Proverbs 29:15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom,
but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
Proverbs has a lot to say about parenting, and most of it isn’t currently popular or politically correct. This particular verse speaks directly to the practice of parking a child in front of an electronic device rather than taking the time to interact with the child directly. Not so long ago that device was the TV, but currently it’s more likely to be a tablet or game device. Either way, this verse holds. The NIV and the Japanese both provide insight here. The NIV saying “left to himself” brings up the image of electronic baby sitters I’ve just mentioned, and the Japanese says “allowed to do whatever they want,” which has a strong flavor of selfishness. Both are applicable and neither is good! Parents have the responsibility and the privilege of guiding their children, and frankly, it can be hard work. This isn’t an endorsement of “helicopter parents.” Such parents squelch their children’s mental and emotional growth. The line between the two extremes can be hard to follow at times, and no parent does it perfectly. When to allow children to make their own decisions, and which decisions, calls for wisdom that we don’t naturally have, so we are forced to turn to God and ask Him for it. Thankfully, as James assures us, He will indeed give us the wisdom necessary, if we are humble enough to ask. (James 1:5) Many parents wind up owing their children apologies, but don’t feel too bad if that’s the case. Your parents weren’t perfect either!
Several years ago one of our daughters, who had caused us a good bit of trouble in her younger years, called us and said, “I know you did the best you could with me, and I want to thank you. I didn’t make it easy.” There were lots of tears on all sides of that phone call! I have written before that I feel I had really good parents, but they weren’t perfect any more than I am. (I just realized that felt really disrespectful, because I’m very aware of my own imperfections!) My children in turn have done their best in raising their children. None of us have done it perfectly, and none of us have had perfect results, but God is more than gracious. At this point I have the status and position to counsel others in their parenting, and I must always do so with humility and grace. Most people don’t appreciate unsolicited parenting advice! However, I do need to speak the truth in love as the Lord gives opportunity, because the devil loves to attack us in that area. My wisdom is never sufficient, but God’s always is.
Father, thank You for the privilege of counseling couples before their weddings, and for guiding me in doing so. Since weddings have no legal weight in Japan, many of the couples already have one or more children. My remarks on parenting are sometimes welcomed and sometimes resented. Help me always speak Your truth with Your words in Your love, so that the traps of the devil may be avoided and even destroyed. Thank You. Hallelujah!