What does the Bible say about parenting?
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” Proverbs 22:6.
The above verse may be one of the best-known verses concerning parenting. Remarkably, it’s just one of more than 1,900 references in the Bible that mention parents, fathers, or mothers. We find most of these references in dozens of stories about complicated families. These stories describe good and bad parenting but contain surprisingly few texts that directly and unambiguously address parent-child dynamics.
It would be great if the Bible contained a parenting script, but it doesn’t. While there’s no comprehensive passage on parenting, here are 15 key texts concerning the roles, realities, and responsibilities of parents:
It’s recognizing children are a gift and blessing from God. “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him” Psalm 127:3.
It’s helping children love and live for Jesus. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4.
It’s diligently teaching the scriptures to your children. “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children” Deuteronomy 6:6-7.
It’s telling your children about the remarkable things God has done. “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done” Psalm 78:4.
It’s inviting children to turn to Jesus, confess their sins, receive the Holy Spirit, and be baptized. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call” Acts 2:38-39.
It’s pointing children in the right direction. “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” Proverbs 22:6.
It’s living in a way that makes your children look up to you. “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children” Proverbs 17:6.
It’s modelling how to live according to a biblical worldview. “In everything set them an example by doing what is good” Titus 2:7.
It’s taking care of your children’s needs. “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” 1 Timothy 5:8.
It’s correcting and disciplining children as a mark of your love. “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire” Proverbs 29:17.
It’s not irritating, aggravating, disheartening, or provoking children to anger. “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” Colossians 3:21.
It’s maintaining harmony and stability in the home. “Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise” Proverbs 11:29.
It’s prudent financial planning for your children. “Children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children” 2 Corinthians 12:14.
It’s showing your children you respect your own parents. “Honour your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you” Deuteronomy 5:16.
It’s aiming to see your children become mature Christians. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” 3 John 1:4.
None of this is possible if you’re not tracking with Jesus. In the process of parenting, pay attention to your walk with the Lord. “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” Deuteronomy 4:9.
© Scripture Union, 2021