28 Bible Verses about Bad Parents 

A parent and child praying together at a bedside in a warmly lit room.

Understanding the challenges and responsibilities of parenting from a biblical perspective is crucial for nurturing a godly family. The Bible provides numerous examples and teachings about the effects of bad parenting, emphasizing the importance of guidance, discipline, and the transmission of faith and values. The wisdom of the book of Proverbs, the admonition of the Lord, and the teachings of Christ Jesus all point to the significant role parents play in shaping their children.

By examining these bible verses, we can glean insights into how to avoid the pitfalls of bad parenting and instead become good examples, fostering wise sons and daughters who bring gladness to their fathers and mothers. Through the Holy Spirit, parents can guide their little children in the ways of the Lord, ensuring that they grow up to be good men and women, living stones in the kingdom of God.

Even in hard times, parents can rely on the peace of God and the steadfast love of the Lord to provide good gifts and support to their household. This study highlights the life-changing message of God’s word, urging parents to reflect on their actions and strive to be the loving father or good mother their children need.

1 Samuel 2:29

1 Samuel 2:29 (NRSV): “Why then look with greedy eye at my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded, and honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?”

Reflection: This verse highlights the consequences of prioritizing family over God’s commandments. Eli’s failure to discipline his sons and their corrupt practices led to their downfall. It serves as a warning to modern parents to uphold godly standards and not condone wrongdoing for familial harmony, ensuring the teachings and principles of God take precedence.

1 Kings 1:6

1 Kings 1:6 (NRSV): “Now his father had never at any time displeased him by asking, ‘Why have you done thus and so?’ He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom.”

Reflection: David’s failure to question or discipline Adonijah illustrates the dangers of neglectful parenting. Without guidance or correction, children may develop a sense of entitlement and rebellion. This verse calls parents to actively engage in their children’s lives, providing necessary correction to foster humility and responsibility.

Genesis 27:6-10

Genesis 27:6-10 (NRSV): “Rebekah said to her son Jacob, ‘I heard your father say to your brother Esau, “Bring me game, and prepare for me savory food to eat, that I may bless you before the Lord before I die.” Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you. Go to the flock, and get me two choice kids, so that I may prepare from them savory food for your father, such as he likes.'”

Reflection: Rebekah’s deception in favoring Jacob over Esau shows the destructive impact of parental favoritism and deceit. Such actions can lead to family discord and long-term resentment. Parents are called to be fair and truthful, ensuring equal love and support for all children to maintain harmony and trust within the family.

2 Samuel 13:21

2 Samuel 13:21 (NRSV): “When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry.”

Reflection: David’s anger over Amnon’s crime without taking corrective action led to further tragedy in his family. This verse underlines the necessity of addressing wrongdoings with appropriate actions, not just emotions, to prevent the escalation of sin and maintain justice within the family unit.

A family sitting in a cozy living room, with parents and children engaged in a meaningful conversation.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NRSV): “Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.”

Reflection: This passage emphasizes the importance of consistently teaching God’s word to children. Parents are tasked with instilling faith and values in their children through daily conversations and actions, ensuring that the next generation understands and follows God’s commandments.

Ephesians 6:4

Ephesians 6:4 (NRSV): “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Reflection: Paul advises fathers to avoid harshness that leads to resentment, instead nurturing their children with godly discipline and instruction. This balance of love and discipline is essential for raising children who respect authority and live righteously.

Colossians 3:21

Colossians 3:21 (NRSV): “Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart.”

Reflection: Parents should be cautious of actions that can discourage or embitter their children. Constructive criticism and loving guidance are crucial in maintaining a child’s self-esteem and motivation. This verse encourages parents to foster an environment of encouragement and support.

1 Timothy 5:8

1 Timothy 5:8 (NRSV): “And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Reflection: Providing for one’s family is a fundamental Christian duty. Neglecting this responsibility reflects a denial of faith. This verse calls parents to ensure the well-being of their household, embodying the love and provision exemplified by Christ.

Proverbs 29:15

Proverbs 29:15 (NRSV): “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by a neglected child.”

Reflection: Effective discipline imparts wisdom, while neglect leads to shame. This proverb underscores the necessity of guiding children through correction and instruction to cultivate wise and honorable individuals.

A family scene showing a father and mother looking distressed and sorrowful in their living room.

Proverbs 17:25

Proverbs 17:25 (NRSV): “A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him.”

Reflection: A child’s folly causes deep sorrow to parents. This verse highlights the emotional toll of poor parenting and the importance of nurturing wise, responsible children to bring joy and pride to their parents.

Proverbs 19:13

Proverbs 19:13 (NRSV): “A foolish child is a ruin to a father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.”

Reflection: This verse speaks to the destructive impact of a wayward child and a contentious household. Parents are called to foster peace and wisdom within the family to avoid such turmoil and maintain a harmonious home environment.

Proverbs 29:17

Proverbs 29:17 (NRSV): “Discipline your children, and they will give you rest; they will give delight to your heart.”

Reflection: Proper discipline results in peaceful and joyful family life. Parents who invest in their children’s upbringing through guidance and correction can look forward to a harmonious and fulfilling relationship with them.

1 Samuel 3:13

1 Samuel 3:13 (NRSV): “For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.”

Reflection: Eli’s failure to restrain his blasphemous sons led to divine judgment. This verse stresses the importance of parental responsibility in curbing sinful behavior to prevent severe consequences for the family.

Hosea 4:6

Hosea 4:6 (NRSV): “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

Reflection: Ignorance and rejection of God’s law lead to destruction. Parents are urged to instill knowledge of God’s word in their children to secure their spiritual well-being and avoid divine rejection.

A parent teaching a young child how to read a Bible in a cozy and well-lit living room.

Proverbs 22:6

Proverbs 22:6 (NRSV): “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.”

Reflection: Early training in godliness ensures lifelong adherence to righteous paths. This verse encourages parents to diligently teach their children the ways of the Lord, guaranteeing a steadfast faith as they grow.

Proverbs 22:15

Proverbs 22:15 (NRSV): “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far away.”

Reflection: Children naturally exhibit folly, which requires correction. This proverb advocates for disciplined guidance to instill wisdom and drive away foolishness, shaping responsible and wise adults.

Deuteronomy 4:9

Deuteronomy 4:9 (NRSV): “But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children.”

Reflection: Parents are tasked with passing down their spiritual experiences and knowledge to future generations. This ensures that the legacy of faith and obedience to God continues, fostering a strong spiritual foundation in the family lineage.

Psalm 78:4

Psalm 78:4 (NRSV): “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”

Reflection: Declaring God’s mighty works to the next generation is vital for preserving faith. This verse calls parents to actively share testimonies of God’s goodness, ensuring that their children recognize and worship Him.

Proverbs 13:24

Proverbs 13:24 (NRSV): “Those who spare the rod hate their children, but those who love them are diligent to discipline them.”

Reflection: Loving discipline is essential for a child’s growth and long life. This proverb underscores that neglecting correction is a form of neglect and ultimately harmful. The voice of his father and mother must guide the child, ensuring the iniquity of the father does not repeat. Discipline, when applied with the love of God, leads to the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Good parents, like wise of heart individuals, recognize that shaping a rebellious son into a wise son involves godly correction, fostering good deeds and character within their own household. By following the Lord’s discipline, parents help their children become good men and women, reflecting God’s way in their daily lives. This loving approach ensures children grow up understanding the importance of discipline, setting them on a path toward eternal life and fulfilling the high positions God has planned for them.


A distressed Isaac and Rebekah looking sorrowful in their home, reflecting on Esau's marriages.

Genesis 26:34-35

Genesis 26:34-35 (NRSV): “When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite; and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.”

Reflection: Esau’s marriages to Hittite women caused great distress to his parents, illustrating the long-lasting impact of children’s choices on their parents. This verse calls for parents to guide their children’s decisions, emphasizing values and relationships that align with godly principles to ensure family harmony and spiritual unity.

Genesis 31:1

Genesis 31:1 (NRSV): “Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, ‘Jacob has taken all that was our father’s; he has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.'”

Reflection: Family conflicts over wealth and inheritance can lead to bitterness and strife. This verse highlights the importance of fairness and integrity in family dealings, urging parents to teach their children the value of honesty and contentment to prevent discord and promote peace.

1 Samuel 8:3

1 Samuel 8:3 (NRSV): “Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.”

Reflection: Samuel’s sons’ corruption serves as a warning against neglecting moral and spiritual training. Despite Samuel’s faithfulness, his sons’ actions brought shame and injustice. Parents must ensure their children understand and uphold ethical standards to prevent such deviations and societal harm.

Exodus 21:15

Exodus 21:15 (NRSV): “Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death.”

Reflection: This severe commandment underscores the seriousness of honoring one’s parents. It serves as a stark reminder that disrespect and violence against parents are grievous offenses in God’s eyes, urging families to foster mutual respect and reverence.

Malachi 1:6

Malachi 1:6 (NRSV): “A son honors his father, and servants their master. If then I am a father, where is the honor due me? And if I am a master, where is the respect due me? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. You say, ‘How have we despised your name?'”

Reflection: Just as children are to honor their parents, so are believers to honor God. This verse draws a parallel between familial and divine respect, encouraging parents to teach their children reverence for God as foundational to their faith and conduct.

A parent gently disciplining a young child with a stern but loving expression, set in a cozy home environment.

Proverbs 23:13

Proverbs 23:13 (NRSV): “Do not withhold discipline from your children; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.”

Reflection: Discipline, though often difficult, is vital for a child’s development. This proverb reassures parents that correction is beneficial and necessary for instilling wisdom and proper behavior, highlighting the long-term benefits of disciplined upbringing.

Exodus 20:12

Exodus 20:12 (NRSV): “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Reflection: The fifth commandment promises longevity and blessing for those who honor their parents. This foundational principle calls for respect and obedience within the family, ensuring that parental authority is upheld as a reflection of divine order and blessing.

Proverbs 1:8

Proverbs 1:8 (NRSV): “Hear, my child, your father’s instruction, and do not reject your mother’s teaching.”

Reflection: Parental instruction is invaluable in shaping a child’s character and future. This verse encourages children to heed their parents’ wisdom, recognizing the importance of their guidance and the stability it brings to their lives.

Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29:11 (NRSV): “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Reflection: God’s promises provide a hopeful future for His children. This verse reassures parents that teaching their children to trust in God’s plans brings comfort and confidence, knowing that their ultimate well-being is secure in God’s hands.


A parent gently disciplining a child in a loving manner in a cozy home setting.

In conclusion, the Bible offers profound insights into the responsibilities and impacts of parenting, emphasizing the importance of adhering to the first commandment and honoring God in all aspects of family life. Bad parents neglect the wisdom found in God’s word, leading to the iniquity of the father and the sins of the son.

Conversely, a good father imparts discipline and love, fostering a wise son who brings joy and is respected among the elders of his city. The Ten Commandments and the peaceful fruit of righteousness serve as guides for parents to follow God’s way, ensuring their children grow up to be good men and women who perform good deeds and embody the living stone of the new covenant. Through the love of God and the support of our faithful partners, parents can navigate the hardest jobs and difficult circumstances, raise children who honor the voice of their father and mother, and ultimately secure eternal life.

The words of my mouth and the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ remind us that parenting is a reflection of our relationship with our Heavenly Father, encouraging us to build a spiritual house filled with the peace of God and the pure spiritual milk necessary for a godly and quiet life.

About Post Author