How Did a Good Christian Parent Like Me End Up with a Wayward Child?


Is there anything that bothers parents more than watching a child go astray?

Why can’t real life be like an episode of Little House on the Prairie, where in the span of an hour all the problems are fixed and everyone gets along again?

I think having a wayward child is especially hard on Christian families because it seems like it should happen to those people who don’t attend church regularly, read the Bible, or pray.

In reality, that’s simply not the case.

Faith isn’t a magic cure. It doesn’t protect against something bad or difficult happening–though wouldn’t that be great.

It does, however, give us the strength to persevere during those times.

Especially during adolescence, young men and women are discovering who they are: they try new things; they might change their style of dress or their hair; and sometimes they begin to question long-held beliefs.

It’s easy for life to become a battle ground as the parent struggles to hold onto that little child who looked up to them, while the teenager wants time and space to find herself.

And let me tell you, there are days the desire to win is extremely great.

In the span of a year, it seems like everything has changed. One of our girls had the same group of friends for almost a decade, enjoyed attending church and Sunday school, and listened to somewhat annoying but, fairly harmless, pop music. Suddenly, most of the old friends have been left behind, she’s questioning the existence of God and argues over attending church, and has turned to music known as “screamo.”  I feel like I’ve been dropped in the land of Oz right alongside Dorothy and Toto.

While I am upset about it, the important thing I keep telling myself is that this is not about me or her father. It’s about her making a choice over who she is going to be.

Could I see this as a failure on my part? Maybe. Here’s why not.

God’s in control of this situation, not me. Her saying God doesn’t exist doesn’t make Him any less real. It doesn’t change how much He loves her and how much He will do everything to keep her close to Him. There is nowhere she can go that God won’t be there for her.

I also take to heart the words of Dr. James Dobson, who in his book, Parenting Isn’t for Cowards, cited a study that indicated 85% of strong-willed kids will “eventually lean toward their parents’ point of view by the time adolescence is over.”

I guess that means I’ll keep praying she is in that 85%. Or maybe I should be praying I survive her adolescence. :)


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How Did a Good Christian Parent Like Me End Up with a Wayward Child? — 6 Comments

  1. Been there, done that, Cheryl. It’s never easy to let our children make their own mistakes, but it really is in their best interest. They learn the hard lessons quicker because they learned them themselves without our intervention. The consequences can hurt, but will never be forgotten. God is so, so faithful. I have one of my wayward kids back and she’s stronger in her faith than ever. One is still searching, but is a fabulous person still and we have a close relationship. The other didn’t wander as far as the other two, and is “finding herself” still, but walking with God for the most part. God isn’t finished with them, or any of us yet. Praying for you and your kids.

  2. Pingback: Blogging at Christian Children’s Authors: Wayward Children | The Children's and Teens' Book Connection

  3. Oh, Cheryl – I feel your pain in your writing. I haven’t experienced that exactly, but my son decided to stop attending church when he turned 18. Before then, when he asked, I told him it was my responsibility to raise him up in the faith until he was an adult. His father never attended church and has pretty much no idea who Jesus is. We were very young and I was fascinated by the “other side”. By the time I realized my mistake, I was pregnant and we married. That was almost 40 years ago, my son is 36, and I came scampering back to God at some point after my divorce and a subsequent abusive relationship. I’ve been married to my husband now for 26 years and we have 2 daughters here and a son in heaven.

    Our youngest daughter is passionately following the Lord – she’s 23. Our oldest daughter has severe special needs – she’s 25 – but you know what? She loves Jesus!

    And my son – now 36 – still doesn’t attend church or take his children. But my prayer for him is that the Holy Spirit would remind him of the fellowship of believers and that he would miss the things of God. His in-laws are fervent believers and take my grandchildren to church. Still, he and his wife don’t attend and they were both raised in the faith.

    My father didn’t come to the Lord until over 20 years after my grandfather died – and Grandpa prayed for my dad every day. He never saw his son come to faith, but he will see him walk through the gates of heaven someday! That gives me GREAT hope for my son, too!

    Thanks for sharing your story, Cheryl.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story too, Pam. Our children certainly give us more than a few anxious days. I really can’t imagine going through life if I wasn’t able to believe that God brings every trial to us for a purpose and blesses us all in good measure.

    • That’s what I trust in, too. My current favorite song is Thy Will by Hillary Scott. If you’re not familiar with it, go to YouTube and listen. It’s beautiful and incredibly convicting, in a good way. You can also search there for Christian screamo. Or maybe some Ska. It amazes me that there’s Christian music for every taste out there. :)

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