God calls us to raise our children knowing Him and His standards of right and wrong. He also calls us to model good behavior (including confessing our mistakes, asking for forgiveness when we offend people, etc.) and He expects us to discipline our children, teaching them that there are consequences for bad decisions.
Thankfully, God is well aware of our individual weaknesses as people and as parents, and He is always willing to help us when we ask Him to. My husband and I needed continual wisdom and strength in raising our children.
The saying that “no man is an island” is true. Our behavior (good or bad) can impact far more people than we may ever be aware of. Let’s take a look at two fathers in the book of 1 Samuel in the Bible. Eli was Israel’s priest. His two wicked sons also served as priests. We learn in chapter two (verse 29) that Eli honored his sons more than the Lord. In chapter three (verses 13-14) the Lord foretold the terrible consequences Eli’s family would suffer because Eli knew of their sins and “failed to restrain them.” Apparently, even though Eli asked his sons, “Why do you do such things?” (chapter 2, verse 23), he did nothing about it. He should have removed them from the priesthood. Confronting our children does little if there are no consequences for their actions.
Samuel was a godly judge and ruled Israel faithfully. In his old age, he appointed his two sons as judges for Israel. But “…his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.” (chapter 8, verses 1-3). As a result, the nation demanded to have a king instead of these men. While the people suffered as a result of this decision, there is no record of God rebuking Samuel, so I assume that the Lord did not hold Samuel accountable for his sons’ decisions. We don’t know if Samuel was aware of their actions before the leaders came to him, or how he would have handled it if the people hadn’t demanded a king. We only know that his relationship with the Lord was intact and God did not rebuke Samuel.
As parents, we can only do so much. Our adult children will make their own choices but if our relationship with the Lord is still intact, we can pray for our children and trust in God’s love for them whether they are walking with Him or if they stray. He is faithful. We can do our best in raising them and then entrust them to the Lord.