Jewish Texts About Parenting

This is just a tiny sample of Jewish texts on the topic of parenting.

It is important to note that while most of these texts use masculine language, in the majority of texts, ‘parent’ can be substituted for ‘father’ and ‘child’ for ‘son’. Our Jewish tradition over the centuries has been preserved mostly by using masculine language; however, this should not preclude us from reinterpreting the text to include both male and female.

Exodus 20

“Honour your mother and father.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and all of your strength and all your might. And these words which I command you today shall remain in your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children and speak of them when you are sitting in your home and when you are walking on your way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arms and wear them as frontlets between your eyes. and your shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.”

Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go and even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Talmud: Kiddushin 29a

“Our Rabbis taught:
A father has the following obligations towards his son: to circumcise him, to redeem him if he is a firstborn, to teach him Torah, to find him a wife, and to teach him a craft or a trade. And there are some who say that he must also teach him how to swim.”

Talmud: Sukkah 56b

“The folk saying goes: What the child says out in the street comes either from his father or his mother.”

Kotzker Rebbe (Hassidic, Eastern Europe, early 19th century)

A man came to Menahem Mendel of Kotzk and asked how he could make his sons devote themselves to Torah. Menahem Mendel answered:

‘If you really want them to do this, then you yourself must spend time over the Torah, and they will do as your do. Otherwise they will not devote themselves to the Torah, but only tell their sons to do it. And so it will go on.

If you, yourself, forget the Torah, your sons will also forget it, only urging their sons to know it, and they will forget the Torah and tell their sons that they should know it. And no one will ever know the Torah.’”

Adapted from an article on