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Teenagers ~ Letting Go So God Can Work

July 21, 2008

There is a great parable that Jesus told about a son who left home.  He decided, I guess, that he didn’t need his father anymore so he asked for his part of the inheritance and left.  Reading through that passage again (Luke 15: 11-32), I noticed the wisdom of the Father in letting his son go.  It doesn’t say that he tried to reason with his son, he didn’t refuse to give him his part of the inheritance.  He just did what the son asked and let him go.

As parents we hope that our child will follow God with his whole heart and not rebel.  But many do anyway.  We pray for and with the child.  We teach them what the Bible says about how we should live.  We try to live so that we are good examples, but some will turn away from that teaching anyway.

We have a teenage son like this.  He is a believer, but he struggles so badly with his decisions.  He loves danger and excitement.  He reminds me a lot of Apostle Paul in the Bible.  Paul fought his fleshly desires constantly.  He knew what he should do, yet his flesh would win over again.  God used Paul in such a giant way in the history of the church and Christianity and God knew that in order to shape Paul into becoming usable, Paul would have to suffer.

I think my son will have to suffer greatly before he truly understands the grace of God and falls deeply in love with him.  As a mom, my natural reaction is to protect him from this suffering, but I have to be as the father in the parable & let my son go.  That doesn’t mean that I just let him do what he wants.  I must still guide him in the ways of the Lord.  My love for the Lord will create a natural outpouring of mercy on my son.  He must still know that no matter what, we love him and we will fight for him.  He still has to accept consequences for his bad decisions.  Some consequences are from his parents, but most are natural consequences that God placed there.

So what do I do?

I pray.  I pray like I have never prayed for a child before.  I ask for guidance and wisdom in the training of my son (and all of my children).  I ask that my son will get caught in his sin and found out.  I ask that God make him totally miserable until he becomes desperate for God.  I ask that God would place a hunger for Him in the heart of my son that will create a giant void that my son cannot get rid of without Christ.  I ask that God will help me to get out of the way so that He can work in the life of my son. 

I touch. When our children are little they love to be hugged.  I have a son that hugs me about 10 times a day.  He needs that physical touch from me.  But for some reason when they get older we don’t touch them as often.  They still need our physical affection.  If they don’t like hugs just rub them on the back or hold their arm while you talk to them.  Pat them on the shoulder as you walk by.  Touch them in a gentle and affirming way.  It makes a difference.

I listen.  This is really hard for me.  I’m a talker.  But it is so important that we shut our mouths and just listen to them, not advise or instruct, just listen.  Many times my kids, when we talk together, they figure out what they need to do by themselves through telling me what the problem is.  They just have to say it all out loud with out interruption.  If they need help working through something, we can do that, but I wait for the invitation from them to help.  Sometimes I will interrupt if I can tell that they are working off their emotions & not about to make a wise judgement, but not very often.  Listen to them.  If you don’t, they will find someone else who will.

I look.  I have to work really hard sometimes at looking for the good things my son has done.  It seems that all he does is get in trouble, but I know that he has done something good.  If all I do is point out the wrong things he has done, then he just begins to feel as though he is a failure.  I pray & ask God to show me the good and positive things that he has done.  I know they are out there & often it takes someone else to point them out to me.  Look for the good in your child and then tell them what you see.  Compliment them…a lot!

I believe.  I believe that God is God, not me.  I trust that he really does know what he is doing in the lives of my children and I need to get out of the way and let him work.  I believe that he has my children’s name engraved on the palm of his hand.  He has a plan for them & it is not my plan.  I don’t know what the plan is, I may have a little idea based on their desires and interests, but I don’t know what all of it is.  I must believe that he is guiding them through whatever they need to go through and experience in order to accomplish his plan. Believe that God is at work in your child’s life, it will change your whole perspective.


I hope that if you have a child like I do that you will ask God to guide you and give you the wisdom you need to train and nurture them in the ways of the Lord.  When we have children who disappoint us in their decisions(and they will), we really need to go back to the Lord for mercy and understanding.  Many times my son has really embarrassed me.  I don’t want my friends to know that my child has done that!  It makes me look like I’m not raising him right.  If I had done things differently, then he would be different.  That is pride & false shame & don’t fall for it!  It is of the enemy.

14Our job is to seek the Lord with our whole heart, mind & soul.  Follow Him and live like Him.  If we are doing that according to what the Lord has commanded then we will raise our children according to God’s plan.  I didn’t say that they would all turn out the way we want them to, I just said that we will raise them according to Gods plan.  When my son was born, God knew that he would rebel.  He placed in him a desire for excitement for a reason.  It is there as a part of his life plan.  As a parent, I have to trust the Lord to help me guide my son to learn to use that desire for God’s glory not his own.  Only the Lord can help me with this, I really mess things up on my own.



Lord, I ask that today you would help me to trust you with my children’s life.  Help me to know when to let them go.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2008 4:23 pm

    Oh Dana,
    You are struggling with what I and many other Christian homeschoolers are as well…but so often we seem to ‘keep it secret’ or in the dark. We are fearful and wary of condemnation which doesn’t help anyone in the long run.

    Great post, great thoughts- may we keep seeking the Father’s perspective on our parenting and our life. 🙂

  2. april permalink
    August 28, 2008 7:46 pm

    I am tire of my 14 year old and want him out of my home forever. I do not have money to send him anywhere away from me. What can I do? I am all prayede out.

  3. September 3, 2008 8:19 am

    I’m so sorry that you feel this way towards your son. It sounds like the 2 of you are at your wits end with each other. I know the feeling. There have been many times when I wish there was somewhere my son could go for a while just to give us some peace at home. I don’t know your situation so I can’t give any advice . I don’t know if there is a man in his life. This is so important. You can’t teach your son to be a man, only a man can. I do know that as hard as it is, he needs to know that no matter what he does to himself or to the family you will still love him. You won’t tolerate certain behavior especially if it puts family members in danger, but you still love him. Which means that if/when he comes around & wants to be your son again you welcome him with open arms, jsut like the father of the prodigal son did.
    I will be praying for healing in your family.

  4. koen permalink
    September 13, 2008 7:19 pm

    Dear Dana~
    I found your site today and was quite refreshed when I read this article. I dont take any kind of joy knowing that someones son is rebelling; but I found the honesty about it refreshing. I have 7 children ages 18-2. My oldest began rebelling at age 14. It began with 2 points – hormones and a girl. I wont go through the details for times sake but I will say as his anger at not getting what he wanted grew, he continued to be more and more deceitful. Being quite a whiz on the computer, he developed friendships that were bad influences. He was punished from the computer but we didnt realize how intelligent he was on the computer. He could hack through all our passwords and more.

    Anyway- my point being that there are many with ideas of how a family should function, (that dont have teens yet) and some do -but are very good parents, that probably do not realize the judgmental attitude they exude in their speech, opinions and choices. When his rebellion first began, I struggled with what I did wrong and to add to that for a short time I struggled with the thoughts of what people thought. No one knows til they walk through it.

    I was stunned at the change in personality that occurred just from the hormonal change. My son was affectionate, loved talking with me, would come to me with anything. At 13 when he went with a friend and his parent, he kissed me bye and the mom said how sweet that was. He said, “mom i will never be embarressed to kiss you”
    It wasnt shortly later that he didnt want to be touched.

    He was raised in a loving home and we taught him about the Lord since he was in the womb. We have a good, strong, solid and loving marriage. He was corrected in love and talked with and we prayed about the things he did wrong. My other children love the Lord and strive to live a life that honors God. The choices he makes is not a reflection of my parenting but of his choice to rebel against God, chosing to live his life apart from God. For a period of time in there 15-16, he struggled with what he believed, how to make faith his….and through bad influences satan used and his own harbored anger he chose the wrong way. He will be responsible for those choices. That evokes a fear in me that keeps me weeping in prayer for my son whom I love intensely.

    God showed me clearly that He is in control. He is sovereign. He loves him more than I can. He showed me that even though he was just 18, it was time to let go. (completely) That my time of parenting instructionally was completed. That my role now was to focus on loving Him as Christ does and loving Him to Christ.

    I think that watching your child make choices that you know in the long run will not be the best for them and their life is very difficult. Knowing they are living without a care or concern for God, even rejecting God and denying Him, is the worst kind of pain I can imagine and is indescribable.

    I dont like that this has happened. It is not what I envisioned and prayed for as I held that baby in my arms and felt my heart flood with a love that I had never imagined would be so beautiful, sweet, joyful and overwhelming in a good way. It is not what I would chose for him nor do I like that it has happened this way.BUT
    I do believe God has a plan and will use these days to teach him hard lessons. I fear how far he will have to fall and consequences he will have in learning these but if i focused on that side of it, i would live depressed. I can glory in my God because I know the work He can, and I believe, will do. I magnify God because He is bigger than any problem, choice, barrier…. that can arise in my sons life. I pray for my son and I continue to love him and let him know i love him….. and I wait patiently (or try to) for God to do His work.

    The only thing I would add to what you said is to pray scripture for your child. I wrote a prayer and weaved it with the scripture that God gave me through the years to pray for him and that He led me to specifically pray for him during that time. It is 3 pages but I will get it out and pray for him. I think praying scripture is important because we are praying Gods words and will.

    I think we as mothers need to be sensitive and very careful not to jump to conclusions as to why ones child rebels. We need to join mothers who are hurting over their children. None of us have mastered the art of parenting. None of us are perfect. Every family must function in different ways because familyies are different by Gods design but every family is to glorify God in the way they function and relate to one another.
    So I wanted to commend you for your article. It was very good but I appreciated that you were real. I believe strongly in being real because that is how we encourage one another. (2 Cor 1:4) I have seldom found a website that a mom is real, they all sound like they have it all together.
    so thank you, i will be frequenting your site.
    Blessings to you and
    sincerely Koen

  5. September 13, 2008 8:03 pm

    As I read your comment I kept thinking, “I totally know what she is talking about.” You wrote what I have felt, said & prayed so many, many times. It is comforting to know that other godly Christian moms also, not only go through what I go through, but know that God is Sovereign and ultimately our children belong to him. This brought such peace to my spirit to remember that not one thing will happen to my son( or any of my children) that He is not allowing or in control of. We must encourage each other & not try to fix each other’s problems or judge each other. Thanks for your comment. I look forward to hearing more from you! ~ Dana


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