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3 Mistakes When Parenting a Prodigal

Parenting mistakes. We all make them! I’ve shared with you before, some of the mistakes I’ve made in my own parenting which are very common.

But as I’ve been thinking back on my parenting journey, God has impressed some thoughts on my mind. Thoughts related to parenting mistakes that we make when we have a prodigal child.

Let’s take a look at 3 mistakes we can make when parenting a prodigal:

I think there can be a wide range of behavior that describes a prodigal child. Some may be showing some beginning signs of rebellion where others may be living in outright rebellion to what they have been taught from God’s Word.

I’ve been guilty of many mistakes at different times. Especially when I was concerned that one of my children was going in the wrong direction, or headed towards becoming a prodigal.

Avoid These Parenting Mistakes

3 Mistakes When Parenting a Prodigal The Character Corner

1. Fretting over your prodigal child

As parents who spend time investing in the training of their children, we long for God’s blessing on their lives. When we see them making choices that we know can bring unpleasant consequences, it is easy to begin to worry.

If we aren’t careful, we can become consumed with worry.  God doesn’t want us to carry that burden, but rather give it to Him.

There have been many times over the last 34 years of raising our eight kids, that I would lay in bed fretting over a prodigal child. Again, it may not have even been a big, major issue. However, I knew there was a heart problem that could lead to those major issues, and I had trouble letting go.

I had to intentionally picture handing the situation to God, and letting go. Often, I  realized I was holding it again and would repeat the process of saying “God, I know you are in control, and You have told us to cast our cares on You. I give You this burden, and ask You to carry it for me.”

Remember that fretting and worrying accomplishes nothing, other than stressing you and wasting precious energy!

2. Talking to others about it, rather than praying for your prodigal.

Recently I had a conversation with one of my kids that immediately caused me to be concerned about the way they were thinking and where it would/could lead. I tried to communicate my concerns, but didn’t feel that I got too far with that. I walked away from the conversation wondering why so many of our “good Christian kids” are struggling so much with the issues they are.

My wondering then led me to think that I really wanted to talk to a certain person and get their perspective and opinion about it.

Immediately, God convicted me about the fact that I was so eager to run to talk to others about it when I had not even brought it to HIM!! (By the way, I think it is wise to seek advice and counsel about your kids if they are struggling, but be sure to seek God first.)

How very often have I been guilty of that! It’s so easy to talk about the problem and your concern to everyone except the one who has all the answers we need. Only God is able to work in the heart of our kids and bring conviction that we can’t bring. If He can change the heart of a king, He can change the heart of our child. Our best response is to pray for our prodigal.

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3. Taking it personally, rather than realizing that it is a spiritual battle.

It is so easy to get caught up in the conflicts we have with our young people that we begin to allow it to become a personal thing — us against them. We allow the conflict to damage the relationship, which is exactly what the devil is hoping to do! One of his biggest tricks is to get us fighting against each other. We are on the same side, and should be fighting together against him,  not each other!

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Whenever you are having rebellion problems with any of your kids, immediately recognize it as spiritual warfare, and put on the armor of God. Seek His strength, power, and wisdom as you partner with God to love your child and not fight against him, but for him. The best thing you can do is seek to restore the relationship with your child and win their heart back.

Having a wayward child is a difficult thing to deal with, but God will give you the grace and strength you need. He invites you to come to Him for wisdom and to cast your cares on Him. Don’t carry the burden alone, but take it to Him!

Mom, you don’t have to navigate how to parent your prodigal child on your own! We have put together a 7 Day Series to help you!

Join us for the ‘How to Parent Your Prodigal Child’ series and learn how to parent a child who isn’t interested in your faith, the pitfalls of parenting, how to survive parenting a prodigal child and much much more!

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13 Responses

  1. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing, Susan!

  2. Ignore her silence ,say hello, talk to her about simple things, tell her ” you know I love you. (Not a question). Buy her a flower, leave it at her door with a note, ask her over for a coffee, even if the answer is no. Invite her to a movie , shop with her, and pray without ceasing. Best to you and prayers 🙏.

  3. Misty, I LOVE how God brings us what we need right when He knows we need it!! Be encouraged.

  4. God knew I needed this. It came at the perfect time. Thank you!

  5. Kanesha, I’m so glad these words were a good reminder & encouragement to you. Stay strong, and fight for your child!

  6. Thank You So Much Kathie! I Needed to read this post and hear these words, that It Is NOT Personal! Although I know it’s not personal, I tend to get emotional as if it is. Then, it leads to us being against each other just as you said. I think that it is because of the issues that I went through as a child myself and I feel like they come out in my parenting as a single mom! I REALLY WANT GOD’S HELP IN THIS AREA!! I Do KNOW that it is a SPIRITUAL BATTLE and I Always try to remind myself who it is fighting against me! I just need help and I’m Praying right now that JESUS will continue to strengthen me in that area. I Thank God for you and your words of wisdom! GOD BLESS YOU EVEN MORE SPIRITUALLY!! THANKS!

  7. Have you repented or apologized for the divorce? My mom divorced my dad when I was 3. After my dad remarried, my siblings and I preferred to spend holidays with him and our step-mom. Even if you feel happy after the divorce and feel justified in having done it, it leaves a deep deep emotional wound in children’s lives. And even a great step-dad won’t make up for that loss. Just something to consider if you haven’t already. I know God forgives divorce but it does have earthly consequences in our relationship with our children. As I started to raise my own children each time they got to an age that I was when they divorced (3-5 years old) all of that grief and trauma I never got to express came out and overwhelmed me so much so that I had to enter therapy for PTSD. 🙁

  8. Wow – I love hearing this Kim! What a great testimony of a mother’s love, and faithful prayers! That is awesome.

  9. Susan, it’s hard NOT to take it personally, isn’t it? I had to remind myself many times that it was a spiritual battle.

  10. Thank you for the reminder not to take it personally. Recently my prodigal has posted things on Facebook which directly accuse me. I do take it personally because I didn’t do what he says so publicly. But in the end it is a spiritual battle.

  11. Hi Anne,
    I was in a deep depression for over a year and I stopped communicating with my parents. My mother continued to text, leave voicemail messages, write letters, send cards etc. and of course pray for me! My lack of contact had absolutely NOTHING to do with my parents. I eventually got professional help and medication but I always knew God and my mother loved me!!!

  12. Hi Anne, I’m sorry to hear that about your daughter! I’m not sure what to suggest here, except to love her and pray for her. Give her time and space, and pray that she will open up to you.

  13. What to do when your 40-year-old Christian daughter ignores you for 3.5 months and lives right next door? I am also a Christian, a mother who has buried both of her sons. I am deeply saddened by the rejection from my eldest child. I have tried everything I can think of to find out what is bothering her to no avail. She had a fine childhood, though her father and I divorced when she was 5. I have been married for 33.5 years to a wonderful man who doted on her until she pushed him away, too. I would love to hear anything you have in the way of suggestions while I endeavor to give her back to God and let go. My heart is broken. Thank you, Anne

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