No mom raises a child and thinks for one hot minute that their kid might go rogue. Us moms just don’t think like that. At least, not until reality hits us smack in the face.
We find the bottle of Vodka stuffed under the seat of their car, or notice cuts on their arms, or a baggie of marijuana in their sock drawer. Or, maybe we walk into the bathroom after they’ve finished making themselves throw up, or come home early to discover a bedroom scene even Spielberg couldn’t direct as well. Once the room stops spinning, you might just think, “What did I do wrong?”
Every mom thinks like that–we take the hit for the team. It must be me. I did something wrong.
But, what if I told you, this isn’t about you. You might have done nothing terribly wrong at all. What if I told you, you’re just watching your child use their gift of “free will”? You know, that same gift God has given all of us. The same free will He watched you and me exercise at their age?
This is about your child’s heart.
So begins your lesson on clinging to Jesus. This is when you lean on God, His promises, His every reminder that the more wobbly your child’s life becomes, loving a prodigal means He holds you a little bit tighter and reminds you as often as you need to hear it– that He loves your child even more than you do and He won’t let go.
My sweet friend Lori Wildenberg knows the pain of loving a prodigal. She’s written a book for a lot of women walking this dark road, from the deepest place of hurting and healing a mom-heart can experience.
No matter what rebel path your child is walking on, pain is the common denominator and Lori understands. She gives a few tried and true tips in her guest post, today. Make sure to read her post below and then grab her new book, Messy Journey–How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home. I’ve included all the ways to connect with her at the end of this post. You’re going to just love her.
Never Give Up on Your Prodigal
When my kids were little I wanted to know how to parent perfectly.
Give me a recipe and I follow it – to the letter.
The problem with a parenting formula is that the ingredients contain unstable elements like: human free will, sin propensity, and unique personality traits.
What happens when parents are blind-sided by their teen or young person’s decisions, choices, or sin-orientation?
One-size does not fit all.
Parents negotiate hard places differently. It’s important to be respectful of how others approach a challenging situation.
There are principles that are true for all challenges. How they are played out will be unique to the family, child, situation, struggle, and time.
Be a Bridge-Builder.
Building bridges is the parents work when a child is on a detour. The relationship with your child may be strained but continue to reach out and let him know you love him and are there for him (even if he doesn’t respond). This is critical.
One dad continued to text his estranged daughter, “Good night” and “I love you” almost daily for years. She rarely responded. Now, seven year later, his daughter has returned home. She knew she could come back.
Be a Grace-Giver.
Demonstrating grace and humility lets your child know you are approachable and love them unconditionally. Acceptance (or unacceptance) of behavior isn’t the same as loving a person. We often disagree with folks we love.
Be a Truth-Teller.
This one can be tough. Speaking truth about what God’s best looks like takes an element of courage and a sensitivity to God’s perfect timing. Pray for the words and ask God when to speak them and how to speak them. It has helped me to do my homework so I can direct my child to God’s word when appropriate. (Ultimately my opinion doesn’t really matter) I want to be certain the truth I am speaking is God’s, not mine. I cannot control what my child does with this, that is between the individual and the Lord. (I am not the Junior Holy Spirit.)
Be a God-Truster.
God is not surprised when our kids take a detour. Even in His perfect garden, Adam and Eve had free will and there was a snake slinking around.
Be a Prayer Warrior.
Always, continually pray that the Lord draws the child back to Himself. No matter the wandering particulars, the relationship with Jesus is the main prayer.
Be a Hope-Holder.
Cling to hope. God can do all things.
Never, ever, give up.
Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8
Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a life time. She is a licensed parent-family educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. She has written 4 parenting books with Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home published by New Hope as her most recent. She is a parent consultant, national speaker, and lead Mentor Mom over at the Moms Together Facebook Community Page. Lori is a contributor to a number of on-line magazines. Every Monday you can find her blogging about faith and family here. Mostly, Lori is wife to Tom and mom of four. The Wildenbergs home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori’s world is a hike with her hubby, four kids plus a daughter-in-love, and Murphy the family labradoodle.