There is a great parable that Jesus told about a son who left home. He decided, I guess, that he didn't need his father anymore so he asked for his part of the inheritance and left. Reading through that passage again (Luke 15: 11-32), I noticed the wisdom of the Father in letting his son go. It doesn't say that he tried to reason with his son, he didn't refuse to give him his part of the inheritance. He just did what the son asked and let him go.
As parents we hope that our child will follow God with his whole heart and not rebel. But many do anyway. We pray for and with the child. We teach them what the Bible says about how we should live. We try to live so that we are good examples, but some will turn away from that teaching anyway.
We have a teenage son like this. He is a believer, but he struggles so badly with his decisions. He loves danger and excitement. He reminds me a lot of Apostle Paul in the Bible. Paul fought his fleshly desires constantly. He knew what he should do, yet his flesh would win over again. God used Paul in such a giant way in the history of the church and Christianity and God knew that in order to shape Paul into becoming usable, Paul would have to suffer.
I think my son will have to suffer greatly before he truly understands the grace of God and falls deeply in love with him. As a mom, my natural reaction is to protect him from this suffering, but I have to be as the father in the parable & let my son go. That doesn't mean that I just let him do what he wants. I must still guide him in the ways of the Lord. My love for the Lord will create a natural outpouring of mercy on my son. He must still know that no matter what, we love him and we will fight for him. He still has to accept consequences for his bad decisions. Some consequences are from his parents, but most are natural consequences that God placed there.
So what do I do?
I pray. I pray like I have never prayed for a child before. I ask for guidance and wisdom in the training of my son (and all of my children). I ask that my son will get caught in his sin and found out. I ask that God make him totally miserable until he becomes desperate for God. I ask that God would place a hunger for Him in the heart of my son that will create a giant void that my son cannot get rid of without Christ. I ask that God will help me to get out of the way so that He can work in the life of my son.
I touch. When our children are little they love to be hugged. I have a son that hugs me about 10 times a day. He needs that physical touch from me. But for some reason when they get older we don't touch them as often. They still need our physical affection. If they don't like hugs just rub them on the back or hold their arm while you talk to them. Pat them on the shoulder as you walk by. Touch them in a gentle and affirming way. It makes a difference.
I listen. This is really hard for me. I'm a talker. But it is so important that we shut our mouths and just listen to them, not advise or instruct, just listen. Many times my kids, when we talk together, they figure out what they need to do by themselves through telling me what the problem is. They just have to say it all out loud with out interruption. If they need help working through something, we can do that, but I wait for the invitation from them to help. Sometimes I will interrupt if I can tell that they are working off their emotions & not about to make a wise judgement, but not very often. Listen to them. If you don't, they will find someone else who will.
I look. I have to work really hard sometimes at looking for the good things my son has done. It seems that all he does is get in trouble, but I know that he has done something good. If all I do is point out the wrong things he has done, then he just begins to feel as though he is a failure. I pray & ask God to show me the good and positive things that he has done. I know they are out there & often it takes someone else to point them out to me. Look for the good in your child and then tell them what you see. Compliment them...a lot!
I believe. I believe that God is God, not me. I trust that he really does know what he is doing in the lives of my children and I need to get out of the way and let him work. I believe that he has my children's name engraved on the palm of his hand. He has a plan for them & it is not my plan. I don't know what the plan is, I may have a little idea based on their desires and interests, but I don't know what all of it is. I must believe that he is guiding them through whatever they need to go through and experience in order to accomplish his plan. Believe that God is at work in your child's life, it will change your whole perspective.
I hope that if you have a child like I do that you will ask God to guide you and give you the wisdom you need to train and nurture them in the ways of the Lord. When we have children who disappoint us in their decisions(and they will), we really need to go back to the Lord for mercy and understanding. Many times my son has really embarrassed me. I don't want my friends to know that my child has done that! It makes me look like I'm not raising him right. If I had done things differently, then he would be different. That is pride & false shame & don't fall for it! It is of the enemy.
Our job is to seek the Lord with our whole heart, mind & soul. Follow Him and live like Him. If we are doing that according to what the Lord has commanded then we will raise our children according to God's plan. I didn't say that they would all turn out the way we want them to, I just said that we will raise them according to Gods plan. When my son was born, God knew that he would rebel. He placed in him a desire for excitement for a reason. It is there as a part of his life plan. As a parent, I have to trust the Lord to help me guide my son to learn to use that desire for God's glory not his own. Only the Lord can help me with this, I really mess things up on my own.
Lord, I ask that today you would help me to trust you with my children's life. Help me to know when to let them go.