Family: Parents and Children


For each relationship we will consider a few important biblical concepts and answer the following questions:Diagram of Relationship between Parents and Child

  • In general, what are the Biblically defined responsibilities for each party within the relationship?  What are the behavioral expectations set by God to fulfill these responsibilities?
  • Specifically, what authority has God granted to each party within the relationship?  What is the extent of this authority?  What are it’s limitations?
  • What requirements for submission and obedience have been placed by God to each party within the relationship?  What is the extent of this submission?  What are it’s limitations?
  • What Old Testament Pattern / Example can inform our understanding of each relationship?  What are the parallels?  What are the differences?

Review of Diagram

This diagram shows the father and mother having equal position over children.  The Bible actually puts specific, explicit responsibility on the father.  The responsibility on the mother has to be implicitly derived since it is not explicitly stated with the exception of Titus 2:4 where the older women are expected to encourage the younger women to love their husbands and their children.

From Parent’s Perspective

As a parent, you have full control and full responsibility for your children.  The Bible always pairs these together.  The more control, the more responsibility.  You have the right to expect obedience from your child, but you also have responsibility to use your authority in a manner that helps your child to grow and learn how to properly submit to other authority and ultimately how to follow God.

Additionally, the Bible places all the responsibility on the father.  It does not say “parents”.  It points all verses about responsibility specifically to the father.  This matches the way that God has established authority in the family.  This does not mean that mothers do not play a central role.  They do, but it is under the authority and responsibility of the father.  There is an implicit proof that mothers carry authority in regards to the children in the command to children to obey their parents.  This is an expectation of obedience to mother and and father.

From Child’s Perspective

The expectation of obedience for a child is complete up to a certain point in life.  The type of obedience expected here is command obedience.  A child is expected to obey the commands of their parents.  This level of obedience is expected up until one of two points in time:

  • Marriage – when a child marries, they come out from under the authority of their parents and the expectation for obedience is removed.  This does not remove the responsibility to honor your parents, but it does remove the need for obedience
  • Age of Accountability – there is no clear Biblical proof of when this transition occurs, but there is a point in a person’s life where they become fully responsible to God and the requirement to obey their parents is dropped.  Again, this does not remove the need to honor your parents.

Relevant Verses

Exodus 20:12 – Honor your mother and father, so that your days can be long on the land that Yahweh your God is giving you.

Exodus 21:15 – And whoever strikes his father or his mother will surely be put to death

Exodus 21:17 – And one who curses his father or mother will surely be put to death

Leviticus 19:3a – Each of you must revere your father and mother

Colossians 3:20-21 – Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord.  Fathers, do not provoke your children, so that they will not become discouraged.

Ephesians 6:1-4 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your mother and father” (which is the first commandment with a promise), “in order that it may be well with you, and you may live a long time on the earth.”  And fathers, do not make your children angry, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 – just as you know how we treated each one of you, like a father his own children, exhorting and consoling you and insisting that you live in a manner worthy of God, who calls you to to his own kingdom and glory.

Titus 2:3-4 – Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not slanderous, not enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, in order that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children