I’ve been re-reading the Old Testament accounts of the kings of Israel and Judah. That history can be summarized as a long series of kings who “did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord,” punctuated by occasional kings who obeyed God’s commands to some degree. The best example of the latter was King Josiah, who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.”
Since Josiah was only eight years old when he succeeded to the throne, it seems likely that his upbringing by Jedidah, his mother, led to his righteous rule (his father being another of a long line of notorious idolaters). Josiah went further than any of the previous kings of Judah or Israel to cleanse his kingdom of the idolatry, cultic prostitution, and human sacrifice instituted by previous rulers and to reestablish right worship of the one true God.
What struck me the most about this history is the way the dynasty bounced back and forth between evil and good kings, all in the same family line. How could a good king arise from a long line of evil ancestors? Conversely, how could an evil king arise from a father renowned for devotion to God? The latter started with Solomon, the son of David; and continued even with the son of Josiah himself, who was fully aware of this history.
The only explanation I can come up with is that the fathers abdicated their responsibility of supervising the raising of their children, leaving the task entirely to the mothers of their sons (not necessarily their queens, since most if not all of the kings had multiple wives), or some third party. As the mothers’ principles were passed on to the sons, so those principles were revealed in the behavior of those sons when they succeeded to the throne.
While Christian parents of our time are not necessarily trying to raise rulers, we are responsible for raising Christian ladies and gentlemen for the next generation. The history of the kings of Israel and Judah provides an example of the consequences of neglecting our responsibility. Parents need to agree between themselves what principles they want to impart to their children, then both cooperate to pass on those principles. Without this, it is possible for Godly parents to raise heartbreakingly evil offspring.