by Pastor Patrick Cho
One of the places in Scripture to find a wealth of helpful principles for parenting is the Proverbs. Almost every book on parenting will reference these Scriptures repeatedly because of the wisdom they contain. Besides the plethora of verses that apply to parenting indirectly, several passages address parenting specifically.
A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. (Proverbs 13:1)
I am sure many people can relate to the experience I had growing up under my father’s discipline. I had a hard time listening to my dad’s instruction. I would sometimes even roll my eyes and sigh, blatantly non-verbally communicating my disinterest. Looking back I see that oftentimes when a friend or another adult mentor would give me the same advice as my dad, I would listen to it and even immediately start applying the counsel to my life. It is no wonder the Bible says so much about listening to your parents. According to Deuteronomy 21:18ff, an obstinate rebellious child was to be put to death for his sin! Proverbs 23:22 states, “Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.”
Now that I am a parent myself, I have come to understand and appreciate how helpful my parents’ counsel was. It is eerie how I sometimes sound so much like my father. Sometimes I catch myself teaching my children the same maxims and lessons using the same words even with my dad’s broken English! There is invaluable wisdom that comes with age, and it is impossible for young children to naturally have the perspective of their parents. According to Proverbs 13:1, part of what it means to have godly wisdom is to listen to your father’s discipline.
No son likes this. No one likes being corrected. No one enjoys being told they are wrong. But the scoffer is the one who rolls his eyes, sighs, and shakes his head at his father’s words. The scoffer refuses to listen to correction, which eventually leads to his ruin. The scoffer, in his pride, assumes that he knows better than his father. There is definitely this tendency in young people to dismiss their parents’ instruction because they feel like their parents are out of touch with the world around them. It is difficult for young people to understand that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9). The issues the world faces may be packaged differently from generation to generation, but at the heart our parents dealt with the same struggles, temptations, and evils that we face today.
My father was not perfect by any means, but I look back and see how I would have been spared significant pain and not made some of the greatest mistakes in my life if I had listened better to my father’s discipline. While I cannot change the past, I can strive to lead my children and develop the kind of relationship with them that they value their parents’ instruction and seek after their counsel. But it will be essential to remember that my children will have the same sinful tendencies the Bible warns against that I had.