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God will turn this plea to promise

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” These are the words of the well-known, often-quoted Bible verse found in Proverbs 22:6 (KJV).

I am sure I heard it first as a young child. As a youth, it seemed to explain to me why Momma’s discipline hurt my feelings. As a parent, I hear this verse as a plea, and the words are revised slightly. It sounds a little something like this. “Lord, help me to hold out until these children are grown and out of my house.”

The truth is, I do think of this scripture often when I think of parental responsibility. I am sure I am not alone in my concern whether I am getting it right.

As many parents are now facing the imminent prospect that their children are leaving home after graduation, I think the question on their minds is simply, “Will they remember?”

Remember what? Will they remember what you have taught them? Will they remember who they are? You fill in the blank with whatever you have been praying will stick and stay with your child beyond your doors. Most of us are silently pleading with God that the lessons will remain.

It is said that a mother is closest to God when she is experiencing childbirth labor. I disagree. I feel the closest to God when my child breaks my heart. When he does not seem to remember what I have said numerous times before and does not do what he has been instructed to do, it is at that moment that I feel my Heavenly Father’s eyes watching me.

Almost instantly after I say to my son or daughter, “how many times have I told you….”,  I am reminded of the many times God told me to do something and I do not follow His ways. How can I expect any differently from my children if I do not obey the rules? That’s when I thank God for His written word. The scriptures promise us that if we hide God’s law in our hearts, meaning that we practice and remember it often, we will not sin against God.

This brings me to the second gift every graduate should not leave home without. Along with the knowledge of what is important, every child that leaves home needs rules. I am not talking about rules you make up and stuff in her back pocket just before she walks out the door. I am talking about the rules that have governed your home throughout her life with you as her overseers. Rules and reminders are gravely important to your developing achiever.

If you visit any college or university campus, you will find that they have established rules and regulations that govern student conduct and decorum. But there is a gray area that young people find themselves in when they leave home. Let’s call it “outside campus.” Young people do not yet understand boundaries so well. They do not recognize that though they may be outside of Mom and Dad’s home, parental covering stretches beyond their door not just because their dollars are contributing to the child’s care but also because parents are accountable to God for the upbringing of their heirs. Therefore, a child is never really “outside campus.” As the parent, it is your responsibility to help them understand that rules in the house will extend outside campus, on campus and wherever he or she may go.

Freedom comes with responsibility. During my military service, whenever we could leave the military base when the ship was deployed, it was understood that we were on liberty. However, we were instructed prior to liberty call that the rules that govern us in the uniform extend wherever we go outside. In fact, I still have trouble walking on green grass because I was not allowed to walk on grass in uniform. I share this to say, that if you instill the rules in your children before they depart, it will remain, and it will protect them outside of your arm’s reach.

I recommend discussing these rules with them numerous times before they leave. You may even want to present a rule book to them as a parting gift. Make it fun but help them understand it is serious. When they call home, ask them when the last time was they reviewed the rules. The rule book should not just consist of a list of don’ts, but it should also have do’s.

Most importantly, help him understand that the rules are necessary because of the demand on your child’s life. When he obeys the rules, it ensures that the second part of the plea of Proverbs 22:6 is fulfilled. The verse promises that “when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

The harsh reality is that many of our children do not grow old because of their own disobedience. Obey his ways and watch God turn a plea into a fulfilled promise like only He can.

  QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of Nonprofit Leadership and Management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.