Prodigals

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Mentoring Tips

Make one-to-one mentoring easier by learning what to do and what not to do.  Click to learn more.

Tip#1 – Find your PLACE

  • Pray: simple yet powerful act
  • Listen: people want to feel heard
  • Ask: good questions foster productive dialogue
  • Consider: think slowly and biblically
  • Encourage: uplift rather than beat down
Tip#2 – Avoid the common mistakes

  • Fixing: this is a person, not a project
  • Preaching: walk alongside, don’t talk at or down to them
  • Carrying: show concern but don’t carry too heavy a burden
  • Blaming: no condemnation in Christ Jesus
  • Rescuing: you are not their savior!
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Scriptures
Hope
Help
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Conversations
Starters
    • Has your child ever discussed his relationship with Jesus with you?
    • Describe for me your current relationship with your prodigal child? What was your relationship with him like before? When did it change? Why do you think it changed?
    • In what ways is your child like you at that same age?
    • In what way do your child’s actions embarrass you? Why?
    • What have you tried in the past to curb your child’s rebellious nature? What were the results?
    • What are your expectations of your child? Are any of them unclear or unreasonable?
    • In what ways are you allowing your child’s behavior to control your emotions?
    • How does your child’s rebellious nature make you feel about yourself, your spouse, your parenting, your future?
    • In what ways might you and your spouse have parented this prodigal differently than you parented their siblings?
    • What are you doing now to try to communicate love and acceptance to your prodigal child? What holds you back?
    • What is your deepest desire for your prodigal child?
    • I believe that the most important relationship your child will ever have is his (or her) relationship with Jesus Christ. Are you a follower of Christ? What does that mean to you?
Deeper Questions
    • When was the last time you took your prodigal child to a casual lunch? Even though the conversation may be awkward, they will feel valued to have your time and to know that you are not embarrassed to be with them in public.
    • How are you able to show an interest in something your child is interested in? See if you can find something in what they read, listen to, or do that can create a common bond.
    • In what way does anger or fear rule your relationship with this child? Are you quick to listen and slow to speak? (James 1:19)
    • What is one small thing you can do today that will reduce the tension that exists between you and your prodigal child?
    • In what ways are you assuring your child that they are loved unconditionally?
    • Are you willing to forgive and extend grace for as long as is necessary?
    • Are there areas where you need to seek forgiveness from your child? (Matthew 5:23-24)
    • Are there ways that you have been enabling your child’s poor behavior?  How could you begin to change that area?
    • What do you think God may be teaching you through the experience of having a prodigal child?
    • What is one step you can take in the right direction and how can I help you do that?
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Resources
Online Helps
Other Ministry Links
  • Groundwire Online help for teens, specializing in crisis situations like cutting, suicide, drug use, etc.
  • Heartlight Ministries Christian boarding school with counseling for troubled teens
  • Salem4Youth A working ranch for prodigal boys
  • Purpose Driven Camp Christian treatment service for families with troubled teens
Books
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Encouragement
Quotes
  • - Dan Allender, How Children Raise Parents, p. 26

    “Our children hunger to know that they are loved unconditionally, through failure and success, no matter what they say or do. And, while few would ever admit it, they are dying to experience the security and comfort that come with appropriate boundaries.”

  • - Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Parenting Today’s Adolescent, p. 54

    “The family must become the harbor in the storm. The family must be that safe haven that always welcomes your teens back. No matter what the world says to them, they know they can find love there. We often tell our children, ‘Nothing you can do will make me love you any more and nothing you can do will make me love you less.’”

  • - Tim Kimmel, Grace-Based Parenting, p. 240

    “Raising spiritually passionate kids who have a strong belief system is not formulaic. You have to deal with a child’s abstract emotions and fickle heart. Your children’s relationships with God can’t simply be programmed by their environment.”

  • - Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, p. 183

    “The enemy uses two opposite lies to put parents in bondage. The first is that they have no control or influence over how their children have turned out … The second is that they are 100 percent responsible for how their children have turned out—that it is all their fault. They fail to recognize that, regardless of how well or poorly anyone is parented, each individual must assume responsibility for his or her own choices.”

  • - Dan Allender, How Children Raise Parents, p. 215

    “The more we set as our goal to parent with perfection, the more we will not only fail, but we will fail with rigidity, anger, and guilt. We will come to covertly hate our children since their presence in our lives is the occasion for what we perceive as our greatest failures.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, Why Christian Kids Rebel, p. 25-26

    “Young people can figure out pretty quickly whether you really want to understand where they are coming from. Your concern may not cause an immediate about-face in their behavior, but it ultimately makes them more inclined to trust you and respond to what you are trying to do for them.

  • - Phil Waldrep, Parenting Prodigals, p. 23

    “Self-discovery is a very lonely and difficult course, but for most prodigals, it is the only path back. No one else can help them until they are ready to face some harsh realities.”

  • - Phil Waldrep, Parenting Prodigals, p. 212

    “Rather than becoming obsessed with the evil around you, ask God to give you a fresh perspective to see how He can bring good out of it. Look for the hand of God in your difficult situations. He is willing to use even the most horrible sins and the most foolish choices, as long as we trust Him to do just that.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, The High Cost of High Control, p. 163

    “Rebellion during children’s teenage years is often little more than an attempt to gain enough breathing space from their parents to figure out who they are—and what their relationship with God is going to be.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, Why Christian Kids Rebel, p. 236-237

    “As much as possible, keep all lines of communication open. Enjoy the interaction you have with them outside the times you are forced to deal with their rebellious attitude. Don’t let conversations about their bad behavior dominate so much of your focus that it destroys the foundation of love you established with them before the rebellion began.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, Why Christian Kids Rebel, p. 10

    “Your willingness to acknowledge your own feet of clay is one of the best starting points when it comes to helping your children, especially when they have chosen to embrace an attitude of rebellion against you, God, or both. A realistic view of ourselves forces us to lean on God and helps us look at our rebellious children through His loving and grace-filled eyes.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, The High Cost of High Control, p. 222

    “Strong-willed children, if brought up right, can have an incredible impact for God’s cause. The key to strong-willed children is that they want to have some control of what’s going on in their lives. Without surrendering one bit of authority as a parent, you can still let them pick what they want from a restaurant menu, the outfit they want to wear, which bed they want to take a nap in, and so forth. Choose your battles carefully or it will become one high controller pitted against another. In most cases, you’ll lose.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, The High Cost of High Control, p. 162

    “When we try to protect children from failure by making decisions for them, we not only discourage them, but we handicap them, too. They don’t feel like true participants in the activities that make up their lives. Furthermore, they develop a sense of being victims. Then they can develop a mind-set that they aren’t really to blame when they make mistakes, which leads them to not assume responsibility.”

  • - Crawford Loritts, Never Walk Away, p. 70

    “We can do all of the right things and some of our children will still turn out to be less than we hope. Even the best of our children embrace some foolish behavior at some time. Regardless, let’s make sure that we are doing all that we can to avoid giving them any parental justification for their foolishness.”

  • - Tim Kimmel, Why Christian Kids Rebel, p. 37

    “Many parents spend decades reacting to their child’s rebellious behavior without ever realizing that the child is having serious issues with God. This lack of understanding on the parents’ part only makes the child feel that much more frustrated. It behooves parents to consider rebellious behavior as a symptom of a deeper struggle.”

Next Steps
    • Esteem your mentee for reaching out for help in the midst of what must be a heart-breaking, difficult season of life
    • Let them know they are not alone, many parents know the pain of parenting a prodigal child
    • Encourage them to get involved in a local, Bible-believing church for spiritual growth and accountability
    • Challenge them to join a group of other parents for encouragement and prayer
    • Encourage them with Scriptures of hope and help
    • Assure them that you care about them and plan to be with them to find solutions together
    • Encourage moms to connect with other moms on the MomLife Today blog
    • Encourage dads to consider connecting with other men in a Men’s Fraternity group
    • Encourage them to pray for their child and trust God to work in his life
    • Encourage them to express love and acceptance through words and actions as consistently as possible
    • Remind them that unconditional love will keep the door open for when their child may be willing to change
    • Remind them that God did not wait for us to stop sinning before he loved us. He loved us “while we were yet sinners.”
    • Encourage them to establish loving boundaries around behaviors that are destructive to the family
    • Remind them that love and bitterness are both incredibly powerful. One has the power to heal, the other to destroy.
    • Encourage them to keep trying to connect with their prodigal child even when those efforts seem to be ignored or rejected.
    • Encourage them to reach out for help. Loving a prodigal can be exhausting. Seek help from your pastor, elders, others who have been through a similar experience, or a professional Christian counselor if necessary.
    • Encourage them to take care of themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Eat well, exercise, have some fun, and spend time with God, both alone and in fellowship with others. Re-charging your energy as a parent is crucial.