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Parenting would be easy if the Bible had an instruction manual that guaranteed perfect kids. But, that's just not how it works.

One of the most famous parenting verses in the Bible is from the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 22:6 Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Some people think that this verse says, if you raise your kids in a godly way, your kids will automatically turn out well. Though it would be nice to have a specific equation for parenting that yields perfect results every time, it’s just simply not true. So, what is this passage saying? Here are three things to consider:

Proverbs Are Principles

Proverbs are statements regarding general “truths” in life. In other words, they draw obvious conclusions. They aren’t written to be promises that if you do this, you will get that. The Proverbs just offer practical wisdom on how to do things the right way. If you follow them, you are putting yourself in a position to get the result you’re hoping for. So, if you are strategic in your parenting, you will likely raise well-adjusted kids. But, parents are only part of the equation. Kids have a part to play, too. This is important for parents to remember.

[Related: Introducing the Proverbs]

Parents Can Only Do Their Part

You can’t force your kids to be something they don’t want to be, especially once they’re grown and out of your house. What you can do is set the right tone in your home and lead your kids toward God. But, at the end of the day, your kids will have to choose their own path. Do your best to set them up for success and pray that at the end of the day they choose to follow after God.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

[Related Series: Parenting Teens]

Parenting Is a Progression

Don’t forget that your parenting strategies should change as your kids grow. When they’re young, your role is to keep their environment safe and small. As they grow, you widen the boundaries and allow for other factors to play a part. By the time they hit the teen years, your role as the parent becomes less authoritarian. You should become more of a trusted guide. These adjustments are necessary for your teens to mature and eventually leave your home to become productive young adults.

So, does the Bible promise that you’ll have perfect kids? The answer is no. But, the Bible does offer some great advice to set you up for success as parents.

[Related Series: Survival Guide for Parenting Kids]

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. Read Proverbs 22:6. Why is it important to distinguish between a promise and a principle?
  3. How do you feel about the idea that you can’t force your kids to follow God?
  4. What strategies do you already have in place to lead your kids on the path you want them to go?
  5. Read Ephesians 6:4. On a scale from 1-10, (1 being permissive and 10 being authoritative) rate your parenting style. How does that style help you relate to your kids? How does it hinder your relationship with your kids?
  6. Do you recognize the importance of adjusting as a parent? How have you adjusted your parenting style as your kids grow older?
  7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.
Adapted from the PursueGOD Couples YouTube channel.