Will your child be able to return home when she comes to her senses? Will your love for your child overcome your disappointment, your need to judge and your desire to control him or her? Or will you hold on to your pain or hold their mistakes over them? The parable of the prodigal son is clear: God, the Father, does not hold it against us. What then, does this say for us as parents?
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!'”
– Luke 15:17
As Jesus told the story of the lost son, the people hearing it for the first time understood that the younger son’s behavior was rebellious and disrespectful. He asked for his inheritance before his father’s death. As the son of the landowner, he was also choosing to abandon his community. They understood that this brought shame and embarrassment on the family. Yet, the son did it anyway. The amazing thing about this story is not what the son did, but how the Father responded when the son “came to his sense” and returned home. He embraced him. How did the son know his father would at least take him back at all?
He knew because he knew that his father loved him unconditionally. In his heart, he knew his home was a place of safety, love and security and that his father would love him no matter what he had done.
- Children must know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are loved apart from their actions. Parents must show love and tell their children they are loved. Maybe you remember Dennis Byrd who was a defensive back for the New York Jets and was paralyzed from the neck down in a tragic accident. One of the most surprising things about reading his autobiography, “Rise and Walk,” was the way he and his teammates often ended conversations with one another by saying, “I love you.” It’s as simple as this: if professional football players can say it to each other, you can say it to your kids.Children need to know that they are not alone in this journey of life.
- They have to know beyond a measure of doubt their parents will never abandon them despite the circumstances. When children have a problem at school, on the ball field or on the job, they need to know that they don’t have to face it by alone Don’t solve all your kids problems; they need to learn to solve problems on their own—but when they make a wrong choice, they need to know that we will not withdraw our love even if we don’t agree with that decision.
Remember, always deal with your children the way your heavenly father deals with you: Never break relationship with your child. Always leave the door open and the path to your heart open so your child can return home after he or she sows wild oats.