“Train up a child in the way it should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” is something that is found in the teachings of most of the major religions of the world. And this is exactly what this Maxim is about. We need to ensure that we teach our children the things we want them to learn, both practical and moral. We need to teach our children by our example as well as through schooling them in things like reading and mathematics.
We need to teach our children our philosophy and our faith so that they can make wise decisions in their lives. We need to teach them to be responsible and ethical in their daily dealings so that they can be productive citizens. We need to teach them critical thinking so that they are not easily swayed by appeals to emotion. These and other things are all part of our responsibility as parents and members of society in general.
If we do not teach these things to our children, then we are responsible for what occurs as they get older. We can either teach them to the youngsters in our lives or see what happens when they have to learn the lessons as adults, if they even learn them at all at that point. If they are to “Respect an elder” we must be worthy of respect through our teaching.