Proverbs 22:6 reads “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Many think this verse is only expressing a general rule and not an absolute. No doubt the Bible does contain some instruction and consequences that are only meant to be taken as a rule of thumb, but Prov 22:6 is not one of them.
Just like Matt 6:33 guarantees in an absolute sense that the necessities of life will be provided us if we will seek God first, Prov 22:6 guarantees in an absolute sense that our children will grow up and live as faithful Christians if we raise them correctly. The problem is with our training. Which of us parents does a perfect job (no mistakes, I John 2:1) of training our children in the way he should go the whole time we are bringing them up? I dare say none of us (I John 1:8,10), and certainly not me. But if we did, God’s guarantee of a successful result is firm.
This understanding is confirmed by the qualifications given for an elder. Tit 1:6 says an elder must have “faithful children,” while I Tim 3:4 says an elder must be “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.” Obviously there is a connection between doing a good job raising our kids and our kids growing up to be faithful Christians.
In practical terms, what this text is saying is – Every time a parent makes a mistake, he increases the chances of his children not being faithful when they grow up. My memory is bad but it seems like about the time I became a Christian everybody thought Prov 22:6 was absolute and Matt 6:33 was just a general rule. I think some even thought Matt 7:7 was a general rule. But all three of them are absolutes. God means what He says whether we agree with it or not.