From the moment they are born they are destined to push the envelope of every boundary they encounter. They have siblings raised by the same parents who make good decisions, yet they insist on touching the proverbial hot stove every chance they get.
I was a prodigal child. I was head strong and determined to make my own way in this world. While it serves me well now, as a teenager… well, let’s just say I was a handful for my parents.
I believe that God has a great sense of irony as I now have a prodigal child. I watch her decisions and thought processes with the realization that I’m seeing myself at her age. I know that I will not be successful in forcing her to change. Rather I love her unconditionally. I hold her accountable with words of truth and consistent boundaries. I pray, and pray, and pray some more.
I feel a special kinship with her. Whether she realizes it or not, I understand her better than she knows herself. I admire her tenacity, work ethic, and compassion for others. I smile knowing that those qualities will take her a long way in this life. I see a maturity in her that I know I never had at her age. Her willingness to admit when she’s wrong (eventually) and the way she honors my wisdom (even if she doesn’t seem to accept it when given) are two examples.
The prodigal is not easy to parent. They often make dangerous decisions without regard to life consequences. It can be quite the task just to keep them safe. My prodigal jumped out a three-story window because I wouldn’t let her leave the house after curfew. The subsequent hospital visit was humiliating (“you did what?”) and with both ankles severely sprained, she spent the next two weeks confined to the house crawling on her hands and knees. I’m pretty sure she won’t be jumping out of any windows any time soon.
It is important for the prodigal to be hit in the face with their consequences. Having the wisdom to know when and how much to allow is the daily struggle that I take to the Lord on my knees.
Perspective is a powerful filter – instead of stubbornness, we can choose to see determination; instead of defiance, we can choose to see their ability to stand by their convictions; instead of thinking they are stupid (aka hot stove), we can choose to see that they test and learn for themselves instead of accepting status quo.
I love my prodigal child. I believe that she will make a difference in this world… just as soon as she stops jumping out of windows.