It becomes so easy for us to rest in our piety… assuming that we are right. We may flail about with our our voices shrieking like nails on a chalkboard, but it won’t make a difference in the end if we are right. For not only are our voices silently echoing back at us, but more often than not, others (the people of this world) are quietly ignoring us (the people of the Church). The question for us as Christian parents is this: How, then, should we live?
When the Prodigal Son came to his senses and decided to return home, his father saw him approaching from a distance. The father then did something that was, at that time, culturally surprising. He extended unconditional forgiveness.
The lost son knew that his father was a fair man, and that he was better off being his father’s hired hand than out on the streets. So the Prodigal Son made his decision to go home based on what he knew about his father: that he was a man of honor and character. He knew his father would treat him at least as fairly as he treated his hired hands.
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?
The book and video series, Effective Parenting In A Defective World, by Chip Ingram (Focus on the Family, 2006), is a powerful, practical guide for parents with children of all ages. We also highly recommend the DVD study and guide for small groups or Sunday School classes.
As a parent, it’s extremely important that you know your default response to conflict and adjust accordingly. We have three choices: Flee from it, fight back or to face it with love, acceptance and courage. Conflict can be healthy if the latter option is chosen.