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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

July 9, 2024

Rēad to Read …Again

Daily Reading: Psalm 120-132


Psalm 127:4

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.


The English poet John Milton once wrote, “Childhood shows the man, as morning shows the day.”  The morning hours of a day indicate the weather for the day. Jesus testified to this saying, And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring… (Matthew 16:3). The morning of a day forecasts the type of day it will be. Likewise, the early years of a child forecasts the type of life they will become in adulthood. Years ago, research concluded that a child’s overall character was developed by the time they were five or six years old.


This means that parents have a job to do in the early child development years. Those first five or six years will set the course for a child’s life. When it comes to parenting, there is only one shot. A child’s development cannot be reset when they are teenagers, by that time their proclivities are well established. Yes, change can be made in increments, but the basic character is formed when very young.


As far as word pictures go, today’s verse is wonderfully communicated. The picture is of a mighty man with a bow and arrow. Let’s say this man is hunting for meat to feed his family. In the days of bows and arrows, he had one shot to harvest the game. Once he unfurls the arrow, meaning he releases the bow string hurling the arrow on a given path, he cannot reshoot that same arrow. Perhaps later he could recover the arrow and place it back into the quiver, but for the sake of harvesting the game, he missed. The same is true with parenting young children. There is one shot, over a few years, to unfurl that child onto a path that would hit the aimed mark.


For example, if a parent desires their child to be industrious in adulthood, develop ways to make them industrious in early childhood. Have them pick up their toys. Have them smooth out the covers of their bed when they wake up (as best as they can at their age). Praise their effort though it may not be comparable to an adult’s effort. Teach them to sit still for one minute, then two, then five, and on and on. Encourage them to say please and thank you when they begin to talk. There are a thousand ways and more to help a young child form God honoring character.


Now, this is a sobering thought about early childhood development. The child has little or nothing to do with the forming of their character. This is the parent’s responsibility. Yes, no doubt, and without fear of contradiction, a child is born with certain traits. Traits that will either serve them well, or otherwise. However, the best early life tool to help children overcome traits that may be detrimental are parents who know those children are like arrows. All a parent can do is train them, aim them, and, when the time comes, release them. Then it is their life, their responsibility, their choices, and their life to manage.


But in early childhood, it is the loving, persistent, consistent, patient, giving, loving, serving, and knowledgeable parents that can make all the difference in their children’s lives. Knowing that they only have one shot should motivate and even provoke parents to do all they can in those early formative years to aim their children well.


Dr. William T. Howe

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