Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 KJV
Train [Or Start ] a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 NIV
It has come to my attention that many Christian parents have interpreted the above verse to mean that they must train infants and young children in the way one might train an animal. I believe that this interpretation is not correct. I base this conclusion on the following study:
The Hebrew word which is translated as “Train” in Proverbs 22:6 is kha-nokh. When I cut and paste the real Hebrew חנך into the Hebrew-English Dictionary, it shows these words “to guide, to tutor, to educate ; (biblical) to teach” as well as “to inaugurate, to dedicate, to consecrate” as the NIV translation mentions. You can try it for yourself using the links I provided.
In the same verse, “Child” is Na-ar, נַּעַר which translates as “youth, youngster, adolescent ; (law) minor; (biblical) servant, armsbearer.” This word can be used for infants, or very young children but is more often used for youth, adolescents and adults. It is clear to me that everything in the Bible which refers to discipline is referring to youth, adolescents and adults.
I am also deeply concerned about the concept that we have a right to control a child’s heart. Insisting that they always obey with a “happy heart” only teaches them to hide their true feelings. Michael Pearl says, “If a child shows the least displeasure in response to a command or duty, it should be addressed as disobedience.” Since he teaches to correct all disobedience with the rod, it is obvious that he is saying to switch the child until they are showing nothing but happiness. He promises that switching the child will produce a happy child and demonstrates it with countless anecdotes. It seems obvious to many readers of these stories that the child has no choice but to act happy, as any other show of emotion only means more switching. For more about hearts see Jo’s arguments.