“Mama, will you read Proverbs to us?” my daughter sweetly asked as she climbed onto her top bunk. We are working our way through Proverbs, one chapter at a time. I was oh-so-tired, but how do you refuse a child’s request for wisdom?
So, I read the next chapter which included this passage:
Mean-spirited slander is heartless;
quiet discretion accompanies good sense.
A gadabout gossip can’t be trusted with a secret,
but someone of integrity won’t violate a confidence. (Prov. 11:12–13 MSG)
We talked for a few minutes about a television show we watched earlier that night. The plot followed right along with Solomon’s wise words. The girls shared a story or two about ways they have seen gossip destroy relationships. I shared a story from my high school days about the destructive power of slander. We thought of ways to avoid spreading gossip and how to walk away from it. We prayed for the integrity of our speech and spirit.
This became one of those moments to remember—when God’s Word met my kids right where they are.
Sometimes the Bible seems like a book for grown-ups. Many passages are difficult to understand. Proverbs is different. Proverbs is perfect for kids. I want my children to hear King Solomon’s wisdom. Then, when they are out in the wide, wild world, they will know the path to take. Wisdom will be their guide.
How do we make Proverbs come alive for our children?
Read an understandable translation.
I chose to read The Message to my nine- and twelve-year-olds. As they increase in age and understanding, we will likely switch from this paraphrase to a translation. Find a reliable version your kids can understand. Read enough to challenge them, but not so much that they feel overwhelmed.
Share a story from your own life.
Kids love to hear stories about their parents. We connect with our kids when we share the highs and lows of our own journey with the little ones following behind us. If a particular proverb reminds you of something from your past, good or bad, share it with your children. (I share an example here and here.)
Connect the dots to their life.
Parents encourage a love for God’s Word by showing their children how it applies to their life right now. When you read a proverb, explain how it fits with their current situation. Remind them of a good decision that demonstrated wisdom, or discuss ways they could have made a better choice by following wisdom’s way.
We can help our children learn to apply the wisdom found in Proverbs through role playing. For example, read Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.” Then, try it out. Say something inflammatory to your child and let her practice saying something gentle in return. Proverbs 13:17, “Irresponsible talk makes a real mess of things, but a reliable reporter is a healing presence,” is your cue to practice telling a story clearly, avoiding gossip and embellishments. Have fun with it!
Find wisdom in the everyday.
Don’t restrict Proverbs to family devotions or bedtime reading. Find ways to incorporate its wisdom into the daily rhythms of your family life. When your children have a difficult decision to make, guide them with the wisdom found in Proverbs. You can even point out proverbial wisdom in the movies and books you enjoy together. Watching a good-versus-evil movie together? Use Proverbs 2:12–22 to discuss the choice between following good and evil (example here).
Proverbs is a book for all of us, young and old. It provides godly wisdom for parents and children alike. Let’s be intentional parents and make Proverbs come alive for our children!