Some parents struggle with this question. They do this because the Bible does say, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6)However, we do have record of good men ending up with wicked children (e.g. 2 Kings 18:1-3 cf. 2 Kings 20:20-21: 1-9). Moreover, we do have a record of some men urning out good in spite of the fact that they had evil parents (e.g. 2 Kings 16:1-4 cf. 2 Kings 18:1-3). While it is true that parents do have much to do with how the child turns out, each child does possess the ability of choice.
What about Proverbs 22:6? A proverb is often setting forth a general truth. For example, Proverbs 21:17 says, “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.” Is this always true? Or listen to Proverbs 23:21, “… the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.” This is a general truth, and a good warning, but there are exceptions. Or what about Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Is it truth that sometimes righteous behavior can will over even an enemy. But is such always the result?
It is my experience as a preacher that most children who grow up to be bad, or unfaithful in adulthood do so due to a lack of proper influence, example, instruction and guidance. There are however, exceptions. In Isaiah 1:2 God says, “…I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.”
Parents, do the best you can. Love your children. When you make a mistake, admit it and try better the next day. Train them concerning God’s will. If you do these things you’ll be doing what God expects, and odds are that your children are more likely to turn out right, than if you did not so train them.