I recently had several conversations with various people about hobbies and activities. Specifically, what is a valid way for an individual to invest his time and money? I've met many parents who feel the need to control this aspect of their children's lives. They assign various values to various activities based on their own interests and experiences. They usually devalue their children's interests as a waste of time simply because they do not enjoy the activity and do not see its value.
While pondering this issue of activities of activities and their value, I recalled the verse: "Bring up a child in the way he should go, and he shall not depart from it." This means many things to many people, but I believe most people miss the true meaning of the phrase "the way he should go." Some people interpret it to mean "the way you want your child to develop". Some people think it means "with a good moral background". Some see it as a call for firm discipline. All of these interpretations could lead to rebellion, and therefore cannot possibly be the true interpretation of this phrase. In order for the interpretation to be correct, it must be true 100% of the time.
A wise person I once knew provided the only interpretation for the phrase "the way he should go" I have ever heard that is valid 100% of the time. He said you could replace this phrase with "according to his bent". This is a woodworking phrase. It basically means when you carve a piece of wood, you have to work with the bends, not against them, or your finished piece will not be as beautiful as it could have been. How does this relate to children? Each child is an individual with a unique path in life. You cannot choose this path for your child. You cannot define success for your child. If you force your child to do the things you think he "should" do, the person he becomes as an adult will not be as beautiful as he could have been. Instead, model the qualities you would like your child to have, such as kindness and helpfulness, rather than force them. Let him decide what is a valid use of his time based on his own interests. Bring him up on his own path - not the one you create for him. If it truly is his own path, he will not depart from it.