In the book of Proverbs, the issue of training a child focuses on two areas: wisdom and discipline. Regarding wisdom, we learn in Proverbs 1:7 that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." Parents are to train their children to be wise by "fearing the Lord." Throughout the Proverbs, we read the call for the "son" to hear and head the instruction and teaching of his father and mother (1:8; 2:1; 3:1; 4:1; etc.). If the child follows the path of wisdom he will be shown "length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you" (Proverbs 3:2).
Unfortunately, due to sin, our children do not naturally desire to follow the path of wisdom. So, what must parents do in order to push their children away from foolishness and toward wisdom? In Proverbs 22:15 we read: "folly is found up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him." Discipline drives folly from the child, so that wisdom can take its place.
We must never seperate what God has joined together. If we give only wisdom, but no discipline, then we do not love our child: "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him" (Proverbs 13:24). And if we have only discipline, but no wisdom, then we are simply hitting our child with no proper goal in view.
If we desire for our children to fear the Lord and follow Him in faith, then let us train them with both wisdom and discipline. Let us hold fast to the words of Proverbs 23:13,14 -"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol." Or as Cotton Mather once put it: "Better whipped than damned."