As it is another major holiday, I can commiserate with millions of other parents whose relationship with a prodigal child has either become so strained that every interaction seems awkward, or else there is no communication whatsoever. While your friends are sharing delightful memories and stories of family get togethers on Facebook, there are no photos for you to post (unless you used Photoshop).
Maybe you remember those days when you were able to talk with your child about a great number of topics and there was joy and expectancy in the conversation? In contrast, it may now feel like the majority of conversations are as fruitful as dust in the wind. It is exhausting to constantly put the effort to maintain a delicate balance, desperately trying not to mention something which will bring controversy into the mix. Afterall, you don’t want to be cancelled by your own children when you express a contrasting opinion (sorry if that sounded sarcastic). It may feel like you have been dismissed and you aren’t even sure when that dismissal notice was officially filed. It is an extremely humbling position to be in.
I listened recently to a pastor who has been hugely blessed and he extoled in length a wonderful family life with his adult children and his grandbabies. While he continues to joyously share (and it is a delightful blessing), every day I’m bringing my relationship with my child before my Heavenly Father, praying for resolution. Restoration in their relationship with God and a reconciliation in relationship with their earthly parents. Yet time slowly inches by and you don’t see that adult child approaching from the distance. You just see an ever-widening void in relationship. That’s why I thought the following points by Andrew Linger were very helpful:
- The father didn’t rescue the prodigal from his foolishness.
And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country. (Luke 15:12-13a)
While our tendency is to want to save our children from any pain or heartache that we can see in their future, that is not always what is best. Regardless of their age, don’t be too quick to rescue your kids. Sometimes there are lessons that can only be learned from “the school of hard knocks.” I can remember as a boy hearing my dad say these words, “Experience is the best teacher, you just can’t always afford the tuition.”
- 2. The father didn’t revert to fear when the prodigal went astray.
But while he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion. (Luke 15:20)
When one of your children goes astray, don’t fear. We don’t see a father in this story who is daily wringing his hands in fear of what might happen to his son. We instead see a father who with great anticipation daily awaits and prays with hope for his son’s return. Sometimes parents are guilty of taking their prodigals’ actions personally, even blaming themselves for them going astray. But may I remind you that even the disciples of Jesus who would soon “turn the world upside down” actually failed and abandoned Him in His darkest hour. Yet they returned to be even stronger than before to fulfill and carry out his mission of changing the world. Oftentimes, the thing we see as our greatest fear (our child going astray) actually has the potential to be a part of God’s greatest purpose for their life, enabling them to be used in greater ways in the future.
More to follow in the next post.
Andrew Linder https://godlyparent.com/ Andrew is a husband, the father of four awesome kids, and a children’s pastor at a thriving church. He is passionate about intentional parenting and helping other parents and leaders effectively reach the next generation. He blogs about kids and family at https://godlyparent.com/, and provides proven resources for VBS and children’s ministry at KidzBlast.com.