Monday, January 23, 2012

How Do We End Up on This "Prodigal Road"?

How do we end up on this road of prodigal parenting?  Seems I've been on this road a while.  I just wish I knew how I got here, and had the opportunity to go back and change whatever directed our path.  My husband and I have been married almost 30 years.  We have three daughters.  We have twins who will be 23 in the spring, and another daughter who will be 22 shortly after her sisters' birthday.  For the last two years, I've called myself the prodigals' mom.  I contacted all kinds of support groups, and searched on line.  There were no church or support groups for parents of prodigals in my area.  Groups in other areas did not want to email or copy me their minutes or newsletters because the information they shared with their groups was "private" and "confidential".  I really didn't care about those peoples names and such.  I just wanted the chance to learn how to save my own children.

I guess I'm a little ahead of myself.  We are a Christian family.  My husband is a retired police officer and I owned a child care center for many years.  We've worked with troubled kids our whole careers.  When our children were small, people used to come to us and ask for advise on how to parent their own children.  Still to this day, friends say to us that our children were always perfect.  They didn't think we'd ever have problems with our kids.  They can't believe how our lives have turned out.  And neither can we.

Two of our children have been on and off this prodigal road.  They are not living the lives God has chosen.  They are not walking in the light, seeking God's will for their lives.  It's so hard as a mother to wonder what you did, or didn't do, that lead your children to this path. 

I know my own children are adults and legally can make their own choices and lead their own lives.  I just wish I understood why they are making the choices they are.  One of our daughters has settled down some, and seems to be trying more than she has recently.  She is still in a bad relationship, living with a convicted felon.  But I have heard her say more than once in the last week, that this relationship is about over and he is about to be out the door.  I don't comment.  I just leave her be, and pray that this time she will follow through and get that baggage out of her life.  I'm sure I will tell you more about all this later.  This is just an introduction, right?

But our other prodigal daughter is my main concern in the last 24 hours.  Ten months ago, she was living in an apartment in a neighboring city, with a man who does not care about her, or respect her.  He is a good deal older than she is.  He waits tables nights, and shoots pool and drinks and does drugs.  He has no ambition.  At one point in this relationship, daughter pawned her car to get him out of jail.  I don't understand why my daughters are attracted to such losers.  It breaks my heart.

So, Easter Sunday, almost a year ago, our daughter asked her cop father and another cop friend-of-the-family to go with her to get her things.  They went with her to tell the guy she was leaving, and waited while she packed her stuff.  It was one of the happiest days of my life.  We told her that if she moved home, in a year she wouldn't recognize her life.  She was about to be evicted, and would have been homeless.  I got her back in school, and she resumed her studies in Criminal Justice.  She made wonderful grades, and worked very hard at her schooling.  She has struggled with finding a good job, but is employed.  She has dated a couple of nice guys, and once we thought she was serious.  But suddenly she broke it off, and resumed being alone.  She is depressed a lot.  She doesn't seem able to follow through with the plans she makes.  I don't know.

Well, here we are a year later.  She was doing real well, but still struggling in some areas.  Then last Thursday night, she didn't come home.  She called Friday to see if I realized she didn't come home.  When I said something about it, she told me she was at work, and she would call me back.  I never heard from her again.  She didn't come home Friday or Saturday.  Sunday I had her phone cut off.  That was part of our agreement.  If she moved home, I would give her a phone on my plan and put her on my car insurance.  If she moved, she had to take care of those things herself.  When she came home 10 months ago, she had warrants for not having insurance, and had to be arrested to clear them up.  So yesterday her dad sent word to her through her sister that she must have decided not to live here anymore, so she needed to come get her things. 

She came to get her stuff.  She has gone back to the bad man she was living with previously, who beat her up so bad I had to take her to the hospital, then he stole her money and pain pills.  I guess that means she has decided to return to other bad habits as well. 

I will continue to share here as I work my way through all this.  I know I have come to a point in my life where I have to let go of my daughter, and give her to God.  Pray that He protects her, and that one day she will look up and see the life she can have if she leaves her "friends" that don't want her, only what she can provide.

I have tried to start parenting support groups locally.  To talk about problems, resources, and pray together for our children.  I've put ads in the classifieds and on the internet.  I get encouragement emails from strangers, but no one who needs support like I do or want to meet.  Am I the only parent of mixed up, lost children?  Or do other parents just do a better job of ignoring what their adult kids do?  I don't have a clue.

I made an appointment to talk to my preacher.  I shared about our children with him, and a spacific problem that I wished for him to pray over with me.  My preacher then informed me that "he didn't pray those kinds of prayers anymore"!?  He thinks a person's faith should be strong enough that they can pray for themselves, and that God doesn't want us to pray for someone else "against their will".  I can't pray my daughters will change and follow God's path, etc, etc, because if God listened to my prayer he would be a respecter of persons and everyone has free will.  This is per my preacher.  That would be true MAYBE if my daughters were praying, but I don't think they are.  I have always believed that we are told to pray for each other. 

In James 5:16, we are told:  "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. "  Does this mean we only pray for each other after we confess faults or sins?  Our prayers are only for healing?  Surely that can't be?

What about a prayer of agreement?  In Matthew 18:19, the writer says, "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven."  Isn't that what I wanted my preacher to do?  Pray for me for my daughter to be saved from her sins, to leave the life she is involved in, and for God to open her eyes so she can escape the grasp of Satan?  I don't think my praying for my daughter is a violation of her free will.  If I could violate her free will, I already would have.  I just have to pray and trust God.  I believe it will work, even if others don't.  I have to pray for my daughter.

Others tell me that this is just a season.  That my daughter will mature and return to the life she was led to lead.  Don't other parents believe that, and it never happens?  What if my daughter gets so lost in this lifestyle that she can't get away?  What if she takes too many drugs, or someone gives her something she is not aware of?  What if she gets arrested and her whole future is changed from the dreams she once had?

Maybe someone will read this and have some advise to share. 

The Prodigals' Mom


  1. With all due respect to your preacher, praying for someone to repent of their sins and receive the free gift of salvation seems hardly an inappropriate prayer for a Christian to pray!

    I will tell you, if it were me, I would be praying that God would bring believers into her life that she is willing to listen to, that her heart would be softened, that He would protect her, and so much more. I'd be crying and begging, because that's just how I'd feel. And He could handle that.

    I confess I bristle when I hear people suggest that there is ANYTHING you should not discuss with God! Seems to me the Psalms are a great place to start, if you want to see some real and raw praying! David didn't hold back, and God called him a man after His own heart! The enemy would like nothing more than for us to be discouraged from seeking God's face.

    In addition, of course we do not understand it all, of course we sometimes ask God for things He can't give because He is holy, but doesn't the Spirit intercede for us? Can't we say Lord, your kingdom come and your will be done in my daughter's life? Isn't His perfect will that she turn to Him with all her heart and live with joy? I believe so. I stand in agreement with you in prayer, and have just prayed for your girl.

    Scriptures that underpin my belief that we SHOULD pray for the lost are Romans 10:1 and 1 Tim 2:1-6. Here is a great resource:

    As for her free will, was it a violation of her free will when you served her a nourishing meal that she enjoyed as she was growing up, even though she didn't choose it? No, you love her, you gave her a good gift, and she was blessed. Praying for someone's salvation is the same. It is a blessing to live life with the Lord. On top of that, prayer draws YOU close to the Lord, and you will be greatly encouraged and strengthened daily to walk this painful path and trust Him.

    Oh my, this really got me emotional! I will continue to pray for your daughter as the Lord leads and as she comes to mind. Stand firm! You are a courageous mother.

  2. Thank you SO much! You don't know how much I needed encouragement and support. I appreciate this time you took to read this, comment to me, and pray for my daughter. I also thought this morning about praying for Christians in her life that she would be willing to listen to. I don't agree with our preacher about his views on prayer, and a few other things. Thanks for praying in agreement with me. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. A Mama can't give up on her daughter!