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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 Luke 15:16-19 [16] And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave to him. [17] And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! [18] I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you, [19] And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants.
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).

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 Matthew 5:14-16 [14] You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
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and 1 Peter 3:1-2 1 Peter 3:1-2 [1] Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; [2] While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
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). 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 Luke 15:20And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
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). 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 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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) 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 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
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). 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 Acts 2:39For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
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; 1 Corinthians 7:14 1 Corinthians 7:14For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
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). 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 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
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).

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