Let's Quit Claiming That Good Parents Are Promised Good Children

We need to address this false teaching that is based on a human teaching, adding words to a Proverb not present in the Proverb itself.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

As a new Christian, I was taught that Proverbs 22:6 promised good Christian parents that they'd have godly kids. And if their children strayed from the faith, it promised they'd return when they were older.  

Then I learned that the book of Proverbs contains divinely inspired wise sayings, not promises.(1)

In addition, I realized that Proverbs 22:6 says nothing about children straying and returning. It describes a faith that endures even into old age.(2) 

Furthermore, Ezekiel 18 speaks of godly parents with ungodly children. And Jesus warns us that during persecution some ungodly children will turn against godly parents (Matthew 10:21). 

Why am I making this point? Isn't it better for parents to think their wayward children will one day return to faith? 

No, it's not better because it's misleading. It can cause false guilt in parents whose children die in their sins. It can lead Christians with godly children to unfairly judge Christians with ungodly children. And it can cause confusion and doubts about God's actual promises.

False teachings can be hard to let go of, but we must do it (2 Timothy 2:15). We should hope and pray that wayward children will return to their childhood faith, but Scripture doesn't promise they will. And it doesn't judge parents based on their adult children's choices.


While proverbs are not promises, they are helpful wise sayings, and Bible Love Notes offers The Proverbs Collection, featuring 1-minute devotions based on different proverbs. 

We need to address this false teaching that is based on a single Proverb, a teaching that causes unnecessary guilt to good parents.


(1) Proverbs 1:1-6 describes the book of Proverbs as a collection of wise sayings, not promises. If all proverbs were promises, we’d have many strange beliefs. For more insights and explanations about the purpose of proverbs, see A Proverbial Mistake.  

(2) After carefully studying the original Hebrew and consulting numerous commentaries, it's clear that this proverb says nothing about children straying and returning. See these ten commentaries if you'd like to study it some more. 

This false teaching compliments another false teaching which you can read about here: "Beware of the Gospel According to Absalom.

Bible Love Notes

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