“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
As a child myself, I have seen this verse used to lay the burden of guilt and blame on parents whose children do not behave in the prescribed way.
“They must not have raised their children right if they are doing that.”
“Clearly their children don’t know how to manage their finances, their parents must not have taught them.”
Sometimes these voices come from other people, but sometimes these voices can come from within a parent’s own head.
As a child, I want to bring my perspective to these verses and explore what I think Solomon may have been trying to say.
You see training isn’t prescribing a certain set of behaviour, it is a negotiated process. A negotiated process is one where coach and trainee sit down and talk about what the person’s goals are in all areas of their life and then implement plans together to help the trainee reach these goals. These goals may change over time, but the role of the coach is to encourage trainees to meet these goals.
Essentially, it is teaching a set of values and principles which trainees can apply to other areas in their life.
Training is starting a conversation and creating a safe space for children and individuals to explore themselves, God and their world.
You may feel unprepared to start talking to your children about money, but training requires it of you. Training doesn’t require you to have all the answers, it simply asks you to journey with your children as they discover the financial world for themselves. What is important to them? Help them develop financial goals, even from a young age and listen to them.
In those verses, I think what Solomon is urging parents to consider is creating a space where these conversations can and do occur, and occur often.
This does not mean if you train your child they won’t make choices you disagree with or behave in ways which defy your teaching. Training is about being able to listen and communicate, even when you don’t agree with your child’s behaviour.
At the end of the day, if you teach your children how to talk about money they will hold onto that skill for the rest of their lives, even if their financial story doesn’t look the way you would want it to. And I believe that is the intention behind this verse.
If you train your children to communicate about money, they will.
Even if the unique decisions don’t align with your purpose for their life, they will know how to talk to you and others about these decisions. They will be trained to think critically about their own financial story and they will not depart from this habit.
So I want to encourage you parents, don’t be afraid if your children are making decisions you don’t approve of. This verse is a proverb of comfort, not pressure. You have built things into your children, things even you do not see. Make patience and grace your mandate for these days when you don’t understand them and it will speak volumes to the children you love.
Mercedes van Noppen is a writer, second year university student and daughter of David and Rebecca van Noppen. She enjoys sharing her parents quirky financial stories wherever she goes!