Updated: 17 hours ago
How can we manage the task of raising children over a twenty-year span when it seems no one knows for sure how to do it? Even if we’re successful with our first child, our second child will be different than our first. Our third will be different than our second, and so on.
To whom can we turn for counsel? Who can be considered the greatest expert on raising children?
Can there be a greater example of ideal parenting than God himself?
“I’m not God,” you say. “And neither are you.”
Before you dismiss the idea of trying to parent as God parents us, I recommend that you look over the list in the section below. You’ll find that its counsel applies today as well as it did thousands of years ago. Human beings haven't changed much over Earth’s history.
Whether you believe in God or not, I believe the verses shown below contain ageless wisdom that can help parents raise their children.
“But my children are already grown.”
My mother tells me to this day, “A mother’s job is never done.” Even if our children have moved out on their own, they're still our children. They think they know as much as we do, but they do not. Their level of knowledge and understanding will never catch up with ours because we keep learning, too. That’s just the way it is.
Children can rebel even against ideal parents
It must be made clear that even when a mother or father parents perfectly, children can still rebel. Review the following four passages and ask yourself if God was at fault for his children rejecting him:
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto danger, they are gone away backward. (Isaiah 1:2-4)
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. (Hosea 11:1-3)
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37)
And his (the dragon’s) tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. (Revelation 12:4)
Knowing that our children can choose unwisely no matter our level of love and commitment can keep us up at night with worry. The following verse has given many parents hope:
Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
-- Proverbs 22:6
No one on Earth can fully understand the deep ache parents feel when their children choose wrongly. But God does because he has lost so many millions of his children to terrible choices. With all his great power, he must stand by and allow them to fail when they reject him. Often even visitations of angels, famines, and terrible armies aren’t enough to change his children's minds. Are we more powerful than he?
The following quote has helped and inspired me for years:
To believe in God is to know that all the rules will be fair,
and that there will be wonderful surprises.
-- Ugo Betti
How is our Heavenly Father the perfect parent?
The following Biblical references showing examples of how God parents his children contain no commentary. I’m certain that if we listed every passage in the Bible regarding God’s parenting, it would be many pages long. I hope the following list is enough to persuade you to believe that God knows more about parenting than anyone else on Earth.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Be a listener
LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. (2 Kings 19:16)
A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. (Psalm 68:5)
Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. (John 11:41)
Comfort your children
As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 66:13)
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Always be there for your children
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 106:1)
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. (Psalm 121:3)
Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. (Isaiah 49:15)
Value and inspire your children
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)
Exercise patience, kindness, and understanding
And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. (Exodus 34:6)
But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. (Psalm 86:15)
O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. (Psalm 139:1-3)
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Teach your children
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)
Provide for your children; be generous
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. (Proverbs 3:27)
For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Matthew 6:30)
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:11-13
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8)
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17)
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. (Genesis 9:3)
And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:5-7)
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (Psalm 32:2)
The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. Psalm 34:17-20)
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10)
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. (Genesis 2:19)
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. (Psalm 32:8-9)
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (John 15:7)
Be a faithful steward over your children
And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. (Luke 12: 42-23)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Ephesians 6:18)
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)
Individual instruction and teaching
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. (Matthew 25:15)
Allow your children to choose
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2: 16-17)
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. (1 Peter 5:2)
Be clear and consistent; teach responsibility and consequences instead of punishment
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17)
Thou shalt have no other gods before me...Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. (Exodus 20:3-17)
For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)
Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord. (Isaiah 52:11)
Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes. (Psalm 119:68)
But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. (Isaiah 64:8)
Don’t provoke your children
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. (Colossians 3:21)
Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom. (Proverbs 13:10)
A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife. (Proverbs 15:18)
Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. (Matthew 5:25)
Do all things without murmurings and disputations. (Philippians 2:14)
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (James 3:16)
The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things. (Proverbs 15:28)
An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man boundeth in transgression. (Proverbs 29:22)
For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (1 Corinthians 3:3)
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient (2 Timothy 2:24)
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. (Psalm 103:8-10, 13)
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; (Psalm 103:17)
And he said, A certain man had two sons...for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. (Luke 15:11-32)
Discipline when necessary
My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. (Proverbs 13:24)
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (Hebrews 12:7-10)
Don’t rush to fix troubles
Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand. Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again? (Job 10:7-9)
Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)
Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? (Luke 5:23)
For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. (2 Corinthians 7:2)
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-8)
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye bask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3)
Marriage and raising children are probably the two most difficult tasks you’ll ever have while on this Earth. They're difficult because they involve people who have their own wills. They are either ahead of you or behind you on their way through eternity. We must somehow learn to deal with them properly no matter their standing.
God doesn’t give us all the answers at first, but we over time must experience his understanding across the span of our lifetimes.
He doesn’t fly us from place to place but helps us design and build airplanes. He doesn’t tell us what stars are but helps us invent telescopes to study them.
There has yet to be a cure for cancer. Those living in the future may one day say, “How did they ever live through it?”
We enjoy many thousands of things in our lives that people have prayed for desperately since Adam and Eve. And yet, we still have many unanswered questions.
I believe that with fervent prayer he will give us answers meant just for us.
Don’t forget what happened to Job, who was ultimately given twice of what he lost (Job 42:10). But while he was suffering, try to imagine how he felt:
Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little. Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness. (Job 10:18-22)
Oh, that we don’t suffer as Job did! But he endured and prevailed and was blessed. May we try to be half as faithful as Job. If we do, I believe we and our children in the end will prevail, and all will be made right.