When you become a parent, you take on a role unlike any other. Even if you’ve been a babysitter, big sister, or fabulous fun Auntie -it’s not the same as being a parent. If you want to know, “What does the bible say about parenting?” you’ve come to the right place. Below we examine the bible verses about parenting and answer, “What does God expect from parents?”
Before you had kids (or thought about having kids) you probably didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the bible through the lens of what it has to say to parents. Or maybe you became a parent before you became a Christian, and you’re wondering how your new faith should impact your role as a parent. Either way, we’ll help you uncover what the Bible has to say about the roles and responsibilities of parents.
Remember that all the verses that apply to parenting aren’t always obvious. Just because a verse doesn’t say “mothers” or “fathers…” doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply. As a parent, you take on many roles: leader, teacher, counselor, mentor, example, etc. When scripture speaks to teachers and leaders or anyone, there are applications for your parenting role, too.
For example, when Jesus says, “love one another as I have loved you,” that command is for everyone in every role. As a parent, you are to love your children as Jesus loved you.
Bible Verses About Parenting and The Role of A Parent
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Even in our current culture and time, there are a variety of popular parental styles. You may know them by their nicknames – the helicopter parent, the tiger mom, and the free-range parent. Each of these parenting styles assumes a distinct belief system about children’s needs, nature, and capabilities. Do you subscribe to one of these? You may need to challenge your underlying assumptions. As Christians, we must look to the bible to understand children and our roles in parenting them.
Bible Verses About Parenting Roles – 3 Big Truths
The biblical role of a parent is to be a good steward of the children God has placed into their care. Parents are responsible for caring for their children’s spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. The most important biblical duty of a parent is to teach their children about Jesus in action and word.
As revealed in the Bible, God’s Word helps us understand who we are, who God is, and the relationship between God and humanity. Scripture reveals eternal and often uncomfortable truths about our nature, souls, and history.
As a parent here are three big biblical truths that will benefit you in your role as a parent. Knowing these as you go forward in your parenting journey will help you manage your expectations and honor godly boundaries.
First Biblical Truth: You don’t own your kids. God does.
“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine” (Ezekial 18:4, WEB)
“The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the LORD” (Psalm 24:1, HCSB)
This truth is vital to hold on to, in contrast to the world. It’s so easy to believe that you own “your kids.” Legally, in many countries, including many ways the U.S. law regards children, they are still treated more like property than persons. Don’t let this worldly view infect yours. Your children are God’s. You, as a parent, are their stewards.
Second Biblical Truth: Raising Kids is a Deeply Emotional Experience.
“A wise son makes a glad father; but a foolish son brings grief to his mother” (Proverbs 10:1, WEB).
When I became a mother I never considered how deeply my heart would become intertwined with my children. Just the sight of one of my kids starting to tear up will immediately well up tears in me. Watching my littlest one giggle brings instant delight to my heart, too.
There’s this idea out there that we need to be cold rulers – unmoved by our children. It’s wrong – both for our children and us. Our Father in Heaven demonstrates a variety of great emotions toward His children. Jesus wept. This verse above in Proverbs validates that parenting is deeply emotional. Emotional honesty can feel scary sometimes, but it’s healthy and God-honoring.
Third Biblical Truth: Parenting Means Letting Go
“Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh“ (Genesis 2:24, WEB).
How soon should you let go, and how much? It’s hard to say and truly does depend on your family and even which particular child within your family. One thing’s for sure, your job description as a parent changes about as often as you “figure it out.”
It’s hard to let go sometimes, but reminding yourself that these kids don’t belong to you and never did, may help. God has designed young adults to develop independence, which, if we’re honest, can lead to some annoying behaviors. I don’t think it’s a mistake, but may be God’s way of helping us let go. In my opinion, it’s like pregnancy. Towards the end, you worry less about how painful the birth will be because you just want the discomfort of pregnancy to be over. Any way you look at it, change can be painful but a necessary part of growth.
Bible Verses About Parenting Responsibilities
We are stewards, but just because we don’t own our children doesn’t mean we don’t have responsibility for their well-being. If it’s your job to care for something (or someone) you don’t own, then you are a manager or steward.
If your primary responsibility as a parent is to be a good steward of your children, then you need to treat the position with the reverence it is due. God has high standards for stewards, and He will hold you accountable.
What does God expect from parents? Here are three main areas of responsibility for parents and the Bible verses to remember along with them. (You can download a printable of these Bible verses at the bottom of this page).
Bible Verses About Parent’s Spiritual Responsibility
As a parent, you have the responsibility to tend to your children’s spiritual growth and education. We are a child’s first witnesses to the gospel. Sharing Jesus is our most important duty.
“Nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, WEB).
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, WEB).
Bible Verses About Parents’ Duty To Tend To Emotional Health
You have a responsibility to care for your children’s emotional well-being. Their emotions matter. And here’s an added benefit, kids who feel good act good. Treating your children with gentleness helps them stay responsive to instruction and correction.
“Fathers, don’t provoke your children so that they won’t be discouraged” (Colossians 3:21, WEB).
“You fathers, don’t provoke your children to wrath” (Ephesians 6:4).
“Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
Bible Verses About Parents’ Duty to Meet Physical Needs.
You are responsible for providing for your children’s physical needs. This means providing food, water, shelter, clothing, and more. Sometimes this means you must give up your own wants and needs to provide adequately.
“But if anyone doesn’t provide for his own, and especially his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”
(I Timothy 5:8).
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children”
These are just a few of the great number of bible verses that speak to the responsibilities of proper stewardship, an essential to biblical parenting.
Examples of Good Parents in the Bible
Sometimes reading over the examples of good parents in the Bible can be enlightening to us parents today. There are many great examples of both good and bad parents in the bible. We’re just going to focus on the good examples here. I’ve chosen three examples of roles that stand out to me as good examples for the rest of us parents. I saved the best for last.
What the Bible Says About a Good Mother
What does the Bible say about mothers? There are a great many wonderful role models for mothers in the bible. And they have many qualities in common. They are humble. They recognized their children as gifts from God. And they surrender their children to God.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was humble before God and willing to surrender her Son for God’s purposes. Sarah, the mother of Isaac, was also called by God the “mother of nations.” Her faith is credited to her in Hebrews 11:11-12.
“By faith, even Sarah herself, when she was unable to have children, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age since she considered that the One who had promised was faithful. Therefore from one man—in fact, from one as good as dead—came offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as innumerable as the grains of sand by the seashore.”
Hannah’s story can be found in I Samuel 1. Hannah was sorrowfully barren and prayed for a child which she promised to surrender to God. When God gave her a son, she raised him until he was weaned, then brought him to the temple to serve. She prayed for her son, cared for him, and surrendered him to God.
The Good Father in The Bible
In the parable most known as “The parable of the prodigal son,”(Luke 15:11-32) Jesus tells about a father who gives lavishly to both of his sons. One goes off to live foolishly and the other stays home resentfully. It’s not his lavishly giving money and things that make him a good father What makes him a good father is that he gives of himself so lavishly. He is humble and kind; low on judgment and big on mercy.
If you are looking for a bible verse about being a good father, the verses about this good father can’t be missed. This father lived in such a way that the wayward son knew even if only received as a servant, he would still live better under his father’s care.
How does the good father respond to this sinful, wasteful, rude, irresponsible, and ungrateful son who squandered all the father gave him and only came back home when he needed something? When the father saw the son was coming back empty-handed and full of stink, this is how the father reacted.
“But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him…. the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let’s eat, and celebrate; for this, my son, was dead and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.'” (Luke 15:20,22-23).
His father puts aside his pride to run to his messy son with open arms and welcome him back to the family. He loved unconditionally. He chose mercy over judgment. He prioritized restoring the relationship with his son over any concerns about his son’s failures. As for the older son, this father seeks him out, too, when he refuses to celebrate his brother’s return.
I’m not saying Jesus had physical children in the same way we do. But Jesus was called the “Everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6. While on Earth, Jesus was fatherly towards his disciples. He even called them “little children” in Matthew 11:25 and told them he would not leave them “as orphans” in John 14:18.
If you are looking for a good earthly example of how to be a godly parent – providing, protecting, guiding, correcting, teaching, preparing, modeling, encouraging, and loving – it doesn’t get better than Jesus with his disciples. Want to dig deeper? Check out my Bible Study guides: Parenting in Christ.
Some Final Thoughts on Bible Says About Parenting
There are more Bible verses about parenting than I’ve gone into here. Remember that just because a particular scripture is not directly addressing parents, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply to parenting. If you stick only to verses that directly address parents, you will miss out on all that the bible has to offer you in your many roles as a parent.
Everything that applies to the role (being stewards, leaders, and teachers), as well as every verse that talks about the “other” (love one another, etc.) applies to parents. In all we do as Christians, we are to follow the pattern of Jesus. I didn’t say it specifically above, maybe because it doesn’t feel like a responsibility, but you do have a duty to love our children.
Be wary of “Christian” advice that doesn’t sit well with you. It may be tainted by worldly influences and worries. Ask the Holy Spirit, pray, and research scripture for yourself before trying any parenting advice.
God doesn’t want you to focus on a set of rigid rules, styles, or procedures. He is a Father who wants a relationship with you. He wants you to keep seeking and asking Him for his presence and guidance as you go along in life. It is only through continuous dependence on Him that you can live into your biblical role as a parent.
Do You Want to Read More About This?
If you really want to dig deeper into what to teach your kids, check out my Bible study discussion guide, Parenting in Christ: Training in the Disciplines of Jesus.
Parenting in Christ: Training in the Disciplines of Jesus will help you understand and apply the disciplines and instructions of Jesus in short, easy-to-digest lessons.
The disciplines studied in this book include Surrender, Self-Control, Service, Prayer, Solitude, Peacemaking, Simplicity, Generosity, Mercy, and Celebration.