When A Child Rejects Your Beliefs
Every teen and young adult goes through a season when they try to establish their own identity by distancing themselves from their parents’ tastes and preferences. What do you do when your son or daughter rejects your faith and embraces beliefs or behaviors that you know could be harmful?
AVOID BLAMING YOURSELF
You may be thinking “They do not listen to me. Everything I say seems to make matters worse. What is the point in trying?” Do not throw in the towel. As far as you are able, stay engaged in relationship. “[They], in fact, still very badly want the loving input and engagement of their parents—more, in fact, than most parents ever realize,” writes Christian Smith in his book, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. Smith demonstrates that parents have far more long-term influence than they realize—more than friends, youth pastors, professors, or anyone else. He explains that “just at the time when [they] most need engaged parents to help them work out a whole series of big questions about what they believe, think, value, and feel…parents are withdrawing.”
Stay engaged as much as possible by writing brief cards, calling, sending text messages, etc. Use words that demonstrate humility and affirmation rather than hurt and judgment. Your efforts may go unacknowledged for some time, but they still serve as deposits for the future by saying ”I will always love you and will be here when you are ready.”
BALANCE GRACE AND TRUTH
The greatest influence you can have on your son or daughter is to reflect both God’s grace and truth (See John 1:14). It can be difficult modeling both—especially when dealing with prodigal children.
Following God’s model of patient love with His rebellious people, you can show love even when facing rejection. Ephesians 5:1-2 explains, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Pray daily that God will use this painful season for good in both your child’s life and your own.
Showing grace does not mean subsidizing a child’s poor choices. Some parents continue to pay all of the child’s bills. Others go so far as to bail their kids out of trouble and let them avoid the consequences of their sins. Sometimes parents must show tough love by allowing the natural fallout of wrong choices to take effect. Remember the Biblical story of the prodigal son. It was not until the boy became hungry that he “came to his senses” and returned home to ask forgiveness. Do not interfere with the events God may use to help your child come to his or her senses.
Parents of prodigal children may experience pain when they read “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it.” Proverbs 22:6 is not a promise. It summarizes a general pattern. Besides, your child’s story is not over. You have made an impression and laid a foundation. Your child’s story is not finished yet. Stay engaged in coming days by balancing grace and truth while anticipating a new chapter in your wayward child’s life.
When They Turn Away
By Rob Rienow
Full of engaging stories, insightful action steps, and inspiring Scripture, When They Turn Away is an inspirational book of help and hope for bringing adult children back to Christ. Author Rob Rienow challenges parents to take a proactive role in leading their adult child to Christ.
Never Too Late
By Rob Rienow
Never Too Late is full of practical wisdom based on four biblical principles designed to guide parents trying to reach their adult children for Christ. Writing with compassion and honesty, he offers a powerful message of hope: it's never too late to point an adult child's heart toward God.