Who’s to Blame?


Are parents responsible if their adult child is wayward?  Who’s to blame, the parents or the child?

We must stay mindful that two forces are at work in the life of our children: the manifestation of parental responsibility to have sufficiently trained, and the volition of the child, once informed about life’s obligations.

What would cause a child to reject the values taught to him early in life? There are many answers to that question, but at the top of the list should be something the Bible calls depravity (Isaiah 53:6). Man knows what is right, but still he chooses to go his own way. Other reasons for the abandonment of values include:

  • fear (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • loneliness (2 Timothy 4:16)
  • greed (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
  • immorality (1 Timothy 4:12 and 2 Timothy 6:9-10)
  • legalism (1 Timothy 4:3-4)
  • disillusionment that Christianity does not deliver what was promised (1 Timothy 6:5-10)


The apostle Paul saw many people defecting from the faith and listed the above as some of the reasons why people drift away from God. Some may be the same reasons adult children drift away from their parents. Any relational problem a parent may face may be the result of sin on the part of the child, community, the parent, the world we live in, or a combination of all four.

We live in a day marked by a victimization epidemic. The truth is, in most people-to-people situations, we are both victim and agent. Some children are victims of poor parental choices. Yet it is equally true that they are themselves agents of sinful choices as well. Our perspective would have both parent and child taking responsibility for their own actions to whatever degree responsibility applies. Somehow, in the confluence of activity of parent and child, each will have responsibility for their own actions, in some ways responsible for the life of the other, yet each will stand before God unable to shift the blame of sin to the other.

The defining factor of our children’s success (spiritual, moral, or material) is not whether they have the resources provided by good parents, but whether they were given the gift of resourcefulness. Our job as parents is not to make our child this or that, good or bad, wise or foolish, successful or a wasteful. The only things parents can do is give their children the tools that will help them make good, honorable, and successful decisions in and for their lives. We can equip our children with the source of wisdom, be an example of wisdom, encourage them in wisdom, point them to wisdom, but in the end, we cannot make them choose wisdom. Yet, we still give this warning. It will be to the parent’s shame if the child never knew the way of wisdom.



*taken from Growing Families International. Used with permission.


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