Much harm has been done by preachers who have preached Proverbs 22:6 with a sense of guarantee: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Many parents have incriminated themselves because their children departed from their Christian upbringing and teaching. Since the preacher proclaimed the text as a guarantee, the parents felt that they were evidently lacking in their parenting because their children did not lead exemplary Christian lives. However, this interpretation would seem to contradict the situation of Josiah, the godly king of Judah, who had an evil father (Amon), a wicked grandfather (Manasseh), and a righteous great-grandfather (Hezekiah). The book of Proverbs states the principles that, when embraced, generally will give expected results.

This text really says that children will not depart from the “way” because the “way,” or the “teaching,” is in them. The prodigal son came back home to his father not because he attended a revival and was convicted of his waywardness but because the “way,” or the “teaching,” of his father remained in him.

Like a medicinal time-released capsule, the “way” began to speak to him in the pigpen, and he went home with a different attitude than the one he had when he left home. Christian parents whose children have departed from the teachings they were exposed to in their home need to cease punishing themselves and emulate the father of the prodigal son who kept the calf fattened in expectation of the return of the son. (Cf. Luke 15:23) Robert Smith Jr, (Doctrine That Dances, B.H. Publishing Group, 2008), 21-22