Meet Carol Barnier.
She’s the author of four books, including Engaging Today’s Prodigal—Clear Thinking, New Approaches and Reasons for Hope, where she provides lessons she learned from her own atheist prodigal years. If you’ve known the pain of parenting a prodigal child, you’ll want to read her book. Here’s a sampling to whet your appetite.
Read on to learn how you can enter to win a copy.
Please Don’t Ask About My Child
You run into an old friend at church you haven’t seen in quite some time. You do a bit of catch-up, the chit chat goes on for a while, and then, here it comes—the question you’ve been dreading—“So, how’s that daughter [or son] of yours doing?”
Paste on that smile. Take in a quick breath, but inside, die . . . just a bit.
Of course, you know precisely which child she’s talking about—the one who surprised you all by turning her back on God, then the family, then doing a 180 from all that you value, finally stepping solidly into the world and away from faith. Yeah. That kid. You are now at a crossroads in this conversation. How will you respond?
Well, you could choose Path A—tell the truth. My kid is in deep spiritual trouble. Her father and I are heartbroken. It’s been incredibly painful to watch her make so many poor choices. It’s even possible that we will not see the face of our child in heaven. And what’s more, we’re worried it might be our fault. Thanks for asking.
Or, you could try Path B and do that little church-speak dance. Well. . .she’s finding herself, trying to determine what it is God wants of her at this point in her life. We’re still hoping she’ll become a surgeon on the mission field, but that may be more our wishes than God’s. [Insert quick laugh.] We’ll just have to wait and see. [Now insert a quick redirect.] So how’s your little Bobby doing? Is he still sending all his money to that orphanage in the Sudan? [Raise eyebrows, indicating eager anticipation. Wait for listener to launch into the Bobby-Praise report.]
I completely understand if the truth model makes your palms sweat. Frankly, hesitation is justified. There’s a good chance that if you open your heart and share your pain transparently with this sister in Christ, you may get whacked for it. While I think she probably means well, there’s a truth she (and perhaps you) haven’t yet owned.
If perfect parenting is a guarantee of perfect children, then Adam and Eve should have been flawless.
Did they not have THE perfect parent? What’s more, they lived pre-fall. There wasn’t even sin in the world. And yet, with all this going for them, these two made perhaps the most severe of mistakes, one for which we’ve all been paying a terrible price ever since. So if God, as the perfect father, can have children who in spite of wonderful parenting, still make sinful, even horrible choices, what makes you think your parenting can do better?
Let go of unnecessary guilt, and put your energy somewhere where it can make a difference.
Readers! What advice would you give to a parent of a prodigal? Or what was the best piece of advice someone gave you if you parented a prodigal? Enter to win this random draw by leaving your comment on my blog.