Parenting & The Prodigal Son

I’m chewing on the story Jesus told of the prodigal son from Luke 15. The more I chew on this story the less conclusions I’m able to draw. Who’s the central figure in this story? I would have said the prodigal son, of course, because it’s a story of how he asked for his inheritance (wishing his father dead) and left to live the life he desired. I think the ages of 19 and 20 are the hardest on us parents? It’s the age our kids think they are independent but they’re still dependent on us. They’re almost there, but not there yet. They think they’re wise but we older adults can see their foolishness. That was the prodigal son. He wanted life his way. He wanted it all and he didn’t care who he hurt in the process. I think he was probably 19! What a father this son had! If my kids asked me for their inheritance right now I’d laugh at them! I’m still here! I’m not dead yet! I need what I have to live on today, to make ends meet and keep on living. It’s not time for them to have their inheritance.

Maybe this father saw plainly the wild hair that was growing up in his child’s heart and mind? Maybe he thought it best to bless his leaving than to resent it and create a wall? Maybe he knew many hard lessons were on the horizon for his son but he thought giving him his inheritance could lead to less suffering from the lifestyle the son was headed towards? I don’t know what the thoughts of this father were but I know he gave the boy his inheritance and the boy left; he squandered all he had and became the lowest kind of slave.

I’m sure the father was crushed in spirit when his son left. They didn’t have phones and social media back then! I’m certain this father’s prayer life elevated! Not knowing if my son is ok is an excruciating feeling. We love our children and want the best for them. Sometimes it’s hard for them to see we really have their best interest at heart. Sometimes our kids refuse our parenting. None of us are perfect parents. Parents make mistakes. One thing we know is the father in this story was a good one. He treated his servants well. He went WAY out on a limb and gave his son what he asked for. We know sometimes our kids have to learn the hard way. Maybe this father knew exactly what would happen and longed for the day when his son would venture back home?

In 2020 a previous foster returned to our home at the age of 20. Relationships with adoptive parents were broken and severed. Hard lessons were learned as my previous foster left for young love and learned living with someone isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Homelessness is a strong teacher. This one is very sweet but wants parenting from no one, no guidance or advice. We welcomed this one back with open arms and I’ve asked questions of growth and learning. There is still great hesitation about my leadership. I don’t’ know why but I speculate it stems from childhood experiences where adults weren’t trustworthy. I have their best interest at heart. I would never seek to harm them. Because my leadership hasn’t been followed, some challenges that can even be called consequences have come. When I caution my kids against something I have a reason reason. When cautions aren’t heeded it’s risky. The risk was taken and sure enough, what I said could happen, happened. $1000 later I think they know why I said what I said. No, I didn’t relish in the moment and say, “I told you so.” I held my tongue. This foster has moved out. They have a license, a vehicle, and a job that will pay the bills that they’ve been faithful at for about 5 months. There’s an amount of savings that will help sustain a little when unexpected things arise and even a roommate who will move in soon to share the bills.

Two of my adopted children have left like the prodigal son did. They were the ages of 18 and 19. They wanted to live in their own way, in ways I do not allow in my home. Both have returned back to our family and are bearing consequences. They both have the capacity to be very successful people. We cannot live at peace with one foot in the world and another trying to stand on Jesus. It’s so ironic how when we totally surrender to live in God’s ways what we thought we wanted from the world isn’t what we want at all. God give us new glasses and we see the world in a whole new light. This is my prayer for my kids and all I minister to. Surrender brings healing, peace, and all the fruits of the Spirit into our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I need ALL of these to be a good parent, a good pastor and a good follower of Jesus.

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrant

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