Does godly parenting result in godly children (Proverbs 22:6)?

Often, Christian parents point to Proverbs 22:6 to claim that God promises them children who honor Him. The verse says, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." However, we know Christian parents whose children rebel and adults raised by godly parents who do not walk with God. How do we explain this?

First, we should realize that Proverbs are not promises. Instead, Proverbs offer wisdom for everyday circumstances. These are not rules, but general principles. So, for parents who raise up a child in the way he should go, generally that child will not depart from that guidance. This is not a guarantee for every parent and child.

Ephesians 6:4 instructs parents, fathers particularly, in facets of raising children, but makes no promises. It says, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

We see a biblical example in the life of Timothy. Paul wrote to Timothy, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well" (2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy had a godly upbringing. Later we see him as a trusted companion and ministry partner of Paul, an aide to the apostles, and a pastor. Paul credits, in part, Timothy's grandmother and mother for teaching him about God (2 Timothy 3:15).

Though Proverbs 22:6 is not a cause and effect promise, Christian parents must continue to point their children to God through teaching, praying, and modeling a life devoted to Jesus. Christian parents should also continually pray for their children, asking God to do His work in their hearts and trusting that He is the best Father of all.

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