While there is no single Biblical
or Talmudic text that can be compared to any of the formal parenting advice books that
abound today, there are frequent pieces of sound parenting advice that may be found throughout the Biblical canon,
particularly in Mishlei, The Book of Proverbs.

Often, when one reads advice on child rearing
one is struck by how
simple the advice is and, yet, how significant. With the verses from Mishlei,
however, the wisdom’s seeming simplicity is also rife with deeper meaning to
apply elsewhere in one’s life. For instance, Proverbs 13:1: “A wise son [hears]
his father’s instructions, but a scorner hears no rebuke.”

From a parenting point of view, one could understand this as referring to recognizing the appropriate time and place to rebuke
one’s child. Everyone hopes that their child will be responsible and not break
rules, but when they do, when a child is in the heat
of the moment or the throes of rebellion, nothing a parent can say by way of chastisement will be heard.

Wisdom does not always come with age. Indeed, the appellation
of “scoffer” can apply to adults as well. One
who wishes to enhance their Jewish living will do so, and this is,
metaphorically, the wise child who hears instructions. But what of those who
deliberately disdain Jewish life? This proverb is a succinct reminder that
approaching such a person with harsh words or forceful actions will not change
their point of view.

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