When I refer to a "child" in this post I am referring to older teens or adult children.
There are many parents that have raised their in kids in Godly homes, parents that have walked the talk (imperfectly), not just talk the talk, and yet some still have "issues" with a child and sometimes more than one child.
In some families all of the children turn out to be responsible and kind, loving the Lord with all their heart and having strong character; with the exception of one child.
This situation causes parents to search for answers, wondering what they did wrong. In desperation it pushes parents to do all they can to fix the situation by manipulating circumstances, thinking that if the surroundings were only different their child would step up to the plate and do the right thing.
Parents will grieve deeply as they watch the hopes and dreams for their child fade away and die as their child rejects what they have been taught. Not the dreams of a career, but the dreams of making the world a better place by walking in righteousness. For the parents it is like living in a state of grief, day after day, month after month, year after year.
Most parents do all they can to help their children become successful adults. When there is rebellion or even a long line of making bad choices and then not taking responsibility for those choices it breaks a parent’s heart. We all make mistakes and fail, but it is important that we learn from those mistakes and more forward, not repeating the same stupidity over and over.
There is no guarantee that you’ll raise great kids. There is no formula or program that has all the answers, but that does not excuse parents from the responsibility of giving it their all, of doing the right thing regardless of how things are at the moment. It is a good thing to read parenting books that apply Godly principals. It is a good thing to get wisdom from older parents, but be careful of your sources, and remember that each family is different and that each child is different. The important thing is not to violate Biblical commands and principles.
How do I know this? Been there, done that…still sort-of there…and I do NOT want a t-shirt!!! This is not a place I want to be, but it does not change the fact I am there, so I, we as a family, are hanging on as we walk this rough road.
Parenting is tough, parenting while walking the straight and narrow path is even tougher! You have got to get to the point that you know that EVERYTHING is by God’s grace. Yes, there has to be love, hard work, dedication and perseverance on our part, but in the end it is all God’s grace.
We are still on this journey and stumbling around as we wait on God’s mercy, but that does not excuse our responsibility of PRESSING ON, pressing on the straight and narrow.
As parents we have got to be faithful even when it seems that every thing is out of control…PRESS ON! When the child does not like you…PRESS ON! When they want to manipulate you by cutting off communication and emotions…PRESS ON! Your actions, your way of life can not be based on their choices.
If you have examined your heart and motives, and sought out wise console and it appears that you have done all you can…then PRESS ON! Keep doing the right thing, remembering that God’s timing is perfect.
A badly behaving child, a rebellious teen or a prodigal adult son or daughter, does not give us an excuse to give up, which in God’s eyes would be "our rebellion". It does not give us a reason to become bitter and doubt God’s sovereignty.
Christian parents of wayward children must remember that it is God whom we are to seek to please. If a child chooses the wide path that leads to destruction, then that is even more of a reason to PRESS ON!
Press on in prayer because this battle is not against flesh and blood, even though it is the parents that catch the brunt of the anger, our battle is a spiritual one. It is one that is won by living a life of faithfulness to God, not to our children. Being a faithful parent is a byproduct of being a faithful Christan.
Parents of Prodigals:
~Repent on issues you need to (NONE of us can parent perfectly). Repent to God and seek forgiveness form your child if need be. Be sure your issues of conflict are not simply preferences, but issues of truly violating God’s commands. This is why it is important to get wise console. If it is issues of preference shower them with grace!!!
~Read Proverbs Daily! Loving a prodigal is HARD! Knowing what to do and not to do is HARD! The Proverbs are so practical in day to day life.
~Parent by Prayer! Little of what we say to our child is heard, but God is the one that will open the ears and soften the heart. God will orchestrate the surroundings and circumstances in ways we never could. Speak less, pray more.
~Love them but do not support them. It is a very difficult balance to love them unconditionally, yet not support their bad choices. You have to stand by and let them suffer their consequences, which is heart wrenching for parents, especially mothers. We cannot come to their rescue, because it is God they need. Constantly reassure them of your love and your willingness to be there for them, but don’t interfere with what God is working in them.
~Know that it is God we worship, not our children nor our parenting skills.
In the end, each of us has to take the responsibility for our own actions, this applies to our children too! We cannot blame our parents for our failures or weaknesses (just because your father was a thief does not give you the excuse to steal), nor can we take the glory when things go well.
One last note. Be VERY careful who you classify as a prodigal. Prodigals are those who reject God and leave it all behind as they try to cut all ties.
There is a difference between prodigals and people who are really wrestling with God and learning for themselves just who He is, and just what IS truth. There comes a point in their lives when they begin their own journey (spiritually) and it is between them and God. This journey usually begins way before they leave home as we slowly let go of their hand and they learn to walk on their own. Let them fall and let God be the one to lift them up, even if it takes years of hard knocks. In the meantime you stand firm where you are and parent by prayer while God continues to take YOU on YOUR journey of faith! While He is teaching your child, He is also teaching you!
We live by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7