Susie and licensed counselor Leslie Vernick address the difficult issue of Christians walking away from their faith.

One of the biggest ways Leslie sees people walking away from the faith today is in lack of church attendance. Too many don’t value that discipline. Prodigals today also have a much more casual attitude toward righteousness and holiness.

Leslie and Susie discuss some tips for parents dealing with prodigals:

•  If you find yourself repeating something more than once you’re no longer advising, you’re badgering.
•  It’s far more effective to acknowledge that they know how you feel about something but that no matter what they do, you’ll still love them.
•  Focus on boundaries, not behavior.
•  Don’t emphasize that your child is a spiritual disappointment. If you do that they won’t want to be around you.
•  Choose one thing to address at a time.
•  Remember that they are a whole person, they are not their sin.
•  Make intentional fun time together a priority.
•  Once children are adults the parent’s role is to invite and influence.

Antagonism from home only drives prodigals away. Instead of being very negative about a grown child’s behavior, it’s important to regard them as a whole person.  Frequent badgering, criticism and arguing gives the impression that the parent doesn’t respect their child. A child is not going to want to turn to the parent for love, support and direction if they feel disrespected. 

Leslie shares that healthy boundaries parents set are based on empathy, not enabling. Parents need to recognize that they can’t set boundaries on a grown child’s behavior. They can only set boundaries on what happens around them and in their house. In a healthy situation a parent tells a prodigal that they are free to stay in their house, but the parents, as owners of the house are uncomfortable with certain behaviors. If the prodigal continues to engage in those things in the house, he or she will be asked to move out.

Key Scriptures: Ephesians 4:32, Hebrews 6:4-6

Walking with prodigals

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