What the Bible Tells Us About Parenting

Photo by Eduardo Braga on Pexels.com


In my last post, I described what experts consider effective parenting. Additionally, we find the elements of proper parental guidance in scripture. “God’s love in the garden sets the example for all parents to follow,” says Cline and Fay, “he allowed Adam and Eve the freedom to make the choice.”[1]  In Proverbs, Solomon writes, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.”[2]  However, in Introduction to Psychology and Counseling: Christian Perspectives and Applications, Meir et al., assert that Proverbs 22:6 does not take away a child’s freedom of choice, but rather indicates that children raised under good parental guidance are less likely to “depart from their faith.”[3] When Paul wrote to the saints at Ephesus, he admonished them, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”[4] Here, Paul cautions parents to teach and guide their children rather than being the Drill Sergeant barking orders.  Paul provides similar counsel in Colossians, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”[5] Solomon points out the negative outcome of Laissez-Faire Parenting in Proverbs 29:15 when he counsels parents that “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”[6] Finally, Psalm 127:3 describes children as “a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”[7]

Why does it matter if God is a good parent?

If God is such as a good parent, why do we see violence, poverty, terrorism, and devastation on the news every day? If God, as our parent, will not allow human freedom to overrule His purpose, then why does he allow innocents to die? If God views children as “a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward,”[8] then why does He apparently abandon us when we need Him the most? Cline and Fay provide a simple answer, “God gave all humans — His supreme creation — considerable freedom, and that includes the opportunity to goof up,”[9]  Isaiah describes God’s care for the world, “As a mother comforts her son, so will I myself comfort you.”[10]  God, who creates all things does not just leave His alone to find their way as the Laissez-Faire parent would, rather He “continues to nurture and care for them, and is constantly active”[11] on their behalf.  As Oden asserts, we are “not automations but endowed with free will.”[12]  As Cline and Fay argue, “The challenge of parenting is to love kids enough to allow them to fail — to stand back, however, painful it may be and let significant learning opportunities (SLO) build our children.”[13]


Next: Does God’s parental guidance (providential) follow the guidelines of good parental guidance?

Related Posts:

Is God a Good Parent?-Why Did He Let this Happen?

What Kind of Love is This?- Part II

[1] Foster Cline; Jim Fay, Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility (NavPress Publishing. Kindle Edition: 2014-02-01), Kindle Locations 395-396.

[2] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (Crossway Bibles: Good News Publishers, 2001), Accessed June 24, 2016.

[3] Paul D. Meir, Frank B. Minirth, Frank B. Wichern, Donald F. Ratcliff, Introduction to Psychology and Counseling: Christian Perspectives and Applications, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003), 217.

[4] The Holy Bible, English Standard Version., Ephesians 6:4.

[5] Ibid., Colossians 3:21.

[6] Ibid., Proverbs 29:15.

[7] Ibid., Psalm 127:3.

[8] Ibid., Psalm 127:3.

[9] Cline; Fay, Kindle Location 391.

[10] Thomas C. Oden, Classic Christianity, A Systematic Theology (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), 159.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Cline, Fay, Kindle Locations 480-481.