The Letter

Direct your children onto the right path,
and when they are older, they will not leave it
.
Proverbs 22:6 NLT

A solitary letter, addressed and dated, lay among other stuff.

The text from my daughter read, “Hope chest treasures.” Along with it came a picture. My father had made her a small cedar chest she called her hope chest. In it, she placed things she hoped to use when she got married, along with other sentimental items. I recognized the handwriting on the letter as mine. The date was eighteen years earlier.

“What does the letter say?” I texted back.

“You don’t remember,” she responded.

“Of course not.”

“Well, you can read it when you come to the house.”

I hurried my wife, and we made our way to our daughter’s home.

“Where’s the letter,” I quickly said.

She handed it over, and I eagerly opened it. She and I had just finished a five-day backpacking trip. In the letter, I told her how much fun I had had, how much I loved her, and how I hoped she would always feel comfortable coming to me when she needed to talk. I think my hope that she placed in her hope chest came true.

Parenting is tough, but the writer of the proverb says training children correctly has its advantages. The proverbs in the book of Proverbs are not absolutes but norms. Usually when a child is taught the right way, they follow it—even though they may temporarily stray. I am proof of the truth—as is my daughter. My son is still straying.

An African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” And it does. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, school teachers, church teachers, deacons, preachers, etc. Training them spiritually is essential, but so is training them to use the gifts and talents God has created in them. This means allowing them to follow their God-ordained employment or professional path, whether it’s the one I’d prefer or not. God doesn’t want a world filled with only preachers, evangelists, and missionaries.

Training children takes time. It’s easier to throw a tech gadget their way, to sit them in front of the television, or to simply bail them out when they get into trouble. Teaching them and creating an atmosphere where they’ll feel comfortable talking requires effort and time.

God is more than willing to give you the wisdom to raise your children. Depend on Him for it. Don’t try to go it alone.

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