No one enters parenthood in hopes their child will grow up to turn them away, push them away, or run away. But sometimes they do, and it breaks a parent’s heart. Parents don’t hope for Prodigals. That means that a week ago, on Mother’s Day, a lot of moms grieved a painful relationship with a distant child. A Messy Journey.
When I first met Lori Wildenberg, she was in the midst of her family’s messy journey. We came together as moms serving other moms, and even in our partnership, Lori served me. Lori shared pieces of her own story in respectful ways, allowed me to learn from her learning, and invited me to pray with her. If a parent ever finds their journey leading through a “messy” place, a painful place, they’re going to long for another parent with experience, wisdom, discernment, and empathy to come alongside them and help.
A trained parent-family educator, Lori is experienced in working with many families. Messy Journey offers a guide for parents of prodigals: kids who have pushed them away, turned away, or run away. The two of us use a lot of Bible principles to guide our own parenting, but even if you’re new to the Bible, you’ll find Lori shares a lot of practical wisdom. Her family’s particular experience will not look just like yours, but the principles help anyone walking through a Messy Journey.
So, welcome to Lori as she talks about When a Good Kid With Good Parents Does Bad Things.
When a Good Kid With Good Parents Does Bad Things
He’s a good kid.
We raised him with solid values and good morals.
How could he make this choice? How could she do this thing?
Confusing isn’t it? We think we have protected our kids from evil, wrong thinking, and immoral behavior because we raised them with our family values.
Doesn’t it seem like a guaranteed good outcome is to be expected?
Why do good kids engage in bad things?
Maybe that is the wrong question.
Do I think my tween, teen, or young adult will avoid making bad choices? When I was young I made plenty of mistakes yet I’m shocked when my kids make them.
Life is filled with the unexpected.
Maybe the question is, “How do I respond when my child engages in sex, drugs, and rock and roll?”
It is hard and hurtful when we train up our children and they go another way. Many good moms and dads have shared their heartache with me. And I’ve had my portion of painful parenting times. We share the feeling of deep loss and experience painful surprise. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought my child would…” is a line we all speak.
What can we do?
- We maintain a relationship with our kids.
- We continue to warn our kids regarding what to avoid.
- We talk with our kids by asking questions when they wander in the wrong direction.
- We ask rather than accuse.
- We enforce appropriate consequences.
- We protect our kids after the issue has been disclosed. (This looks different according to circumstances and people.)
- We continue to be a part of their lives.
- We interact with respect and expect respect.
- We tell them our love is unconditional and our help is conditional.
- We do all this with humility. Because we remember, our parents most likely felt like this about us at one time.
In the midst of the unexpected: Keep talking. Keep protecting. Keep loving.
Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a life time. She is a licensed parent-family educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. She has written 4 parenting books with Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home published by New Hope as her most recent. A parent consultant, national speaker, and lead Mentor Mom over at the Moms Together Facebook Community Page, Lori contributes to a number of on-line magazines. Every Monday she blogs about faith and family at loriwildenberg.blogspot.com . Mostly, Lori is wife to Tom and mom of four. The Wildenberg home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. A perfect day in Lori’s world includes a hike with her hubby, four kids plus a daughter-in-love, and Murphy the family labradoodle.
Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home
Messy Journey helps parents walking the difficult road with a wayward child. Be inspired to drink the deep waters of peace as you draw closer to the Father of all prodigals. Author and licensed parent and family educator Lori Wildenberg offers practical grace- and truth-filled ways of navigating your relationship with a detoured child whether they are rejecting faith, dabbling in sin, or wholeheartedly embracing sinful behavior. There is hope. After all, their struggle isn’t really with you, it’s with God. Get a copy here.
Raising Little Kids with Big Love (for parents of toddlers- 9)
Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love (for parents of tweens-young adults)