Train up children in the way they should go; even when they are old they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6, NASB1995).
Recently I noticed one of my granddaughters had a blue hand.
This wasn’t a surprise since she previously had a yellow hand, a red face, and purple feet. She loves magic markers and thinks the world, or anything she sees while having a magic marker in her hand, should have more color.
I said to her, “I see that you have a blue hand today.” Her response in a rather matter-of-fact tone was, “Yes, all the other kids in pre-school are allowed to use magic markers except me.”
HHHHMMMHHHM! My response – laughter!
My daughter describes my granddaughter as “She has bursts of artistic creativity.” I agree, and before we had the interior of our house repainted, we had several “bursts of artistic creativity” magic marker murals on walls.
I admit that when I first noticed the murals in my house, my response wasn’t laughter. Whenever I got upset with my children or get irritated with my grandchildren, my wife says to me, “Remember how you were raised.”
How was I raised?
With any big idea I had, my father didn’t demean the thought or talk about impossibility. He sat down with me and worked out a way to accomplish it.
I had lots of failures, could be destructive with his tools, and even tried to remodel the front door of our childhood home once.
My dad laughed.
I continue to learn as a grandparent – to raise up as I was raised.
My wife handles the escapades of “raise up” with more aplomb than I do. She was better with our children and is better with our grandchildren. I often have a fit before I get to the aplomb. My standard line when my children did something destructive was, “This is going to be so expensive; there goes your college education.”
The phrase “there goes your college education” is still legend at family dinners today. And despite my threats, all of them have college degrees.
I’m more lenient with my grandchildren, and I even find myself encouraging their ideas while thinking, “How can I help them?” So far, it has involved new bicycles, almost endless hours of watching youth sports, and I will help them with short-term mission trips when they are in high school or college.
I’ve listened to pastors/preachers/teachers indicate the application of “raise up children in the way they should go, and later they won’t depart from it” as something like “Take your kids to church and make them memorize Bible verses, and after they have enjoyed a few rebellious years, they will return to the faith.”
Often parents who apply this rule don’t follow the Lord closely, with the erratic nature of their children’s behavior being exactly how they were raised. I, however, had parents who prayed, read the Bible, and loved Jesus.
My parents didn’t argue. They wanted the best for me and helped me develop an “I can do this” attitude.
I prayed to be a parent like my parents, and now I want to be a grandparent who encourages magic marker creativity rather than showing frustration over murals on walls or colored hands.
After all, their parents can worry about their college education.