The One Thing Children Don’t Need To Learn

Not a single child in all of history has ever needed to be taught to be foolish. Folly just comes naturally.

I was speaking at a camp for middle school students this summer just outside of our town. My wife and nine-year old son decided they would like to drive out and join us for the evening. They didn’t know if they would make it in time for the evening meal, so Shelly told him to pack a meal to go.

They made it to camp in time for dinner so the packed meal remained in the bag it was brought in. Later that night, I opened it up to see what was inside and discovered the following contents.

While his dinner maybe missing a couple essential food groups (or all of them), he does get high marks for color and consistency.

We see similar examples of folly all the time in children. Running with scissors and not looking before crossing the street are due to folly. It’s why a child will eat donuts until they throw-up. Nearly all trips to the principal office are folly related. Folly is why teens surf on cars and jump from buildings without thinking about the importance of landing.

What can we attribute all of our “seemed like a good idea at the time” moments to? Folly. Folly prevents people from considering the outcome of their actions.

Proverbs 22:15 tells us, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.”

Children do not naturally gravitate toward wisdom because their hearts having something stuck to them that prevents them from making good decisions. So parent’s have been given the responsibility to “unbound folly”… to drive it far from them through the use of discipline. We might say our job is to be “folly extractors.”

Discipline removes folly and replaces it with wisdom. This could be through verbal warnings, time-outs, loss of privilege, spankings (given in love), or other forms of discipline. Correction should always begin with the least severe method and increase only when the more gentle method fails to bring about change. We know that forms of discipline must change as our children grow older, but the mission remains the same.

But have to stay the course. We must remain vigilant. Unlike wine, uncorrected folly doesn’t get better with age. The stakes get higher and the consequences become more severe.

No parent enjoys discipline, but we cannot allow folly to bind their hearts. To not discipline is to not love. Sparing our children from the potential consequences of foolishness is the most loving thing we could do for them.

How have you seen this relationship between folly and discipline in your own childhood, as a parent with your children or with other children/parents?