Do you have a prodigal in your home? A child who defies and rejects the family faith, moral, and value system? A child who takes drugs, abuses alcohol, is sexually active (homo or heterosexual), claims to be an atheist?
This post is not about them.
This post is about the non-prodigal. The one who is getting over-looked or over-parented due to a prodigal presence in the family.
Because of our wayward kid’s attitude and actions we may begin to parent our other children, the non-prodigals, the same way. Like a reflex reaction, we respond in crisis mode to non-crisis issues.
Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s a conditioned response.
Or…the opposite may happen. And rather than over-react, we under-respond. “He’s good. I’m not worried about him. He makes good choices.”
But neither extreme is good relationship building.
Our “nons” need us too. They need us toned-down and tuned-in.
Once we hold baby number two, we know each kiddo is different: different personalities, struggles, and strengths. Each one needs mom or dad to respond in a way that is unique to him or her, while keeping convictions, beliefs, and values in place.
So…unless safety is a concern (like with drugs or other types of reckless rebel behavior) here are six ways to parent a non-prodigal tween, teen, or young person. (Depending on the severity of the issues with your prodigal, you may be able to implement a few of these ideas with him or her, as well.)
- Back off a bit. Act like a consultant or coach rather than a controller.
- Ask questions, “How will this choice or behavior, help you get where you want to go?”
- Avoid being quick with a solution. Let the young adult wrestle with the issue.
- Let the young person own the decision and the result.
- Be loving and encouraging. Support the child rather than the choice.
- Pray that the behavior or relationship you are concerned about leaves the child feeling empty and unsatisfied. Pray the only relationship that can fill that longing is a relationship to the Lord.
Moms and dads, when you find your young adult in a bad situation or making an unwise decision ask questions rather than offering free advice. Step back a bit and allow the young person to own and work out his life choices and own the consequences of those decisions.
Here’s a little check, if you find yourself offering unsolicited advice or begging and pleading with your kid about a behavior or choice, that is when you know you need to STOP, trust God, let go (at least a little) of the child, and GRAB on to God.
Isn’t it better that your non-prodigal child deal with the fall-out of immature or poor decisions while living under your roof?
Having a prodigal in the home can distort a parent’s view. Look at each of your kids with fresh eyes. Don’t let the prodigal’s harmful behavior result in relational collateral damage with your other kids.
Live in harmony with one another,
be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
1 Peter 3: 8
By Lori Wildenberg
Wife to Tom, mom of four
Licensed Parent & Family Educator
Co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting
Co-author of The 1 Corinthians 13 Parent Series:
Raising Little Kids with Big Love and
Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love
and the Study Guides