William Paul Young made a provocative suggestion about the translation of Proverbs 22:6 in the last section of notes posted yesterday, which I have taken out and commented on separately here.

Paul Young pointed to the traditional King James Version of Proverbs 22:6 which says,

Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
(Proverbs 22:6)

He went on to suggest that the Hebrew could more accurately be translated to read:

Train up a child in their way,
and when they are old, they will not depart from it.

As far as I can tell from my meager familiarity with Hebrew, Mr. Young’s translation is probably more accurate than the translation passed down to us by the translators of the King James Version. It at least seems clear that the idea enshrined in the KJV translation that there is one common way that every child “should go” is not in fact supported by the original Hebrew.

Instead, Mr. Young suggests that the writer of Proverbs is actually pointing the reader to consider the possibility that every child has a “way” that is uniquely theirs and that the goal of parenting is, not to force all children to conform to one way, but to help each child find their own particular way.

Young asks,

What is that child’s way? 

He goes on to suggest that the role of the parent is not to impose upon the child the “way” they “should” go:

What you use as discipline with one child will be totally counter-productive with another. Every child has their way. This is about you submitting to your child as you parent and finding your child’s way.

He then expands the principle beyond parenting to suggest that the difference in translation indicates an entirely different way of viewing the world:

It is a great difference if we see the world as a construction or a creation. Faith means to trust in the indwelling wisdom of the Creator.

God has the heart of an artist, not a construction worker.

Love sees all the beauty and possibility of a soul and all the weakness, sadness and pain. God’s wisdom is a dialogue. Our life is not a construction. Creation means that everything is becoming in regard to what has already grown. Scripture says God has the heart of an artist, not a construction engineer.

This is a gentle, and respectful vision of both parenting and God.

The essential parenting roles, according to this vision are: looking, listening, and learning. We look carefully at the children in our care, listening to them, and learning from them who they are and how they were created to function most effectively given the people they are.

Children do not need to be molded or shaped by some dominant external force. They need to be encouraged to trust the wisdom and deep “knowing” that resides within them as a beings created in the image and likeness of God. They need support in learning to listen to themselves and finding within themselves the inherent knowledge for living that is in the heart of every human being.

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