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What Does the Bible Say About...Raising Children?

What do we have to do to be good parents to our children. Is it right for us to tell our children to leave home because they don't always do what we want them to do? Do we give up our children for a third party so that we may be loved when our children are not accepted?


You are not afraid to ask the tough questions, are you. I hope I can do justice to your questions.

The Bible is full of advice on child rearing, and even full of examples of people who did not do a good job of it. A brief summary of what the Bible says might be the advice given in Eph 6:4: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The best thing to do to be good parents to our children is to be examples of Christ to them. If we treat them as we would be treated, in love, we can not go far wrong. And for those who have been abusive, or just less than Christian, in their child raising, it is never too late to change. That doesn’t mean the child will accept the change or react any differently, but it is a start toward renewing a proper relationship with the child.

Nor does acting in a loving, Christian manner mean we can not punish violations of clearly established rules or expectations. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” (Heb 12:6) “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” (Pr 22:15) “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” (Pr 29:15) And “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Pr 13:24)

I just quoted three passages from Proverbs. There is reason in that, because the entire book of Proverbs is advice to a son on how to live, including how to raise children. The book is full of advice on how to deal with people, even our children. Read it.

The Law of Moses also told what was necessary to raise children in God’s way.

“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.” (Deut 11:18-21)
If they are taught God’s way early and often, they will grow up to be obedient, God-fearing adults.

But your question also implies that there is a problem with obstinate children. We no longer live under a law that mandates stoning for a child who speaks back to or strikes a parent. Dealing with such a child is difficult, and not something any parent relishes.

I have known situations in which children were given up to a third party to raise. If you choose the third party carefully it can work. I know of one who was in such a situation that has turned out quite well, loving her mother and her surrogate parents as well as the Lord. I have also seen situations where the child is so rebellious to any authority that giving them to another amounts to dumping your problems on someone else just so you don’t have to deal with them yourself (using you generically, and not specifically speaking of you, the questioner). Only each individual can know from their situation whether they are giving the child to someone who can truly fix the problem or whether they are just trying to get the child off their hands. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of a parent to raise their own child to the best of their ability.

Another implication of your question is that the child may be old enough to leave home and live on their own. If an adult child does not live by the rules of the household, they can set up their own house with their own rules. Sometimes attempting to do that will show them how responsible their parents really are. In the Navy I regularly saw people who joined the military because their parents “broke their plate” when they graduated from high school. However, the specific question related to making them leave “because they don’t always do what we want them to do.” Not from a Biblical perspective, but from advice from countless parents, there are times we must decide which battles to fight, and which to avoid. If “what we want them to do” is something that isn’t really earth shattering, illegal, immoral, or unscriptural, that may not be worth casting them out of the house for. Example: if you say “no body piercing” and he or she goes out and pierces their tongue or their navel, that is probably not a battle that should split a family.

One final disclaimer. I am not a qualified or licensed family counselor. Some of what I said is from the Bible. The rest is observation from someone who has been there. If this is a problem in your family, the best advice might be to speak to a Christian family counselor. Many churches have preachers or others who are legally qualified and educated to deal with the questions you pose. Seek out one of these, and make an appointment for you and your child.