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How Do You Help Your Adult Child When They've Left God Behind?

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How Do You Help Your Adult Child When They've Left God Behind?

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This world is out of control. School shootings and violence occur practically every week. Terror attacks in the West are increasing at an alarming rate. More and more of your friends and relatives are dying from preventable diseases.

And to make matters worse, your grown child is going through a personal crisis. It may be an identity crisis, a relationship crisis, or trouble with the law. Whatever the situation, you believe it’s because they’ve left God and left the faith in which you raised them. How can you help your son or daughter? Let’s consider some tangible ways.

1. Step back and look at the bigger picture

Sometimes our adult child may have to get into a very uncomfortable situation, even a crisis, in order to value what he or she has left behind and in order to learn that without their heavenly Father, they cannot make it in this world. This was true of the wayward son in one of Jesus’ parables. In the depths of despair, left with nothing to eat but scraps reserved for the pigs (symbolic of sin and degradation), he looked back with newfound appreciation of the good food and other blessings his father had given him back home (Luke 15:16-19).

2. Focus on setting an exemplary example

Who can fathom the power of personal example? It’s much more potent than words (read Matthew 5:14-16 and 1 Peter 3:1-2). Preaching at our adult child, or saying, “I told you so,” will likely widen the distance between us and them, and thus the distance between them and God. But when they start genuinely asking why, and seeking answers, now is the time to invite them to renew an acquaintance with God and His Word.

3. Be there for your son or daughter

The father of the prodigal son didn’t give up on him. He was ready, while his son was “still a great way off,” to welcome him back with open arms (Luke 15:20). Likewise being there for your adult son or daughter, and having a listening ear, builds trust.

Think back to your own calling and process of conversion. Maybe there were times when you hit rock bottom. Did God give up on you? Remember that He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9) and eventually everlasting life in His family.

4. Let go and let God

When our children were toddlers, we understandably shielded them from every imaginable danger. As they grew, we gradually had to let go enough for them to learn to ride a bike, cross the street, and, then as a teenager, drive a car, get their first job, and so on. There may have been bumps and bruises, perhaps even a traffic ticket or two. God does the same with us and with our children. He protects us, but He lets go enough for us to learn and to grow in character (2 Peter 3:18). Also remember that since you are one of God’s children, your own children are set apart for a relationship with Him too (Acts 2:39; 1 Corinthians 7:14). If they haven’t already committed to God and His way, be patient and wait for them to respond to His working in their lives.

Take comfort in knowing that in an out-of-control world, a world where we have little control over the actions of our grown children, God is in ultimate control. Remember that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).