How to Raise Children

Verse: Proverbs 22

Family members should be allies, not adversaries

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

Those who employ this proverb: “Spare the rod and spoil the child” take it from Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children.” Proverbs calls punishment a form of love and says that parents who won’t discipline their children are in danger of ruining them (see Proverbs 29:15). But that much-quoted maxim is only a small part of what Proverbs has to offer on the subject of bringing up children.

The overwhelming emphasis of Proverbs is on verbal encouragement and teaching. The whole book is framed as a father’s words to his son, teaching him those “facts of life” that have nothing to do with biology. Again and again he pleads, “Listen, my son.” Mother has equally important words (see Proverbs 1:8; 6:20). The parent-child conversation is a warm one, and Proverbs 17:6 bears out what the whole book implies: Parents and children are not meant to be adversaries, but allies in life who are proud of each other.

Proverbs on parent-child relationships: Proverbs 3:11–12; 10:1, 5; 13:1, 24; 14:26; 15:20; 17:6, 21; 19:18, 26–27; 20:20; 22:6, 15; 23:13–16, 22–25; 27:11; 29:15, 17; 31:28.

Life Questions

In your upbringing, which had the greater effect: punishment and discipline, or verbal instruction and encouragement?

This devotion is from the NIV Student Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.