The Old Testament book of Proverbs is full of practical wisdom on a multiplicity of topics. Much of this wisdom literature reads as a conversation between a father and his son as he addresses life issues and the need for wisdom. Other passages in Proverbs speak to parents encouraging them to demonstrate love to their kids through their instruction and discipline. There are hundreds of “how to” books on parenting that can be purchased, but the Proverbs contain some of the most practical, applicable, and clear advice on leading kids.
This following contains a list of passages from Proverbs about parenting and children. My encouragement is to use this in a couple ways. First, use the verses to evaluate yourself as a parent. Ask yourself if you have talked to your kids about these issues, and if you are finding balance between instruction and discipline. Second, many of these passages are tailor made to prompt discussions with your kids about issues of authority, sexuality, rebellion, and all other kids of pitfalls in their lives.
Proverbs on parents and children
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. (Proverbs 1:1-9, ESV).
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. (Proverbs 1:10, ESV).
My son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths, (Proverbs 1:15, ESV).
1 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
(Proverbs 2:1-5, ESV).
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3:1-2, ESV).
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12, ESV).
My son, do not lose sight of these— keep sound wisdom and discretion, (Proverbs 3:21, ESV).
Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.” (Proverbs 4:1-4, ESV).
Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. (Proverbs 4:10-13, ESV).
My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. (Proverbs 4:20-21, ESV).
My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. (Proverbs 5:1-2, ESV).
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? (Proverbs 5:20, ESV).
My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, have given your pledge for a stranger, if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself, for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor. (Proverbs 6:1-3, ESV).
My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, (Proverbs 6:20-23, ESV).
My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words. (Proverbs 7:1-5, ESV).
The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother. (Proverbs 10:1, ESV).
He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame. (Proverbs 10:5, ESV).
Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart. (Proverbs 11:29, ESV).
A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. (Proverbs 13:1, ESV).
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24, ESV).
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (Proverbs 14:1, ESV).
A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother. (Proverbs 15:20, ESV).
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers. (Proverbs 17:6, ESV).
He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy. (Proverbs 17:21, ESV).
A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him. (Proverbs 17:25, ESV).
A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain. House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord. (Proverbs 19:13-14, ESV).
Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death. (Proverbs 19:18, ESV).
He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother is a son who brings shame and reproach. Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. (Proverbs 19:26-27, ESV).
If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness. (Proverbs 20:20, ESV).
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6, ESV).
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15, ESV).
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. My inmost being will exult when your lips speak what is right. (Proverbs 23:13-16, ESV).
Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. (Proverbs 23:22, ESV).
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. (Proverbs 23:24-25, ESV).
My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. (Proverbs 24:13, ESV).
My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise, for disaster will arise suddenly from them, and who knows the ruin that will come from them both? (Proverbs 24:21-22, ESV).
Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him who reproaches me. (Proverbs 27:11, ESV).
Whoever robs his father or his mother and says, “That is no transgression,” is a companion to a man who destroys. (Proverbs 28:24, ESV).
He who loves wisdom makes his father glad, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth. (Proverbs 29:3, ESV).
The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (Proverbs 29:15, ESV).
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. (Proverbs 29:17, ESV).
The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures. (Proverbs 30:17, ESV).