Hope for the Struggling Parent

Parenting is hard work! I always thought once my children became adults, I wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore. I was so wrong! If you are like me, you made it a priority to instill godly values in your children with the idea that they would carry these values into adulthood. What should parents do when they see evidence that their children have walked away from their faith? Many believe they failed as a parent. One day while I was praying for my children, the Lord brought me to Jeremiah 3. I read it in amazement as God spoke directly to the situation about which I was praying.

We live in a permissive culture where “anything goes,” which works in direct opposition to our mission as parents to instill godly values in our children. Teenagers and young adults today engage in activities that are evil in God’s sight, but perfectly acceptable by society. Because this behavior is considered the norm, our children are not ashamed. All through Scripture we see the wayward heart being compared to an unfaithful prostitute:

That’s why even the spring rains have failed. For you are a brazen prostitute and completely shameless. Yet you say to me, ‘Father, you have been my guide since my youth. Surely you won’t be angry forever! Surely you can forget about it!’ So you talk, but you keep on doing all the evil you can (Jeremiah 3:3-5).

It blows my mind how God is always ready to pardon sin when there is repentance:

O Israel, my faithless people, come home to me again, for I am merciful. I will not be angry with you forever. Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled against the Lord your God and committed adultery against him by worshiping idols under every green tree. Confess that you refused to listen to my voice. I, the Lord, have spoken! “Return home, you wayward children,” says the Lord, “for I am your master. I will bring you back to the land of Israel—one from this town and two from that family—from wherever you are scattered. And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will guide you with knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:12-15).

I think of times in my own life when my faith became weak as I allowed the world’s influence to creep in. During those times, I felt so far away from Him with a wall of shame standing between us. It felt as if that wall would take so much effort to break through, but that was not the case. I am amazed at how one decision, one prayer, one choice to turn away from sin in humility and honesty results in the immediate sense of grace and mercy washing over my soul. It warms my heart to think about how gentle God is with each of us as he lovingly deals with a wayward heart coming back to Him. He is the perfect Father welcoming the prodigal son with open arms. Forgiveness…what a beautiful thing!

I want to encourage the weary parent who is frustrated with the choices of the wayward child. Resist the temptation to lecture, to yell, or to worry. It is exhausting to try to change the behaviors of our children in our own strength, and the older our children get, the more difficult it becomes.  Instead, I encourage you to fast and pray for that child, trusting that you have laid a solid foundation and that God who sees all patiently waits for the wayward soul to return to Him: “My wayward children,” says the Lord, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts” (Jeremiah 3:22).

As Max Lucado wrote in his book Dad Time, “The highest privilege and purpose you have as a parent is to lead your child in the way of Christ.” I agree wholeheartedly. By leading our children in the way of Christ, we equip them with the ultimate Guide who will always be with them when we can’t. He will never leave them or forsake them. When life gets overwhelming and our children find themselves grasping for stability in a constantly changing world, they will remember the One who does not change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever, and the stability that He brings to our lives prevents us from being carried away by varied and strange teachings (Hebrews 13:8-9). There is peace in knowing our children can draw near to the throne of grace in confidence. God will not stay angry over their sins, and our children will receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

I have many opportunities to fail as a parent, but I am confident in this: as long as I point my children to the ultimate Father and Guide, even if their hearts drift far from him for a time, they will remember Him. And when they turn their wayward hearts to Him, He will graciously receive them, and they will be greatly blessed.

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Written By: Jaylin Palacio

Jaylin Palacio is the author of He Will Never Leave You, a story about marital infidelity and the healing power of forgiveness. You can get your copy here.  at She also has an email subscriber group for betrayed spouses.  You can sign up here.  You can check out her blog here.