Advice to Parents of Wayward Older Children


It’s true that parents carry a great deal of responsibility in regards to their children’s upbringing.

  • Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
  • Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.
  • Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.


But parents are not the only ones with responsibility. Each person (including our children) must decide what to do with the training we’ve received. Quit taking full responsibility.

  • Deuteronomy 24:16 Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to
  • death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.
  • Luke 15:11 And He said, “A man had two sons.”

Note: First, parents of adult children must quit taking full responsibility for the child's behavior. The child made the choices, and he has to suffer the consequences of his behavior. The righteous father of Luke 15 had two sons that we can assume were raised in a similar manner. Only one openly rebelled. This demonstrates that each child is an individual who can choose to follow their parents’ teaching or not. I've known many preachers’ sons who were wayward children. Was the preacher to blame? In each case there were several children in the family. Only one was a problem. All the children were raised with the same values. Only one chose to ignore them. Don’t be so arrogant as to think you alone of all human parents can raise perfect children. Even God the perfect Father has wayward children. Can you do better than Yahweh?


After all, there are numerous biblical examples of good parents who have had wicked children.

  • 2 Kings 15:32-34, 38 In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah became king. 33He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Jerusha the daughter of Zadok. 34He did what was right in the sight of the LORD; he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done… 38And Jotham slept with his fathers, and he was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father; and Ahaz his son became king in his place.
  • 2 Kings 16:1-4 In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, became king. 2Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done. 3But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had driven out from before the sons of Israel. 4He sacrificed and burned incense on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.

Note: As we see in these two passages, a good and righteous king who (in later verses) made some mistakes ends up having a wicked son. But for every good parent who has a bad child we also see many bad parents who have good kids. This shows us that parents do bear some responsibility – but not all.


Some people are confused by Proverbs 22:6, thinking that because they raised their children well, their children should never rebel. However, we need to look at that verse a little more carefully.

  • Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Note: It doesn’t say they’ll never reject it. It says “even when he is old”, that is “at the point that they reach maturity” he will not depart. Each of us has rebelled to certain things at certain times. Each of us matures at different speeds. The Bible is not so naïve as to say that we are just robots that respond to input the same way every time. The Bible gives room for individuality, for free will. The Teacher is simply acknowledging the well-known psychological principle that we tend to fall back on the lessons that we learned as children. We may temporarily stray as we try new approaches, but a child who is raised well will TEND to come back to those ways.


Try not to take their rejection personally. You are collateral damage – a casualty of war. It’s usually more about them trying to make their own minds up concerning obeying God’s commands than it is about rejecting your ways.

  • 1 Samuel 8:7-9 The LORD said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. 8"Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day--in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods--so they are doing to you also. 9"Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them."
  • Ephesians 4:17-19 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
  • Romans 1:18-22 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves. 19For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. 20From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. 21Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. 22Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools instead.

Note: Sometimes our children reject the Way in order to pursue other gods: materialism, popularity, power, sensuality. And as far as you stand for truth and God’s Word, you will also be rejected. But it is not primarily about you. You just happen to be in the way in this battle for their soul. Deep in their hearts they know what is right but like the people described in Romans 1 their sinful desires are causing them to suppress the truth. This causes a tremendous amount of tension and pressure. Sometimes it is released in the presence of those we love most because we feel safest with them. We can get away with it. That’s why people will often say things – both kind and cruel - to their loved ones that they would never dream of saying to a stranger.


Samuel warned the people of Israel of the consequences (vv10-18) of rejecting God as their king.

  • 1 Samuel 8:10-18 So Samuel spoke all the words of the LORD to the people who had asked of him a king. 11He said, "This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. 12"He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13"He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14"He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. 15"He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. 16"He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. 17"He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. 18"Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."


However, when they stubbornly refused to listen, God told Samuel to let them go their way.

  • 1 Samuel 8:19-22 Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, "No, but there shall be a king over us, 20that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles." 21Now after Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the LORD'S hearing. 22The LORD said to Samuel, "Listen to their voice and appoint them a king." So Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Go every man to his city."


As to whether or not you should participate in weddings of children choosing wrong mates, Samuel participated in the ceremonies and rituals associated with the kingship.

  • 1 Samuel 10:1 Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, "Has not the LORD anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?
  • 1 Samuel 10:24-25 Samuel said to all the people, "Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people "So all the people shouted and said, "Long live the king!" 25Then Samuel told the people the ordinances of the kingdom, and wrote them in the book and placed it before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house.


There is only one issue that I have found for which we are to separate ourselves from our family – that is over Christ. If they are asking you, through whatever activity, to reject the Lord, then the Lord must come first.

  • Exodus 32:26-29 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, "Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!" And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. 27He said to them, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.'" 28So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. 29Then Moses said, "Dedicate yourselves today to the LORD--for every man has been against his son and against his brother--in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today."
  • Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

Note: This does not mean that you have to put your blessing on or render aid to a given activity like a marriage. You can attend in order to show your love for the wayward child, but do not help any activity that would be bad for that child or their relationship with God. Make it clear that it is their sin and not themselves that you reject. For instance: a person who enjoys dancing had a homosexual instructor and asked where to draw the line. How could this person show love for him without condoning his sin? My advice was to be friendly and loving towards him. If he is dancing in some general presentation, then attend and support his art. But if he is dancing in something that is in support of homosexuality (like a fund-raiser or an all-gay presentation), then do not attend.


Understand that they don’t necessarily want to be protected. Adults have a lot more freedom than children, but adults understand, often through bitter experience, that with freedom come responsibilities and repercussions. Younger children are protected from some repercussions by their parents, but our older children cannot always be, nor do they necessarily want to be, protected.

  • Luke 15:12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them.

Note: This was not some young teenager. This was an adult who was able to travel alone and rent housing. He was old enough to know better, to know some of the consequences but chose to think he was different. These things wouldn’t happen to him.

  • 1 Samuel 8:19-22 Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, "No, but there shall be a king over us, 20that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles."

Note: This was an entire nation who voted in a democratic process. Democracy doesn’t always work. In fact, if you review the history of groups or crowds in the Bible you will find an ugly story. Crowds almost always descend to the lowest common denominator. Your child may be arguing “everyone else does.” This is not a valid argument. On the other hand, you cannot use that as an argument either. Just because he is choosing to go against what society dictates does not necessarily mean it’s wrong. Martin Luther King Jr. went against society too – but he was righteous. The only truly valid argument is “This is right and the Scriptures say so here.”


Avoid open confrontation as much as possible.

  • Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
  • Ephesians 4:2-3 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
  • Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Note: It doesn’t say “be at peace.” It says “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace.” Big difference. There will be a time and a place for open confrontation. But you need to make those times occur as far apart as possible. This is part of choosing your battlefield and your timing. Be patient. Confrontation with an adult child almost never works. It only gives them an opportunity to test their will and strength. Even though it might not necessarily always work, discussion about behavior will always work better.


Talk about behavior in general terms. Ascribe, when possible, good motives to their behavior. Though they mean well, they are choosing badly.

  • Acts 17:22-23 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23"For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD ' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.

Note: When discussing behavior talk about behavior in general, not their behavior in particular, this way they can be objective and not feel the need to protect their position. Try to think like they do – enter into their minds and argue your position using their language. Try to make appeals that actually appeal to them. Don’t use arguments that only appeal to you. For instance – in debating Christ with Mormons I use the Book of Mormon or Pearl of Great Price too. I show that I’m willing to consider their point of view, but then reveal the weaknesses of their foundation. In trying to influence a materialistic person, I try to demonstrate how the Bible’s financial principles, if followed, can successfully lead a person to wealth. If talking to a weak, fearful person, I lead them to verses that show how God is our fortress.


Be prepared for argument. They will question every point you make; remember, they don't have the years of experience you have accumulated to find this wisdom, what you know may not match what they have learnt.

  • Ezekiel 3:4-9 Then He said to me, "Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them. 5"For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or difficult language, but to the house of Israel, 6nor to many peoples of unintelligible speech or difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. But I have sent you to them who should listen to you; 7yet the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, since they are not willing to listen to Me. Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate. 8"Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. 9"Like emery harder than flint I have made your forehead. Do not be afraid of them or be dismayed before them, though they are a rebellious house."

Note: Don’t be shocked and disappointed when it happens. You are dealing with the inherent human, sinful nature. It’s like being surprised when a dog barks or a frog jumps. It’s natural. It’s not necessarily pleasant but it’s just the nature of an unregenerate or rebellious person. Your job, like Ezekiel’s is not to fix them or change them. Your job is simply to tell them the truth. Notice that this takes a great deal of strength of character. It takes a lot of stubbornness (or, more positively, patience). Ezekiel had to have a hard head to deal with that generation. Be stronger than the rebellious child. Be more stubborn than they are. You are, after all, standing on the moral high ground. That in itself should grant you great moral strength.


Teach them to think critically. Do not just impart wisdom. Ask questions that lead them to wisdom. This was a technique used very successfully by the Master.

  • Matthew 16:13-17 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." 15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
  • John 10:31-36 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" 33The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God." 34Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I SAID, YOU ARE GODS'? 35"If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?
  • Matthew 21:23-27 When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?" 24Jesus said to them, "I will also ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25"The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?" And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Then why did you not believe him?' 26"But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the people; for they all regard John as a prophet." 27And answering Jesus, they said, "We do not know." He also said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.


Don't get hung up on unimportant things.

  • 1 Corinthians 9:26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
  • Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Note: Be selective in what you choose to do battle over. Don’t hit air – aim well at targets carefully chosen. Lay aside those things that will encumber your efforts. Make a list of all the things that bother you. Then rank them. Go after the top priority items and drop the bottom half of the list. Resolve not to bring up any of those issues. Keep in mind harm. When dealing with a behavior think about how important the issue is. Is it really an important enough of an issue to get into an argument? Who is it harming? It might be embarrassing, but is it really harmful? If on the other hand the child’s behavior is dangerous, either to themselves or others, then it is necessary to take some sort of action, but not necessarily confrontation.


Patience and forgiveness, though difficult at times, is vital.

  • 1 Corinthians 4:10-16 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. 11To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; 12and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now. 14I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.

Note: Parents need to be firm but fair. The key is to treat them as adults but protect them as well, and be there when they come home. Sometimes the parent needs to explain that they (parent) wouldn't ordinarily accept the behavior from an adult but because of your love for them you are willing to overlook it this time. But if the behavior persists then you treat them like they would treat another adult. If this means that you wouldn't talk to an adult that talked to you that way then when the child talks to you in their tone then you walk away or ask them to.


Don’t yell.

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, 11 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered…11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

Note: One of you needs to be the adult. Someone in this situation needs to be the calm mature voice of reason. It might as well be you. Subtle lessons like these take time to work but they do work. Yelling and pleading with them doesn't because it only teaches how to get someone to yell.


Talk as to an adult. Realize that the mechanisms used in the past no longer work. Conflict can often occur simply because the parent is slow to realize he is talking to a young adult, not a large child.

  • Ecclesiastes 3:1-5 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven-- 2A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. 3A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. 5A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. 6A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. 8A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.

Note: What kind of time is it for that rebellious child? If they are adults, then quit talking to them as if they were children. That means that if you would not put up with abusive language from another adult, then don’t put up with it from them. That means if you would take the time to listen to another adults full argument, then take the time to listen to them. Treat them like you would another adult.

  • 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.

Note: Do not waste time speaking inappropriately. Don’t just blurt out what comes first to your mind. Don’t keep using strategies that have not worked in the past. Choose the strategy that will work.


Don’t simply “wait it out.”

  • Romans 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy - abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:6 (Love) does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

Note: True love is active. It involves constantly encouraging those things that make for righteousness and constantly trying to prune out those things which are evil. The worst advice you can give the parent of a wayward child is “He’ll grow out of it.” You might think that would be the most comforting thing you could say. But the problem with that attitude is that while you are waiting for him to grow out of it, you are doing nothing to change the situation. You are waiting for him, who is wrong, to realize that you and your values are right.


Try to nip bad behavior in the bud.

  • Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your children while there is hope. If you don’t, you will ruin their lives.

Note: Parents should be aware of early warning signs and take them seriously. Early professional intervention can alter behavior. The longer the behavior is permitted, the less likely change will occur.


You need to be in constant communication. Don't widen the gap and make it more difficult for them to return.

  • Genesis 3:8 Toward evening they heard the LORD God walking about in the garden, so they hid themselves among the trees. 9The LORD God called to Adam, "Where are you?"

Note: God knew exactly where they were physically, geographically. He was asking where they were in relation to Him. Even though He knew they had sinned, He still came and made Himself available to them. I am convinced that if they had confessed their sins and repented of them, Yahweh would have forgiven them. Why am I convinced of that? Because that is what He has done ever since.

  • Romans 5:6-8 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Note: When we were God’s wayward children He came looking for us. He made Himself available to us. He sacrificially died for us. He did not wait until we were in right standing with Him.

  • Luke 15:20 So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Note: The righteous father ran to the prodigal when the prodigal was still a long way off. His response to the little progress his rebellious child made was overwhelming. He did not merely meet him halfway. He looked for that little bit of progress and made the most of it.


Say “I love you” a lot. You need to tell him that, although you disapprove of the choices he has made, you still love him.

  • Luke 15:21-22 "And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22"But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;

Note: There was not a long, protracted preaching session that included several “I told you so”

statements. There was simple celebration over a right decision. That’s part of the “cling to good,

abhor the evil” philosophy of love.

  • Matthew 23:37 (Luke 13:34) "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

Note: The Master expressed His love and longing to His rebellious children even as He recognized that they would continue in their rebellion.


Let him deal with consequences.

  • 2 Samuel 12:13-14 Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD " And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. 14"However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."
  • Luke 15:31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.”
  • John 8:11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either Go From now on sin no more."

Note: In this case, David confessed his sin and (as history would reveal) was truly repentant.

However, he still had to deal with the consequences of his sin. The younger prodigal son was forgiven and brought back into a loving relationship with his father, but he still had lost his inheritance and whatever was left belonged to his older brother. He also still had to win his brother’s love. Not everyone is a quick to forgive and when we sin, we have to deal with that.

The adulterous woman was forgiven of her sin and was relieved of the worst of the consequences (death). Nevertheless, she was still publicly humiliated, told by Jesus that what she did was sinful, would have to deal with the whispers of her neighbors and the anger of her husband. When he comes to you to bail him out of his problems, you need to lovingly tell him that the problem he is dealing with is the consequence of the choices he has made. Make him deal with it. Show him how to make good decisions. Steer him toward the solutions but don't "fund" his behavior. Don’t be an “enabler”.


Find out who else is influencing him.

  • Matthew 7:15-20 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16"You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17"So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18"A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19"Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20"So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Note: One explanation for the difference in kids all raised in the same family with the same rules

could be the role of the "non-shared environment." It is who influences their behavior outside the

home setting. Who are your children's role models? Every child has one. Is the child influenced by a favorite teacher or by a violent, out of control super athlete? Do you know who your child's friends are? How well do you know them? Just because a person claims to be a Christian does not make it so. Just because a person wears a clerical collar or is called pastor doesn’t make them godly. Just because a person defines themselves as your friend doesn’t mean they are actually putting your needs ahead of their own. This important for you to identify so you know who the “players” on the field are. This is also important to point out to the wayward child. They will want to identify with and listen to others. They need to know how to identify friends and foes. The Bible says that the way to do that is to look at their “fruit”. Do you truly want to take marriage advice from someone whose marriages have failed repeatedly? Do you want to take financial advice from someone who is bankrupt?


Plan for the future.

  • Proverbs 11:23 The godly can look forward to happiness, while the wicked can expect only wrath.
  • Proverbs 23:17-18 Don’t envy sinners, but always continue to fear the LORD. 18For surely you have a future ahead of you; your hope will not be disappointed.
  • Proverbs 24:13-14 My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste. 14In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short.

Note: First, they need to see that your way produces happiness and hope. If your way only produces bitterness and arguments, why should they want to listen to you? Second, in their rebellion against your chosen way they are expecting only wrath. It is surprising to still be loved when you are rejecting someone. It throws them off. It keeps them off balance and paying attention. Another passage puts it “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

(Romans 12:21) Third, young people need worthy goals. Help your child develop a plan. Do this especially when they are in disagreement with you because it helps them realize that you still love them and have hope for your relationship and their future.


Be quick to accept them back when they have truly repented.

  • 2 Corinthians 2:6-8 Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, 7so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

Note: In 1 Corinthians Paul rebuked them for not disciplining their immoral brother. Now apparently the man had repented and changed his ways but the Corinthian church was slow to take him back. Both of these approaches are wrong. Do not be slow in dealing with sin but be quick to forgive when repentance is shown. In that way we are demonstrating God’s love to others.


Keep your hope up.

  • 1 Corinthians 13:7-8a, 13 (Love) bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails…13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Note: Have faith. Your best hope for the future is the old saying that the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. If he is a young man, there is still plenty of time for him to realize the error of his ways and return to the principles you have taught him. It is natural for children to try to do things their way. Children, especially young adults, want to assert their independence. They will find out the value of the principles you have taught them and return to them, one by one.