the faith and clearly you’ve missed the boat, to the point where your child may not spend eternity with you in heaven? 

So what is it that could prompt a caring fellow believer to heap such coals on your head? 

Let’s move to the Scripture that gave rise to this idea: Proverbs 22:6, which says, “Train a child up in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (KJV). 

If you’re like many Christian parents, that verse has been a part of your spiritual reference point for years. You took the instruction seriously and did your best to train these children in the ways of God. And yet, something went awry. You took them to Sunday school. You discussed living as God intended around the dinner table. Didn’t speak one way and live another. You thought you had covered it well. But something  went offtrack. 

Have you turned to that verse pleading with God to fulfill the promise you’ve been told resides in that verse? How many times did you say, “Lord, I trained her up in the way she should go, but she departed from it. What is that about?”  

So the only obvious place to go from here, since God always keeps His promises, is that you did something wrong.    

And when we come to such a conclusion, we now carry the excruciating burden of the possibility that we may not see our child’s face in heaven because WE BLEW IT.

I’m sorry that this verse has been so badly abused, and sometimes used to pound on your already tattered hearts as you have cried and prayed over this child. A poor understanding of Proverbs, turns this book into a tool used to beat on grieving parents.

What do we do with a seeming promise that isn’t yet fulfilled? I posed this to a few knowledgeable people and learned how to read Proverbs. I, like so many others, had believed this verse to be a promise.

Proverbs are directions on how we should live. They incorporate truths about the nature of God and mankind. Proverbs are sayings that in general are accurate and full of wisdom, straight from God, but are not intended to be promises.

Do you know anyone who is financially well-off and yet is lazy to the bone? Or some really hardworking people, lovely people, who are nonetheless poor? (Prov. 10:4)

You shouldn’t know either of these. 

In fact, it’s downright impossible – that is if all the sayings in Proverbs are to be taken as promises. Don’t misunderstand my purpose in this chapter. I believe Scripture is inspired, including the book of Proverbs. However, there is a difference in proverbs that describe and those that prescribe. A gentle answer doesn’t always turn away wrath (15:10), but in general, it’s better to respond calmly to an angry person. This is an example of a proverb that describes a general truth. 

A proverb such as 14:31, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God,” prescribes an absolute. God cares for the needy, and we’re to honor Him by doing the same.

So when we hear, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” we have learned something that is wise, that is useful, that is instructive. This is an example of a descriptive proverb. It is full of God’s best for our lives. We should certainly do so to the best of our ability. 

But it is not a guarantee, nor was it ever intended to be so, that our child will not “depart from it,” leave the faith, or engage in a harmful lifestyle, even temporarily. You’ve raised this child in the way she should go. You really have done what you were supposed to do. Set down the burden  you’ve been carrying and know that you’ve fulfilled your duty. You’ve given her good instruction. You’ve put into her mind and heart truths that she carries with her. But at this point, it’s up to her. As always, God asks that we come to Him willingly, not forcibly. 

Now it’s between her and God.

Carol Barnier shares her journey from a Christian home to Atheism and back to the Christian faith. more


Being filled with God's love is the only thing that will protect our daughters from a culture that values form over substance and insists that image and conformity lead to love and acceptance. more

Current Culture

Encouragement for parents working through the guilt associated with a prodigal child. more


There are events our adult children may encounter that are simply outside our ability to impact. So what is a parent of an adult child to do when it seems there is nothing they can do? more


The industry gives kids free games for their cell phones and then uses pop-ups to lure them into seeing hardcore pornography. more

Current Culture

Looking deeper to find reasons and develop ways to help young people remain faithful through their college years and beyond. more


Facing the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy is difficult for any family. Here are some of the things you need to know as you face the reality of your child’s pregnancy, more


What can the church do to ensure that our young people continue along the path that their parents and the church so lovingly nurtured them along? more

Church Life

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right—which is why we may feel invisible some days more


While our kids must navigate their own crossings between home faith and adult faith, there are things that parents can do to at least give them a “leg up", in passing on real faith. more


Loving our children even when they have walked away from the values and faith they were raised with reveals to them the depth of your love for them. more


God’s truth needs to be sorted from the enemy’s lies. I cannot allow my daughter’s actions to define me, but I can, through God’s help, allow them to refine me. more


Sarah Young

Sarah Young

  • Sarah Young

    Jesus Always: 10 Tips for a Joy-Filled Life

    Jesus Calling was written to help people connect not only with Jesus, the living Word, but also with the Bible-the only infallible, inerrant Word of God. Sarah endeavors to keep her devotional writing consistent with that unchanging standard. more

email signup
Our store
Subscribe Now!
Ad slot 5