Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
—Psalm 127:4

How do you parent with S-U-C-C-E-S-S? The “U” in this acrostic stands for successful parents UNDERSTAND, accept, and develop their child’s unique bent.

I love the story about the mother who went to a feminist convention. When she returned, her young daughter excitedly said, “Mommy! I decided what I want to be when I grow up!” The mom said, “What is it?” She said, “I want to be a nurse.” The mom said, “In today’s world you don’t have to settle for being a nurse! You can be a doctor; you can be a CEO! Why, you can be president of the United States! You can be anything you want to be!” The little girl said, “Really? I can be anything I want to be?” The mom said, “Yes!” So the girl said, “Okay then, I want to be a horse.”

Wise parents don’t try to mold their children to be what they want their children to be. Each child is handwoven by the Lord with unique talents and interests, and a wise parent understands that. Perhaps the most well-known verse about parenting is also the one that is most misapplied. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Most people think that verse is a promise that if we teach our children biblical values and bring them to church, then they will always follow God. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of us can think of instances in which a child was trained correctly and had Christian values instilled in them by their parents, and yet at a point in their life they wandered away from God and never returned.

This verse is not a promise; it is a prescription for how to train our children. You see, the phrase “in the way he should go” means according to his individual bent. In other words, get to know your child. Understand your child’s personality, inclinations, likes, and dislikes. And then train that child accordingly. Help your children develop that bent, because even when they are old, they are never going to stray from that unique bent in their life.

If your child has an inclination toward music, she will always be drawn to the piano bench. If your child is more intellectual than athletic, it doesn’t matter how many sports teams you sign him up for, he is never going to be a star athlete. A wise parent doesn’t try to mold his child into what he wants him to be but truly understands, accepts, and develops the unique gifts, personalities, and desires of that child.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Parenting with S-U-C-C-E-S-S” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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