Good parenting is exhausting! It would be easier to just let our kids do whatever they want—eat sugar and no vegetables; give in when they whine; let the TV, computer, and phone keep them out of our way; let them make life-altering choices based on their feelings and what society says, rather than researching the facts with them so they can make informed choices. No curfew, no supervision, no rules, no problem. Right?

The opposite end of the spectrum is to micromanage every step; be so rigid and harsh that they learn to fear and despise us, and hate our rules. Or, we can hover and be so intertwined and codependent with them that we feel responsible for their choices—good or bad—and are only happy when they’re happy and doing well. Really exhausting!

God’s Word tells us that good parents give rules and boundaries that expand as our children mature and prove they can make wise choices on their own. It has to start from day one. He tells us not to punish in anger, but discipline with love and a deep desire to help them become intelligent, caring individuals. Discipline provides appropriate consequences so they can learn to practice self-control and make a better choice next time.

Some great parenting advice from the Bible:

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
    do not be a willing party to their death. Prov. 19:18, emphasis added

He who does not punish his son when he needs it hates him, but he who loves him will punish him when he needs it. Prov. 13:24, NLV (New Life Version)

But what if you are doing, or did, everything right and your children choose to turn against God, and you? Have you failed as a parent? You believed those who quoted to you, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6, NKJV), as if it were a math formula. You wonder, “What did I do wrong?”

What many people don’t know is that Proverbs is not meant to be a book of promises, but a book of principles that are usually, but not always, true. If you do A, then B is usually the result, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Hard work does not always bring a profit. Generosity is not always rewarded. And the husband and children of a noble wife do not always rise up to bless her.

So why do we still read Proverbs and try to live by these principles? Because they are God-inspired. Because they are good and right. Because to live any other way is to be living contrary to God’s wisdom. And, because when we raise our children with the truth, there is hope for them. They can eventually come back to the God they learned about as a child, even if they initially rebel.

When we commit to doing what is right, we will be blessed, but the blessings may not come in the form we expect. God will reward generosity. Godly women will one day be recognized by more than just their families. And children can, and often do, return to the principles they were taught at home, if they search for the truth. So do not give up hope, dear parent.

I’m speaking to myself as well as to all of us who are praying for our children to know and live for Jesus. God is answering our prayers and using the seeds we planted to nurture a tender shoot of faith. And He will redeem whatever mistakes we made along the way.

“Even If” by Mercy Me?