What can parents do to bring their prodigal back home, literally or figuratively?
With our daughter, we maintained a relationship with her throughout her struggle. I think keeping a connection is an essential part of loving your prodigal child. As difficult as it can be, parents need to stay in contact with that child. Don't cut them off. Show your love for them. That doesn't mean you accept what they're doing. In fact, we were always clear with Sheryl that we didn't like her lifestyle. Your child might say, "What I'm doing is me. If you don't accept that, you don't accept me." If that happens, it's important to say, "You are not your behavior or your lifestyle. You have value apart from what you do. And we love you as a person. We value you as a person."
Some parents use the subtle-hint approach. They'll put a book in the child's backpack or leave a note on her bed reminding the child that she is loved. They'll say, "Let me tell you how I'm praying for you." It doesn't have to be anything long or complex, just an expression of care and love.
In the end, of course, it's God who will change a child's heart. Parents can only be faithful and know that God is in control.
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Excerpted from Prodigals, a downloadable resource from Gifted for Leadership.