I continue to receive emails from parents asking about modern day prodigal children. Whether the prodigal is defying family rules, living an undesirable life style, or leaving to who-knows-where, it’s a heart wrenching experience for any parent.

Parents have poured so much energy, time and love into their son or daughters life. I was prompted to blog on this subject after receiving an email from a Mom who was complaining that her son was getting drunk, staying out late, waking up the family at all hours and smoking weed to boot!

Now get this, she is planning on sending him away to a private University next fall. Let me get this straight, you are going to spend 40K to send this kid to a private school and he is drunk and smoking weed all the time? What is wrong with this picture?

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go” 

That does not mean train up a child in the way YOU think he should go. It speaks specifically to what way God would have your kid go (according to his bent). Let’s face it. Some kids learn the hard-way.

Just like the true prodigal son in the Bible, he went to a far away land. Where no one would recognize him. After being gone for sometime he realized that his father’s farmhands were much better off than he.  He then returned to his home, and his father said,  ”Oh, look what the cat dragged in, did you learn your lesson out there, big boy?”

No.That’s not what it says.  It says,  ”The Father saw him from a far.  And ran towards him and  embraced him. He put a ring on his finger, and put a robe on him. And feasted on the fatten calf.”

I realize that the prodigal son story is one of salvation. It’s really not a study in family relationships. But it does prove a good point– and that is, some people have to hit bottom and be put on their own, to realize that a new direction or path must be taken.

Here are a few suggestions if you are dealing with a modern day prodigal:

  1. If he/she has left the family, make no attempt to contact them. No, not even a birthday card, and certainly not a birthday card with money  in it!  Let all contacts be initiated by your son or daughter.
  2. Exercise patience, you might have you wait a while!
  3. If you prodigal lives with you, you need to find of way of saying (if they are 18 or older) “This isn’t working. We as parents are holding you back. We are too old fashioned for you. You need to go live life the way you think it oughta be lived.”

What you are doing here is showing him/her the door with a smile on your face. I know you are saying to yourself right now, ”Leman, where is he/she going to get the money to live by himself?” Well, I don’t have the foggiest idea, but it would be a great experience for him to get out, live with his buddy and try to make it financially. Would I continue to pay insurance on a car that he owns? No.

I wouldn’t give him/her a dime. There are two approaches here. The slow leak theory is when you watch your kid spiral down week after week. The blow out theory is when you bring things to a head. Some kids grow up easy, and some with great difficulty. But becoming the enabler, and allowing your son/daughter to live under your roof, eat your food, then disrespect you repeatedly, doesn’t help your child and it certainly doesn’t help you.

If you are going through this heartache right now, know that you are not alone. Other parents have dealt effectively with their prodigal. Yes, continue to pray for your son or daughter. Remember that God sometimes puts us through trials to make us stronger. Realize that this tough time on you might be a necessary step in your child’s faith journey and coming to the truth of what life is all about.

As always your comments are welcome!  What say you?

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