Parenting Prodigals

It can be disheartening for parents who seek to raise their children in the ways of the Lord to see them turn from it. Learn these biblical principles to reach your children if they drift away.
June 23, 2024

The Situations

  • The cultural climate and peer pressure make it challenging for those raised in the church to remain in it throughout adulthood.
  • If you have a child who walks away from church involvement or biblical behavior, the enemy wants to isolate and shame you.
  • You are not fully responsible if your child loves Jesus passionately.
  • You are not fully responsible if your child rejects Jesus defiantly.
  • Never give up hope that God can still work in your family member’s life.

The Scriptures

  • Eli’s Sinful Sons (1 Samuel 2:12-24; 3:11-14)
    • When Eli’s sons disobeyed their calling, he kept warning them and discipling another.
    • While a family’s reputation should be protected, more importantly, focus on your child’s relationship with God.
  • Jesus’ Prodigal Parable (Luke 15:11-32)
    • The father didn’t drag the son out of the pigpen; he had to hit rock bottom first.
    • Once genuine repentance took place, the father welcomed his son back wholeheartedly.
    • Anticipate a celebration for a wayward child, but don’t enable them in such a way that delays it.
  • Parents’ Intentional Example (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
    • God’s Plan A for children is for parents to model and instruct a love for the LORD intentionally.
    • Some of the best instructional moments will feel “along the way” to your children.
    • Your home needs to be an unmistakable environment of God’s presence.
  • Early Childhood Instruction (Proverbs 22:6)
    • Training a child includes verbal instruction and a genuine example.
    • Ensure that what you teach is a way to go rather than just a box to check.
    • Always remember that what you invested is still present in your child’s memory.
  • A Father’s Important Contribution (Colossians 3:21)
    • While both parents must be intentional about a child’s discipleship, never neglect the power of a father’s leadership.
    • There is a delicate balance between pushing toward and pushing away from Christ.
    • Your method of teaching should give courage rather than take it away.

The Steps

  • Pray
      • Don’t stop praying for your child’s spiritual transformation.
      • God desires your child to be close to Him even more than you do.
  • Acknowledge
      • If your actions or example have complicated your child’s spiritual development, acknowledge it to your child.
      • Share with your child what you wish you could go back and do differently.
  • Repair
      • Do what you can to repair the relationship with your child if it is strained.
      • Don’t enable their bad behavior, and don’t excuse yours.
  • Explain
      • If their decisions are unacceptable in your and God’s eyes, explain why from Scripture.
      • Remember that in confrontation, it is important what you say and how you say it.
  • Nurture
      • To avoid relational drift, continue to nurture your relationship with your child.
      • Consider the rhythms and methods to stay connected.
  • Testify
    • To avoid being preachy to your child, simply testify how you are growing.
    • Your child can resort to arguments, but he or she cannot argue with results.