Train a child in the way he should go

So I found out last week that my first child is a boy. Pretty exciting. And because I’m me, I thought I should read lots about it.

I started with The Baby Whisperer – I figured anyone claiming to be able to make every single baby perfect with minimum effort had to get their confidence from somewhere…turns out it comes from thinking you’re wonderful, eating lots of chocolate, and swearing every so often. I’m sure there are some good lessons in there – anyway, if my son’s perfect after a couple of months you’ll know where to go to find out how you can do it too!

I then discovered an interesting little article in which some guy talks about this thing he made up with his wife. They celebrate their sons becoming men in a Bar Yeshua. The article’s here.

I potentially like the idea, and I like the way his kids clearly take on responsibility when they ‘become a man’. All good so far. Then comes the curriculum for passing the ‘man test’:

  1. Knowledge of the contents of the Bible.
    • Know the names of books of the Bible in order.
    • Know Bible history.
    • Read the Bible all the way through.
    • Know main themes of biblical books.
    • Understand how Biblical teaching centers on Christ.
    • Know Greek and Hebrew (amount of knowledge tailored to the child’s ability)
  2. Memorization of selected verses and passages of the Bible.
  3. Knowledge of the major teachings of the Bible (doctrine).
    • Memorize a children’s catechism as a summary of doctrine.
    • Be able to explain doctrines and respond to questions using one’s own words.
  4. Personal piety.
    • Using devotional materials
    • Prayer diary
    • Day-long personal retreat for prayer and fasting with Daddy
    • Growth in understanding of means for overcoming sin
  5. Projects of service and mercy.
    • Serving the church; serving the needy.
  6. Wisdom in dealing with various spheres of life.
    • Finances: tithing, drawing up a year-long budget; checkbook balancing; investing.
    • Etiquette: table etiquette, greeting etiquette, letter etiquette, conversational etiquette, sexual etiquette.
    • Apologetics: answering questions and objections about Christian faith; understanding the Christian world view and the main competing worldviews and ideas in the United States.
    • Sexuality: knowing Christian teaching and standards for thoughts and actions. Understanding how God designed male and female bodies.

Um…wow? I can’t do half of that now! The age for this test is his son’s 13th Birthday, and assessment starts at 11. Drawing up a year-long budget at age 11? Learning biblical Hebrew and Greek? Memorising a catechism and the full order of Bible books?

Perhaps I’m shooting too low with expectations for my son, but does this strike anyone else as making a kid grow up a tad too quickly? Part of me thinks that a boy who’s memorised Scripture, serves faithfully in the local church and has training in apologetics has got to have a good headstart for moving out into the big wide world, but part of me can’t get away from the fact that at 12 I’d probably want him to say ‘do you want to go outside and play football’ rather than ‘have you ever wondered about John’s use of logos?’

Any thoughts, anyone? Particularly from parents of boys? Any tips would be very welcome!

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3 Responses to “Train a child in the way he should go”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Poor kids! Have they actually had children? Some children would never be intellectually capable of all that–especially at such a young age–enough to put them off for life! Love your sons–be a good role model and as they get older let them be involved in what you are doing. No parents are perfect and neither are children.

  2. Sandy Mallender says:

    Gosh where do I start? My son is 7and if he could do even a fraction of that I would be worried about his social development and would be thinking he spends too much time inside and not enough outside playing with his friends.

    Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t outside playing all the time. He can tell you that God made the world that Adam was the first man and had to name the animals, not to worship gold cows, the Easter story, that praying is having a conversation with God. He says please and thank you, shares with his sister, thinks of others and offered us lots of money (£1.53 of 1p and 2p pieces which was the entire contents of his money box) to help pay for a ferry ticket to visit Nana.

    I think children grow up too soon and don’t have enough time to just be children. I think all we can do as parents is to teach them right from wrong, provide them with guidance, and pick them up and cuddle them better when it doesn’t quite workout.

  3. Congratulations, Sam! Awesome news – when’s he due?

    As for the Bar Yeshua requirements: that’s mental. I would just about scrape past with the Bible stuff, and that’s only because I have a Theology degree. I suspect I would fail dismally at the etiquette part!

    The thing is: it’s a fundamentally good thing. All of the list is helpful, edifying, and would be the characteristics I would like to see in my children, when I have them. However, to expect them to attain such lofty heights at 13 is possibly too much. I only hope that the parents still emphasise their love for their child over and above any success at this regimen!

    And a final thought: children aren’t stupid. They’ll learn the things they need to learn, but how much of it will be heartfelt? While these are all good things to be, I suspect Jesus cares far more about their character than their doctrine.

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