Parents across the country are faced every day with the challenge of older children who are living out choices that are far different from what the parents desired for them. The children don't want to change, and are determined to continue along their chosen path.
Some may not understand the need for my encouragement to continue loving their offspring regardless of their actions, thinking it impossible to do anything else. But for others who are dealing with a rebellious and hateful older child, they know exactly what I am talking about. It's all you can do to keep from ringing your child's neck!
Suppose you learn your child is having an affair, or has been convicted of a crime? What about a child caught in a same-sex relationship, or a daughter who is pregnant out of wedlock. Maybe it is a child who is using drugs, or whose choices always seem to be the opposite of what you hoped for.
To embrace them in the midst of their disrespect, anger and rebellion can be difficult, yet to write off or shun the relationship as a result is a violation of what God would desire from parents. We still need to show them God's love every day.
God calls us to love our offspring in the midst of their sin, so we can be there to offer guidance and speak the truth to them when they do come around to better thinking. That way, should they long for something different in their life, there is a path back to Him, an open door that offers a place of rest when they are ready.
I know what Scripture says about sin. And I know what lifestyle choices are counter to God's plan. But I believe it is also a sin for us to turn our backs on a wayward child because of their sin. God has called us to be a part of our children's adult lives, not to be their judge and jury, but to offer a relationship that would offer a glimpse of something that can ultimately only be found in God. We don't have to like them in their sinful state, as much as we need to love them.
You may ask, "Where is the hope?" The hope is found in God, "being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). God has not finished with your child, no matter how old he or she is! He will continue the work He started and He'll often work through us parents. The challenge is to make sure we don't get in His way.
Be a parent to children for as long as they are under your care. Set boundaries and enforce consequences. Be sure you know what you believe, and teach it to them when they are younger. But should they make poor choices as they get older, don't reject them. And don't allow their bad choices make you feel as though they have rejected you as well. Keep in touch and love them regardless, for God has placed them in your life, for the rest of your life, for a reason.
About The Author: Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, national radio host, and the founder of Heartlight, a residential counseling opportunity for struggling adolescents, which is located in East Texas. Learn more about Heartlight at www.heartlightministries.org.