Is your child consistently making life choices that do them more harm than good? Chances are, if this is true, your child is a prodigal. Lori Wildenberg is familiar with what it’s like to be the parent of a prodigal. She shares three keys to walking alongside your prodigal.

The first key is to invest time in prayer.

“Sometimes we treat prayer as a last resort, but prayer is the first thing we should do. Whenever I felt grief, frustration, or anger, I decided to use those emotions as my catalyst for prayer. They would cause me to pray for my daughter and remind myself to trust God with her life. Prayer is huge. Have someone pray with you when you can’t pray because you’re so overwhelmed you have no words.”

The second key is loving unconditionally.

“Unconditional love is really supernatural isn’t it? We really can’t do that without the Lord. Stay in communion with God so that we can do that.”

Just because we don’t agree with the choices our prodigal child is making, it doesn’t mean we don’t love them.

“We can continue to communicate our love and our family unity with our child, that they are an important part of our family and God’s family. It’s important to make sure they know they are loved no matter what.”

Showing unconditional love, doesn’t mean we do everything for our prodigals. The third key is learning to set boundaries on yourself when it comes to your prodigal.

“Unconditional love and boundaries definitely go together. It’s incredibly helpful to set boundaries so that you are able to love unconditionally, but your help is conditional.”

Lori says setting boundaries is not about putting restrictions on your child, it’s about putting them on yourself.

“Often, when we say we’re setting boundaries, we’re thinking about putting boundaries on our kid. The boundaries are for the parents because we cannot control the boundaries for our children. Clearly, they have been breaking boundaries, they are boundary breakers.”

Lori says prodigals are famous for draining time, energy, and resources, but parents don’t have to let it happen.

“They can suck our time away from us because we tend to drop everything and run to whatever the next crisis is. They can get in the way of our relationships with other children or our spouse. They don’t get to have that power. They can financially take a lot of money, so you have to decide what is going to be okay.”

If you’re struggling to love your prodigal despite their life choices, ask God to help you implement these three tactics when walking alongside your prodigal.

Lori Wildenberg understands full well the heartache and struggles of having a young person take an unexpected detour. As mom to a daughter who wrestles with her faith and identity, she personally understands what parents of kids gone astray endure. As a licensed parent and family educator, she is professionally equipped to encourage and empower parents of kids in hard places.

Featured Songs: Trust in You – Lauren Daigle; Tell Your Heart to Beat Again – Danny Gokey; Your Love Defends Me – Matt Maher

Walking alongside your prodigal