How to “train up a child in the way he should go” so that “when he is old, he will not depart from it

     “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25).  There are as many different secular, philosophical, psychological or ‘christian’ approaches to raising a child as there are parents.  However, there is only ONE Biblical way.  Parents’ intentions can be good, kind, and loving.  They can want the best for a child.  They can invest their lives, money, time, effort, heartache, tears… but if they do not follow Biblical principles the results will be disastrous.  Yes, the Lord can turn things around, but the child (and parents) will still suffer the horrific consequences.  A spoiled child is exactly that; spolied, meaning ruined or destroyed.  
• “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”  (Proverbs 13:24)
• “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.”  (Proverbs 23:14) 
• “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” (Proverbs 29:15)
• “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”  (Proverbs 22:15) 
• “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”  (Proverbs 23:13) 

     Note that a “rod” is a thin tree branch; not the hand, a belt… and is to be used by the child’s father, in love and not in anger.  The goal is to help the child to repent and humble himself.  Being spanked on the behind by a rod is the least painful to the skin if a child submits [which is the goal of the spanking].  God also ‘spanks’ his children: 

• “Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.”  (Deuteronomy 8:5) 
• “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”  (Hebrews 12:6) 
• “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?”  (Hebrews 12:7) 
• “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty”  (Job 5:17) 

General Observations:

     Saying that a child can only be raised ‘positively’ using love or with rewards is a lie that ruins the child’s life.  If a child is not made to obey the parents than he won’t be obedient to God.  Once a person has destroyed his life, God teaching an adult how to obey is a much worse and a much more painful experience than if his parents had taught him as a child.  "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."  (Hebrews 10:31).  The Bible commands that a child “Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.”  (Ephesians 6:2-3)  When parents do not require and enforce this “honour” then they are in fact an accessory to shortening the life of the child.  What kind of love is that?  As the Bible says “He that spareth his rod hateth his son”.  If an undisciplined child doesn’t feel loved by his parents he is Biblically correct.  Giving a child material possessions or assuring a child verbally of love, while both have their place to varying degrees, doesn’t take the place of a Biblical upbringing.  Biblical love for a child is not defined as the world defines love.

     While parents must parent as a team, each parent has a unique role in parenting and each must stick to and fulfill the assigned Biblical role.  Children are a blessing and they are powerful.   “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them” (Psalms 127:5a).

     Parents must start with the Biblical assumption that the child is a sinner.  As the Psalmist wrote:  "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity" (Psalm 51:5).  The child is not born innocent.  He has a natural propensity to sin, to be selfish, lazy, unruly, stubborn, controlling, rebellious…  Not starting out with the correct (Biblical) assumption leads to a big mess.  If parents raise a child using love or their own common sense or treat the child as an adult with the assumption that he will realize that he is selfish… and change himself, the parents are deluded.  A parent must not appeal to or reason with a child.  The motto should be ‘Do as I say, when I say, how I say, with a smile’.  Age appropriate Biblical explanations, teaching, guidance… must of course be provided, but the parents must be in charge, in control.  The child must obey instantly.  The parents must win every battle.   Note that the parents should not be dictators or harsh or unkind, but that this needs to be accomplished with a spirit of humbleness and love.  Parents must be able to direct a child with their eyes, so that the child will be able to say “Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD”  (Psalms 25:15a) and so that the Lord will be able to "instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye."  (Psalms 32:8)

     Biblical rearing will make the child feel happy, safe, and secure.  Nothing else will.  Without it the child will feel lost, confused, directionless, guilty, sad… and he will end up ruined.

     A child must be raised on a steady diet of ‘Bible’.  If children’s minds are exercised they have the ability to literally memorize large parts of the Bible.  Teaching a child the wisdom contained in Proverbs prepares him for life.   Sending him to school does not.  “The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken:  lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?”  (Jeremiah 8:9).  In Deuteronomy 17 God gives instructions to kings.  Part of those instructions say:  "And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel."  (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).  Imagine applying this principle to a child's education and having a child copy out the Bible.

     TV and secular music should never be a part of a child’s upbringing.  It teaches, and everything it teaches is unbiblical and therefore destructive.  The devil tries to get young people to ruin their lives as quickly as possible.   If a child grows up watching TV, listening to rock music, and going to school, his life will be destroyed before his grown-up life ever begins.  He will have the wrong or twisted (and therefore Satan’s) view on life, marriage, family, love, right/wrong, beauty, consequences, responsibility, freedom, strength, the goal of life, and even on what it means to be ‘grown-up’.

     Instead, a child must be taught to “honour” his parents and out of that honouring grows “the fear of the LORD” which “is the beginning of wisdom”  (Psalms 111:10).  A child must not be praised for achievements, only for Godly character.  A child must be given responsibility and must do lots of age appropriate work.  The goal of his life should be communicated to him.  Biblical gender roles should be made clear.  He must be raised as a “pilgrim” on this earth.  Earthly riches and knowledge and power are never to be set before the child as desirable and valued.  (Parents need to model this by their lives.)  The child should never be encouraged to pursue these.  All work and studies undertaken must be pleasing to God and in accordance with His Word.  The child should be steered towards an occupation the performing of which won’t result in the child sinning against God’s commands.

     The Bible promises parents that if they “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).  That is great incentive and reward.  An army of children Biblically raised is really like arrows in a father’s quiver, very powerful, and therefore Satan will do everything he can to prevent the raising of Godly children.