Bible Verses About Parents, Children, Mothers & Fathers

Here is a long list of Bible verses that talk about parenting, child instruction, mothers and fathers. Leave me a comment if I’ve left off your favorite.

Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (2) “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), (3) “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (4) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Proverbs 23:13-14 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.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (5) You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (6) And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. (7) You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (8) You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. (9) You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Luke 2:48-52 ESV And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” (49) And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (50) And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. (51) And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. (52) And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Luke 18:28-30 ESV And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” (29) And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, (30) who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

John 9:3-5 ESV Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. (4) We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. (5) As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”


2 Corinthians 12:13-15 ESV For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong! (14) Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. (15) I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?

Colossians 3:20 ESV Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

1 Timothy 5:3-4 ESV Honor widows who are truly widows. (4) But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. (2) For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, (4) treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, (5) having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Colossians 3:20-24 ESV Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (21) Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (22) Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. (23) Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, (24) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Proverbs 1:8-9 ESV Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, (9) for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.

Proverbs 30:17 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 7:1-3 ESV My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; (2) keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; (3) bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

Leviticus 19:3 ESV Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 ESV “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, (19) then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, (20) and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ (21) Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Exodus 20:12 ESV “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Exodus 21:15-17 ESV “Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death. (16) “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death. (17) “Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.

Titus 2:3-5 ESV Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, (4) and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, (5) to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Deuteronomy 4:9-10 ESV “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children– (10) how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’

Deuteronomy 11:19 ESV You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Joel 1:2-3 ESV Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? (3) Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation.

Psalms 78:2-8 ESV I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, (3) things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. (4) We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. (5) He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, (6) that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, (7) so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; (8) and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Psalms 103:13 ESV As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

Proverbs 10:1 ESV The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.

Psalms 112:1-2 ESV Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments! (2) His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.


  1. Ruth Jessup says

    Is there a reason you did not include Proverbs 23:13-14?

  2. melissa says

    I understand your confusion, Rachel, but think about where that path leads! If we can pick and choose among the Scriptures, our morality has no firm foundation.

    What God has given us in Exodus and Deuteronomy is not a license to kill, but a tool for capturing the attention of our children. My children are wonderfully obedient to my husband and myself in part because I have shared these scriptures with them. They know that I was Gods instrument for bringing them into life and that he can also choose me as the instrument to send them back to him.

    Children who know, with the certainty of faith, that God grants their parents the power to take their lives will never NEED to have their lives taken. That is the beauty of these commands.

  3. Rachel Woo says

    I have NO trouble trusting God — it’s His intermediaries that pose the problem. You have accepted as a matter of course that everything between the covers of the Bible was inspired by God, but verses such as these — and, as you’ve noted, there are many — make me question, in His name, whether He had any part in their inspiration.

    I have no difficulty picturing Him wincing in pain at the ideas we attribute to Him: “How could you people think I would ask you to kill your children when they are disobedient? Would any child make it to adulthood if you followed that instuction? ANY child?? Would YOU have made it?”

    So yes, I make progress — every time I free God from authorship of these obviously repellent ideas. Thank you, Tony — the conversation has helped me as well.

  4. says

    Rachel – Thanks for raising the questions. A lot of times I just get used to not knowing the answers, so I stop thinking about it. I definitely welcome your questions and this conversation has helped me. At the end of the day we can only trust that God knew what he was doing when he inspired those verses.

    Let me know if you make any progress on all this.

  5. Rachel Woo says

    Thank you for that very honest answer. I struggle with these things very much and have never been the least bit satisfied with the explanations.

  6. says

    Rachel – I think you’re right about the context. And it is also a problem passage for people like me (who thinks God loves kids).

    So why did I include it? It is in the Bible and it is about children. Honestly, I don’t have a good explanation for it. Maybe that is why I included it.

    That chapter has more than one problem for the contemporary Christians. Like verse one about slavery and the whole eye for an eye thing.

    For Christians, who in general consider the Bible without error, it seems like there are at least two issues with this verse.

    1. Does God have the right to make this kind of command?
    2. What principle, if any, applies to Christian parents?

    I’m not nearly wise enough to resolve all the philosophical and theological issues those raise. I believe God both made and owns the world. So, just as he had the right to send a flood in the days of Noah, he has the right to give the ancient Hebrew people laws. No one understands this passage as a command beyond its original context, the ancient nation of Israel. Most Christians debate what (if any) application this has for us today.

    Certainly, a question like this should cause everyone to think carefully about how they read and understand the Bible. And if you believe the Bible is really God’s Word it will open you up to some criticism. That is ok and even good. I typically learn a great deal from these comments, even from people who do not agree with what I write. I would urge everyone to be humble and careful about how they respond.

  7. Rachel Woo says

    I know that’s the standard response, Tony, but I have no idea what “we need to be careful about context and application” means in this case. This isn’t intercropping or instructions on cleaning pots; Exodus 21:15 calls for the murder of children. There is no context in which child murder is or has ever been a moral act.

    Despite my use of humor, a serious question underlies my comment: What is the purpose of including a clear exhortation to kill our children in a parenting column? Yet if you choose to remove it, what are the implications for a Bible-based morality?

  8. says

    Rachel – Good point. We need to be careful about context and application. Thanks for your sense of humor.

  9. Rachel Woo says

    Thank you for the excellent parenting tips! My daughter does hit me on occasion, so becoming aware of Exodus 21:15 was a great blessing. I’ll let you know how it goes.