On Confronting a Prodigal Child

On Confronting a Prodigal Child
Do you have a child who has disappointed you greatly and is making terrible choices? Up to this point, they may have been a model of exemplary Christian living but have  made several sinful choices. You desire to meet with the child and have a confrontation regarding these bad choices. Let me share some advise with you before doing so:
  • Drop the word confrontation. The worst mistake you can make is to have a confrontation. Instead of confronting them meet with them to express your love, not your disappointment. Confrontations seldom turn out well.
  • Do not make ultimatums. Sometimes parents will say something like choose your sin or choose us and leave their child with an ultimatum. God does not do that. God loves us and continues to bless us in some ways even after we have sinned. An ultimatum seldom turns out well.
  • Begin by showing them your love and your never-dying acceptance of them. Do not reject them in spite of their sin. Reject the sin without rejecting the child. You will drive them further away if you show them any rejection. They must feel they are accepted by you.
  • Be gentle and understanding. Let them know that you are not angry. Assure them that you care about them. Don't show them anger or disappointment.
  • By all means, don't make it about yourself. This is about them, not you. Don't talk about them hurting you or damaging your reputation. The minute you make it about you, the enemy wins.
  • Let the Holy Spirit do his work. I say this to emphasize that preaching at them is not the answer. They already know everything you could possibly say to them. Rather than preaching at them point out the goodness and love of God and allow the Holy Spirit to remind them of the things they already know. Let the Holy Spirit convict them not you. Sometimes we try to do what only the spirit of God is capable of doing. That is a big mistake.
  • Assure them that you will love them regardless of their final decision. If they think your love could be withdrawn they will lose confidence in your love. Sometimes another person is in the wings showing their love. Out-love the enemy. Make sure your love is the truest and most unconditional love they know.
  • Do not argue or fight with them. No matter what they say be understanding. Do not interrupt him. Hear them out. Their feelings may be wrong but their feelings are a reality. Do not argue with the way they feel. Listen to them and let them say what is in their hearts. Sometimes my allowing them to speak they will talk themselves into what is right. An argument never turns out best.
  • Leave the door wide open for them. I don't mean leave it open if they make the right choice. Leave it open so they know that they have not shut the door on the relationship they have with you. They need to be assured that your arms are open for them and your heart is open to love them no matter what.
  • Let them know that no matter what decision they make you will love them and do everything you can to help them. Let's assume they make the wrong decision. That does not mean it is over. God can still restore their lives after a bad decision. Don't leave them feeling hopeless. Don't leave them feeling that they cannot come back. Their minds may be made up and they will suffer the consequences of the wrong choices. Don't make the loss of your loved one of those consequences. Nor should you make them feel that their life is over.
If you ever face this type of situation you need to talk to someone who can help you calm you and assure you. Don't enter into such a meeting without careful prayer and encouragement from someone who will tell you what you need to hear before facing that child. If you go in with the wrong spirit you could inflict damage that cannot be reversed. Be careful. Be wise. Be gracious. Be loving. Be merciful. Whatever you do show them the love of God and every word you speak.