Sadly, I have noticed in many of my friend’s relationships with their adult children that have moved out on their own, they walk away from the faith that was taught in their home. They rebel and decide to do things their own way. Some examples are sex outside of marriage, homosexual relationships, experimental relationships, drinking, drug use, partying, smoking, watching or getting involved in cultic activities. Why have their children abandoned what they taught them? Is it just curiosity? Is it normal, to stretch the limits and boundaries? What should be a parent’s response to this behavior? Should we as parents just expect it and accept it as part of growing up? Could we as parents do something different to keep our children from these times?
These are questions I ponder.
I also am amazed that so many of these children that are not walking in their parent’s teachings are struggling and hurting. They seem to want the blessings of God and of their parents, but yet they do not remember that blessings come from obedience and respect. Here is a sad, but true story that shows this behavior.
A daughter moves out of her parents home and into a place with friends. The daughter and her friends attend a church singles group each week. After a short time, the daughter and her friend decided that they not only think that it is ok to have sexual relationships with whatever people they want, but they themselves are bisexual and begin experimenting with one another. One thing leads to another and the daughter is going to bars and clubs and having a good time with friends drinking, even though she isn’t actually 21. The daughter begins to have health problems, employment issues, and trouble with her car and paying bills. Her solution, go to her parents and ask for help. The same parents that she earlier told that she no longer agreed with their Biblical teachings and wasn’t going to respect them. Not only does she go and ask them for help and money, but she also sends out her prayer requests on social media for everyone to pray and ask God to help her in her time of need. She isn’t sorry for her disrespect of her parents or God. She doesn’t repent of her behavior in any way. In fact, she is still involved in a church, and she loves God, and He loves her. He accepts her just the way she is, according to her.
So, what is a parent to do in this situation? Do they let their child suffer from illness? Do they take the child back into their home, their care? What could they have done differently, what should they do know?
I have had the privilege to counsel many single parents, children, and couples over the last 20 some years, through many different times of crisis. There is one common issue, I see over and over in relationships. Pride.
Pride is what gets in the way more than anything else. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what personality type you are, or what your spiritual gifting is, or what your IQ is? Nope, it doesn’t matter if you’re adopted, biologically related, in-laws, parent, child, grandparent, cousin, or uncle. It doesn’t matter if you’re too old or too young. It doesn’t matter if you made lots of mistakes in the past or if you did everything right all the time.
PRIDE is the root of most problems in relationships.
The Bible teaches us over and over to be humble and to place others above ourselves. One of my favorite passages on humility is Philippians chapter 2.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”
In this chapter, we are reminded that our Messiah placed His love for the Father and for Us above Himself. We are reminded that the God of the Universe loved us so much He asked His Son to die for us, and His Son humbly suffered and died for us. If we can learn to always remember that great act, then we are less likely to let our own pride keep us from loving others as Christ loved us.
You may be asking how does pride apply to a rebellious adult child? Let me give some examples of what pride can do in a relationship.
- Pride is thinking that somehow it is our fault that someone else is sinning. When this happens pride turns into guilt. Guilt produces anger, regret, and shame.
- Pride is thinking that someone else should know better because we taught them better. This pride turns into anger, indifference, and self-righteousness.
- Pride is thinking God needs us to do His work or solve someone else’s problems. This kind of pride turns into a busy-body, a nag, or a control freak.
There are many other forms of pride, but I think you get the point. When we let ourselves become prideful, we operate outside of the will of God. We take things into our own hands at times. We let guilt and anger be our motivator. Pride gets in the way of us being able to communicate love and truth to others.
The first thing we must do in any relationship is put our pride aside. When doing this with our adult children this can be tricky. We want our children to be successful and we want them to be our friends. We love our children in a way that we want the best for them even when they are being stupid and foolish. We want them to be safe and happy. We would do just about anything for our children. So, when they are hurting physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually we want to come to the rescue. But what is the right response to a child who is living in sin and needs help?
I have been pondering this for a few weeks. I think we must be like our Heavenly Father. We must expect respect and obedience. We must expect repentance. We must love our children and pray for them to walk in Truth. When God’s people have disobeyed and forgot His Name (forget who God truly is, disrespected Him), God had to allow the pain and suffering. God can not tolerate sin, but because He loves His children, His creation, He desires that they come back to Him. He didn’t and He still doesn’t bless those who are disobedient in order to get them to come back to Him. No, He leaves them in their sin and lets them learn that sin leads to suffering and death. His hope is that the suffering will cause them to see that walking in His Truths, His Ways will bring blessings, joy, and peace. His hope is that the pain will lead them to Him. If we want to be good parents, we need to learn from Our Heavenly Father how to parent in true love.
Love is Not ignoring our children. Love is NOT spiteful, or vindictive. Love is always hopeful, always praying, always caring. But love does not condone sin, love does not reject the truth. Love does NOT tolerate disrespect or disobedience.
No matter how old our children are, no matter how independent our children are there is no room for disrespect. If your child is openly rude, disrespectful of you, your rules, your way of life, then you should not bless them. It is that simple. True love desires that our children have an eternal relationship with God, this should always be what motivates us in how we care for our children. Giving gifts, blessings, and good things to a rebellious, ungrateful, disrespectful child will not turn them to Christ. It will just reinforce the idea they have that God loves and accepts them just the way they are.
This is a false teaching in the church today. God loves all of us and He desires that we seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He loves every person He created, but He can not and will not tolerate sin. He can not and will not accept anyone into His Kingdom that is not repetitive. Repentance is turning away from our wicked and evil ways and turning to His Ways. Repentance is turning from wrong and walking in Righteousness!
So parents, don’t be discouraged. God loves your child even more than you do. Trust Him with your child. Place your child in the palm of His hand, and wait expectantly for Him to take hold of your child and bring them back to Himself. Love your child, speak truth to your child, encourage your child to return to righteousness. But do NOT tolerate sin in your home, do not tolerate disrespect in your home, and do not let pride get in the way of doing what is right.
I pray that the peace of God reigns in your hearts and homes.