“You can be the world’s greatest parent and still have a child who chooses to become a prodigal.”
Maybe you were faithful to raise your children in church, surrounded by Scripture, faithfully praying with them each night, only to have them leave the church and reject everything you believe. Sadness, shame, and embarrassment can accompany this dynamic in a family, especially for the parents.
Phil Waldrep has a word for parents facing this situation – it’s not your fault. In his book Reaching Your Prodigal, he shares what he learned after speaking with many people, young and old, who have decided to walk away from the faith they grew up with.
“Whether they’re good moral kids who aren’t interested in spiritual things, or whether they’re battling addiction and destructive behavior… In probably 98% of the cases, not one single prodigal blamed the parenting skills of their parents.”
No parent is perfect, but if your own children have decided to leave the faith, you probably did nothing wrong. Why is this good news?
It’s good news because God doesn’t blame you. Phil refers to the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 – a story he likes to call the parable of the wonderful father – as proof.
“Nowhere in that story does Jesus blame the father or the mother who’s absent. Jesus never blamed the father. It was the choice of the son.”
When those around us ask where we went wrong, it can put our stomach in knots. What is the proper response? Phil reminds us of free will.
“If you think you can do everything right, and it guarantees that your children will turn out right, would you explain to me what God did wrong with Adam and Eve? Or what did Jesus do wrong with Judas? Or what did God do wrong with the children of Israel?”
We can’t carry guilt for the choices of our children. That choice will leave you vulnerable to spiritual manipulation from Satan and relational manipulation by your own prodigal. They’ve chosen their path; the decision rests squarely on their shoulders.
In order to invite your prodigal back to faith, your heart needs to be healthy and unburdened. From this day forward, until the Holy Spirit brings a specific conviction, choose to believe you did not fail in your parenting. That freedom will give you better perspective in building a relationship with the person who has walked away from God.
“When you make that choice, you are on the way not only to joy and victory, but you’re on the way to helping your prodigal because as long as you feel guilty, you’re never going to be able to help your prodigal get home.”