Read 1 Samuel 2:22-25
22 Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle. 23 Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? 24 You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. 25 If someone sins against another person, God can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death. (NLT)
Old Eli may never have heard of that verse in Proverbs that suggests that if we do the right thing with our children, they will stay on track. It might not have encouraged him! Then again perhaps Eli was himself negligent. His priestly duties might have got in the way of nurturing his children.
Much more likely is the fact that we can’t guarantee how our children will live their lives. We can lay some foundations, offer some counsel, suggest some directions. But the general idea of childhood is that it ends in some degree of independence from parents. They are free agents, not pre-programmed robots who will automatically turn out the way we want them just because we did our best for them.
Some children do fully embrace the life and values of their parents, Christian or otherwise. Other children may only partially embrace such things. Yet others, like the sons of Eli, radically rebel against them. How our children turn out is no sure indicator of the sorts of jobs we have done as parents. Dutiful parents can raise rebellious children; careless parents can end up with solid citizens.
Beware of accepting all the credit for how your children turn out. Because logically you have to accept all the blame for how they turn out. Loving our children does not involve guaranteed outcomes.