Lazy Children?

Proverbs 22:6

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

I once heard a popular Bible teacher say that to “train up a child” means to “guide a child according to his natural bent.” Though I’m no one to argue with a theologian, it does seem a bit of a stretch to me. Why can’t we just take the Bible at its word?

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to observe how this verse is true and can be taken literally. It applies both to training up a child in the way he should go, and in the way he should not go: in both cases, he will not depart from it.

What do you think about raising children with no chores, no internet restrictions, and no responsibilities except school? I know a lady who exacts nothing from her children apart from their school work. Once their homework is completed, they’re allowed to spend limitless time on their phones. They sleep when they want, and they get up when they want unless they have to go to school.

Her philosophy runs along these lines: “My children need to be children, therefore I allow them to play (surf the internet) as much as they want; my children should not be forced to do chores, therefore the only thing I expect from them is that they do well in school so they can go on to university and have a good career; then, they will have to work hard, but for now, let them enjoy their childhood; and I don’t restrict what they view online since they need to get to know the world and what’s out there.”

Well to me, this reasoning is flawed in several ways. But, my aim is not to chew apart every erroneous particle of her approach; I simply want to show you how her method is working out. In the real world.

Her children are now young adults, and yes, they are doing well in school. They are nice; they are friendly. They don’t pick fights with people; they’re not cruel. Yet, they are lazy whenever they get the chance. They lack consideration for others. They won’t lift a finger to help unless forced to. If ever confronted about their behavior, they will make excuses or even argue. They view anything they want to on their phones. Sometimes this is helpful; but I suspect that sometimes, it is not. They do not know the meaning of “serving others,” nor do they understand why this would be important. They are selfish and arrogant. They live mostly for themselves. This is the way they were trained to be, and this is the way they are turning out. What do you know–the Bible was right.

I wonder how this will affect them in their future jobs? Will they be good workers? I wonder how they will be once they get married and have children? Will they ever recognize that that they need to change? If they do, it will probably take a lot of hard work to undo the patterns that have been established over the years.

Sadly, there are many children who are being “trained” to be lazy and self-centered. Their parents don’t intend for them to turn out that way–it just happens. Sometimes we train our children through what we impose upon them, what we expect from them. We use rules, rewards, and discipline. Other times, we train our children not so much through what we teach them to do, but through what we allow them to do. We don’t have to train them to be lazy; all we have to do is not expect them to make their beds. If we allow them to do whatever they want when they’re children, why should they listen to us once they become adults? They’ll simply continue the habits we’ve let them develop. Train a child…and he will not depart from it. That’s not elusive theology–that’s reality.


6 thoughts on “Lazy Children?

  1. I loved this post, and agree with all points!! In fact, I’ve actually printed it off to read with our children – first time ever! (I have notebooks of things for myself to re-read, but I’ve never printed anything to share with them.) Thanks for writing these important words.


  2. Glad you liked it! Actually, I felt a little bad after posting the article, since I prefer to publish material that is mostly positive instead of negative. But, it’s good to know that you’ve found it helpful!


  3. Dear Jessica,
    With your illustration, I can see where the original sin nature comes into play. Children (and some adults) will naturally take the path of least resistance in anything they do, unless it’s something enjoyable to them.
    Training is an action word. It takes action on our part to train them. We really do our children a disservice to let them go their own way. I mean, how cute and adorable is it to see a little child waving and smiling at others during a church service? I love seeing little ones do this, but it becomes not so cute in a few years when the child can’t sit still, constantly turns around in their chairs, gets up, walks around, talks out loud, ect…generally is disruptive and distracting. They have been taught disrespect essentially. Gentle and persistent guidance is needed with maybe just a hand on the child’s shoulder week after week to redirect then back to the front, or learning that there’s times to be quiet and listen, and there’s times to play. Left unchecked, these same children grow into the adults that don’t turn off their cell phones during service.
    Again, like you said, training begins in the home. So many, many things begin in the home! Like the example you gave, you can’t be a permissive parent. It can be so damaging to the children. You can’t just throw your hands in the air and let go of the reins. Nothing good comes from that except for a horse possibly careening off a cliff!
    Long post again. Just my normal ramble 🙂 Thanks for this, Jessica. Good reminder to be persistent and intentional in my training. -Ruthie


    1. I love your rambles! Thanks for the wisdom you just shared with us. I agree wholeheartedly, Ruthie! It’s such a good feeling to be reminded that I’m not alone in this (parenting), and to be encouraged by you and by other ladies.


  4. Yes,I think that same phenomenon is also seen in Japan. Sharing and serving others are often despised, compaired with effort to win the competition. Many parents let their children go to cram school here. In teens,many children get so busy with schooling,club activity,cram school.And they are apt to do only what they want (game,internet etc) when they can stay at home.Because they don’t have much time.

    They have to use many time to make effort for themselves. So little time to use to serve others.

    One Chinese-Vietnamese girl(classmate of my son) told me about her problem. She studies so hard, going cram school,now gets excellent result.
    She is so kind and nice girl but said ‘The number of my friends is getting so decreased recently.’She is now so busy.She does not have enough time to play with her friends,and support them.

    Serving,helping,sharing.Value of these things are not well taught at public school.So we Japanese christians have to teach our kids at home.

    I was impressed your exact observation eyes.Please keep on sharing!


    1. Thank you, Sanae!
      Yes, it’s not that school is bad, but that we sometimes place an extreme emphasis on it, to the exclusion of all, or most, else. There must be a balance. Because even school and extracurricular activities can be another way of being selfish, of looking out for #1 (ourselves first), of viewing our personal development and achievements as a priority over serving and helping others and spending time developing relationships. Also, this over-emphasis on education and on “me-time” doesn’t leave us much time for the things of God–for Bible study and Christian fellowship.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the issue which is happening to your son’s classmate. You must be a person who is very easy to talk to since so many children tell you their experiences! Reading your comments and seeing the compassionate way you talk about sensitive issues makes me think all the more how this must be so! Thank you for your friendship!


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