Kids

As a Dad, I get Proverbs 17:21. It drives me crazy when my kids do things that are ill-advised, and it breaks my heart when they do things that they know are wrong. The fact that they are only young children really doesn’t negate this, but at least I have the consolation of knowing that they are young and therefore still learning. But in the words on this proverb, I find something very sad. Solomon exhorts his son, “A man father’s a fool to his own sorrow; the father of a fool has no joy.”

See, I don’t think Solomon was talking about a very small child. Instead, he was referring to children that grow up and still do stupid and blatantly wrong things. These are fools, and I can certainly understand why they would bring anything but joy to their parents.

But I also notice something very significant about this verse. The King James Version words it like this: “He that begetteth a fool doeth it to his sorrow.” The English Standard Version words it like this: “He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow.” And the Amplified Version puts it like this: “He who becomes the parent of a [self-confident] fool does it to his sorrow.”

Did you notice the common thread in these various translations?

The joy-suck here is not founded in anything that the child does. It’s founded in what the parent does.

Let me put it this way: if you raise your kids to be fools, it will go very badly for you.

Oh, but how would I raise my kids to be fools? Sadly, I can think of many instances from my own example. When I say something inappropriate, I show them how to not control their tongue. Like a fool. When I do something wrong, I demonstrate to them what they can get away with for themselves. Like a fool. When I tell them to do something one way, but then do it totally different for myself, I give them an excuse to be a hypocrite. Like a fool. When I act like a fool, or teach them foolish things, I’m shooting myself in the foot.

And you know what really gets me about this? It’s generally so much easier – and more fun – to do and say the foolish things! It’s so much easier to raise fools than to instill wisdom! In fact, I know for a fact that I can do a pretty good job of raising fools without really trying at all.

But I have to work hard to raise children who will some day be wise.

It’s hard work now, but it will yield dividends when I don’t have to agonize over the stupid things that the kids are doing later in life.

So, I guess I need to redouble my efforts to demonstrate wisdom for my kids and encourage them to pursue the same. Talk about a challenge! See, I don’t know that I can do it. I’ve certainly done foolish things in my life! I don’t know that I’m even remotely qualified to teach my kids wisdom! But that’s my job. So, I’ll try.

I’ll try. And when I fail, I’ll apologize, beg their forgiveness, and try again. And again. And again.

I’ll try.

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