Does the Bible say anything about being a good parent?

The Bible offers much advice and counsel about parenting, none more important than teaching children the value of the Word of God.

In Deuteronomy 6:4–9, Moses instructed the Israelites: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." God's Word was to be at the center of family life.

Ephesians 6:4 says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Again, we see the importance of God and His instruction being at the center of family life. God's Word is the foundation of all aspects of life, including parenting. God's Word not only gives us wisdom to parent, it is the most important thing we should communicate to our children. We teach our children about God through direct instruction. But, perhaps more importantly, we teach them about God by living godly lives ourselves.

As parents instruct children in God's Word, they must show children a life submitted to God in their marriage (Ephesians 5:21–33), in their daily life, in their business dealings, in their commitment to community worship times, in their hobbies, and in all aspects of life.

Importantly, parents' interactions with their children must be filled with love and truth (Ephesians 4:15). Parents need to demonstrate to their children that they are loved and valuable—through both their words and their actions. Taking the time to know your child and appreciate his or her unique personality and interests is important. Listening to what your child shares matters. It is important to understand how your child learns and functions, and to help your child navigate life.

Discipline is an important part of parenting, and of helping children feel loved. Discussions of discipline often include Proverbs 13:24: "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." Many times this verse is used to promote spanking. But discipline is much more than punishment.

Discipline is best understood as training. For example, we discipline ourselves to undertake and continue healthy habits. We help our children do the same. Discipline certainly involves setting boundaries and appropriate consequences. But the goal is not just that the child follow the parents' rules, but that the child's character is shaped and matured. Appropriate discipline teaches children respect, right and wrong, self-control, and direction. A child without discipline will have little respect for any authority, including God's sovereignty. They may also feel very insecure. Having clear boundaries and expectations goes a long way in helping a child feel secure. It is also vitally important that a child know that even when he breaks the boundaries, his parents' love is not lost. Any expression of discipline must be saturated with love.

God Himself provides the example for us. Hebrews 12:5–6 says, "And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives'" The passage goes on to discuss earthly fathers who discipline and the way children respect their fathers. Earthly fathers discipline the way that seems best to them, but God always does it for our good and so that we will be holy. Hebrews 12:11 says, "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (See also Deuteronomy 8:5.)

Proverbs 22:6 is an excellent principle for parenting: "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).

Though not specifically about parenting, the Bible tells us we can go to God and ask Him for wisdom (James 1:5). In few endeavors is ongoing wisdom needed more than in parenting.

Related Truth:

What should a Christian father be like according to the Bible?

What should a Christian mother be like according to the Bible?

What are to be our top priorities in our family life?

What does the Bible say about disciplining children?

What is biblical advice for parents struggling with letting go of their adult children?

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