As an adult, my parents’ instructions and corrections during my days as a child still ring in my ear.
Even though I couldn’t always see the wisdom of some of the instructions, today I can appreciate why my mother would steer me away from bad company or warm me against staying out late, nagged me to always make my bed and keep my home clean and tidy. The reason given for the latter: “You never know when you might drop down a road and someone will have to carry you home, and having a nasty house will shame you,” she would remind us.
As a young adult, my mother, who I felt back them was prejudiced against dark-skinned boys of our district, tried to steer me away from dating guys from my community, especially one particular fellow who had professed undying love for me and pursued me since I was a shy 14 year old.
Many years later, to my consternation, I learnt that this man who was so in love with me was really a Casanova who had been sleeping with many different ladies even at the time he was pursuing me and I was naively deluding myself that he loved and was waiting for me.
Bed pans, values and ethics
From as early as I can recall we had chores, and I had the most ignominious of these: washing used bed pans. O how I reviled this chore. But I had to wash them, even if it meant getting creative when my mom was not looking (smile). My father always insisted on us keeping our front yard clean and when he was around, especially on a Sunday morning, every jack one of us had to sweep and rake until the place was spic and span. In the process, I learnt work ethics and cleanliness were vital. A creative spark and resilience were also ignited. Today, these have worked in my favour to sustain or get around unpleasant situations.
What instructions were not assigned verbally, my parents modelled in behaviour. They were far from perfect people, but they taught us wrong is wrong and right is right and that every action has a consequence.
Today, I value work, abhor hypocrisy, practise compassion and empathy, and resist temptations to meddle and gossip. Since I met Jesus at the age of 10, we have had a rocky marriage; I have strayed, but never too long or too far away from His love. Because of proverbial instructions planted in my heart, I never went to dance parties or nightclubs or lived wildly. I have always kept friends with similar value-sets and lived within my means because these were the standards my earthly and heavenly parents set.
I’m sure you too can think of a few values and belief systems that were instilled by your parents and which you still live by as an adult. For example, my husband is very domesticated because as a child his mother would advise him and his siblings, “Make sure you can do everything for yourself as a man”.
You too may teach your sons to do the same as you prepare them for the eventuality that they never get a wife or occasions when they could anger a vindictive wife. Whatever words or instructions your parents’ may have used to you as a youngster, you can be sure they are responsible for the person you have become today.
Handbook for Parents
I’m sure you’ll agree with me then that just as your parent’s instructions remain relevant to our lives today, the words of the ‘Father’ Solomon speaks of in the book of Proverbs continues to be good and relevant for all of life’s seasons and His children of all generations.
In it Solomon, hailed as the wisest man on earth endorsess his father’s instructions as the source of his understanding and passes these insights on to us as words to live by.
In every verse he shares uncensored and timeless guidance which children and youth should keenly reflect and rely on to keep them from following a path of folly as they grow. As the wise man clearly emphasises, it is “good doctrine” the kind which “promotes” (Read verses 7 -9 in Today’s proverb below).
What better handbook for parents as we face the challenge of growing kingdom-smart children?
Fool No more
The old folks in my country often make this cryptic and thought-provoking statement: God call fool, but him no keep dem (them).
Simply put, God calls us to come as we are, empty of knowledge and understanding about Him, but does he expect us to be good disciples of His word and gain spiritual wisdom as we spend time with Him? Most certainly.
Hence, God is not in favour of or expect any of us to remain fools, which by the way is not necessarily synonymous with one’s lack of scholastic knowledge by society’s standards. The real fool, according to the Scriptures, is one who “says in his heart there is no God.”
As the featured verse indicates, there is security in wisdom as well, and a child reared to be wise will not just be able to think independently, but will have as much hindsight as he has foresight and make prudent decisions as he or she grows, decisions that will lead him or her to avoid the seat of the scornful, meekly serve the Lord and live righteously.
It’s the only way they will fulfil the prophesy and plan for those who inherit the new earth: a little child shall lead them.
As you read what Solomon says about his parent’s instruction in Today’s Proverbs found in Proverbs 4: 1-2(NKJV), I put to you these 27 Proverbs are just as valid for kids to live by in 2015 and the 21st century as they were back in Bible times. Read and speak them to your children, write it on their long-term memories, live them.
1 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
2 For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.
3 When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 He also taught me, and said to me:
“Let your heart retain my words;
Keep my commands, and live.
5 Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
7 Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
8 Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head ian ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”
10 Hear, my son, and receive my sayings,
And the years of your life will be many.
11 I have taught you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in right paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go;
Keep her, for she is your life.
14 Do not enter the path of the wicked,
And do not walk in the way of evil.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
16 For they do not sleep unless they have done evil;
And their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness,
And drink the wine of violence.
18 But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
19 The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble.
20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
22 For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.
Your call to action: Will you join me in making these 27 instructions part of your family’s New Year resolutions?