One of the most delightful things I did as my wife and I raised three children was to take each of them through the book of Proverbs in the Bible.
I started each of them between the ages of 8 to 10, and we talked about “everything under the sun” as they got ready to face a tough world.
When one of my daughters had grown up and was in college, she told me this story. One of the boys she knew had received a $5,000 inheritance. He used it to buy a $10,000 car, rolled it, and then borrowed the money to buy another $10,000.00 car.
“Dad,” she said, “that isn’t wise, is it?”
“Yes!” I said. (Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, oh yes!)
So some of it seems to have rubbed off.
Here are few pointers on teaching Proverbs to children:
I invited my kids by saying something like this, “Wisdom is the right use of what little we know and what little we have. Others may be smarter or have more things than us. But, if we use what we have wisely, we will do better than someone who knows more or has more but doesn’t use those things very well.”
I may then tell them that as we talk about the Proverbs, we will be talking about how to have friends, how to use our money in the right way, what to do about anger and other issues I know they will be interested in.
It’s good to begin with chapter 10 if the child is under 13 years old.
Explore the larger passages in chapters 1-9 when they can sit still longer.
Keep the time short; 5-10 minutes max unless they are hooked and they want to go on. Keep the number of proverbs few.
Allow these times together to be “jumping off” points that allow the child to explore the meaning on their own or just explore the issues it raises. We don’t have to get a verse completely’right to make progress. We just have to get them to discuss it.
Keep them asking for more.
Kids will ask what a verse means. Draw from your own life when possible. The kids will enjoy it and ,frankly, this will make the parent look smart.
Don’t be afraid to tell kids about the dumb things you did that you learned from, within reason of course. It might even encourage them to tell you about the dumb things they did. Good to know about those. Successes are nice to talk about too.
Stress what the book says; this will make a person wise. That is, it will make them shrewd, smart, savvy or crafty in a good sense of the term. That is the meaning of the Hebrew word that is translated as “subtlety” in chapter one, verse four. As they learn to compete in a larger world, these verses give them a vital edge.
Keep these talks as “lecture free” as possible. Keep them upbeat and positive. This is not the time to remind them to pick up their clothes or be nice to their sister.
I liked the King James Version a lot. The
other versions seem weak and mushy compared to it.
Explaining the book to girls:
One outraged comment was: “It’s a boy book!”
So I had to explain a few things since the book refers to men most of the time. The word “man” is meant to include”“woman.” (Wo-man lit means the “man with the womb.”) I then pointed out”that God speaks here through the voice of a woman as a way of showing that He does not favor one kind of person over another. The girl is the wise one here. Finally, the last chapter talks about the good things a good woman does and that a smart person doesn’t overlook them. That seemed to satisfy her.
Did it work? Yeah, I think so. Our kids gave us very few problems when they became teenagers, for lots of reasons. Some kids are just easy to get along with and they make their parents look good. They also had a great mom and still do. But our conflicts were much less when compared to other families we knew. I think their being “wise” had a part in that.
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