When my kids were little I wanted to know how to parent perfectly.

Give me a recipe and I follow it – to the letter.
The problem with a parenting formula is that the ingredients contain unstable elements like: human free will, sin propensity, and unique personality traits.
What happens when parents are blind-sided by their  teen or young person’s decisions, choices, or sin-orientation?
One-size does not fit all.

Parents negotiate hard places differently. It’s important to be respectful of how others approach a challenging situation.  
There are principles that are true for all challenges. How they are played out will be unique to the family, child, situation, struggle, and time. 

Be a Bridge-Builder.

Building bridges is the parents work when a child is on a detour. The relationship with your child may be strained but continue to reach out and let him know you love him and are there for him (even if he doesn’t respond). This is critical. 
One dad continued to text his estranged daughter,  “Good night” and “I love you” almost daily for years. She rarely responded. Now, seven year later, his daughter has returned home. She knew she could come back.
Be a Grace-Giver.
Demonstrating grace and humility lets your child know you are approachable and  love them unconditionally. Acceptance (or nonacceptance) of behavior isn’t the same as loving a person. We often disagree with folks we love. 
Be a Truth-Teller.
This one can be tough. Speaking truth about what God’s best looks like takes an element of courage and a sensitivity to God’s perfect timing. Pray for the words and ask God when to speak them and how to speak them. It has helped me to do my homework so I can direct my child to God’s word when appropriate. (Ultimately my opinion doesn’t really matter) I want to be certain the truth I am speaking is God’s, not mine. I cannot control what my child does with this, that is between the individual and the Lord. (I am not the Junior Holy Spirit.) 

Be a God-Truster.
God is not surprised when our kids take a detour. Even in His perfect garden, Adam and Eve had  free will and there was a snake slinking around.

Be a Prayer Warrior.
Always, continually pray that the Lord draws the child back to Himself.  No matter the wandering particulars, the relationship with Jesus is the main prayer. 
Be a Hope-Holder.
Cling to hope. God can do all things. 
Never, ever, give up.

Love never fails. 
1 Corinthians 13:8

© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.

2 Free Chapters!

Subscribe to Lori's  Eternal Moments blog and receive 2 free chapters from her most recent book, The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections. Thanks for the honor of joining you on your parenting journey.  ~Lori 

Thank you for subscribing!