It’s been said, “Better to build boys and girls than repair men and women.” Those are very wise words and emphasizes the responsibility of parents.

Tied to each newborn baby brought home from the hospital is a set of parental emotions ranging anywhere from anticipation to anxiety. Tugging at the heart of every parent is the nagging question, “What do I do next?”

No child comes with instructions. About the time we have a handle on this ‘parent thing’ the children are all grown and out of the house. The greatest fear I have as a parent is what do I do if I find out after all the years that I’ve done it all wrong.

Psalm 127 is a great Bible passage about parenting…

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.” (Psalm 127)

Solomon (the human author) tells us that children are like arrows. So, who are the archers? The Parents. It is the privilege of parents to shoot the arrows (children) into the world. Skill is needed in handling the arrows – the amount of tension on the bow, the position of your arms and shoulders, where you fix your eyes in relation to the tip of the arrow, the release, etc. Good archery is a skill.

But all the skill in the world is useless if the arrows are bent. And guess what? All our little arrows (children) are bent.

All children have a bent toward being good and toward God.

Every baby has been created in the image of God and in the likeness of the Creator (Genesis 1:26-27). The wording ‘image of God’ indicates that every child has a certain fingerprint of divinity. Within each person is a fingerprint of God searching for fulfillment. This means that each person is entitled to dignity and worth.

All children have a bent toward evil.

Parents do not have to teach children to do wrong. Rather, we must teach children to do right. This is due to the natural sin nature in all of us (Romans 3:23). It is so much a part of us that we simply call it ‘human nature.’ For instance, you have to instruct children to tell the truth, but you never have to sit down and teach them to lie. That’s part of their bent. It comes naturally. Every child is bent toward evil.

All children have a unique bent toward parents.

Besides every child’s natural bent toward evil, all children have a specific bent toward a particular evil. Exodus 34:7 tells us that we somehow inherit the tendency toward particular sins from our father and its effects are passed through our family.

“Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:7)

An example of this process is Abraham’s family. Abraham lied about his wife Sarah, saying she was his wife (Genesis 12:10-20). He did this twice (Genesis 20:1-20). His son, Isaac, lied about his wife, Rebekah (Genesis 26:1-11). And his son, Jacob, lied to his father (Genesis 27:1-8). The family sin of lying was passed from generation to generation.

It is an interesting observation that ‘sins of the fathers’ are visited on their children. A visit doesn’t mean the sin needs to stay. But a wise parent will recognize their own weaknesses, seek forgiveness and victory, and prepare their children to overcome these temptations.

So, what can parents do? Into your quiver, God has placed particularly designed arrows. The arrows, however, are bent. A wise parent will examine and understand the arrows before they are shot into the world. Childrearing, like archery, is difficult to master. But the rewards are endless.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 4)

Here are a few practical lessons as you send your arrows into the world:

  • Introduce your child to Jesus Christ.
  • Pray for insight into your child’s character.
  • Become a student of your child.
  • Be consistent.
  • Prepare for the launch.
  • The best way to change your child’s direction is to change your own.

Do you have other lessons you’ve learned?

You can read some of my other articles about parenting: The hardest job in the world – being a parentWhy children of Christian parents abandon the faith, 8 things grandparents can do.