The parable of the "prodigal son" in Luke 15:11-32 has been a favorite of many throughout the years, and it is no wonder. It speaks of hope when a person goes astray.
The son was like many young people throughout the ages. He had to learn the hard way. In this case he came to himself when "reality hit."
The parable doesn't mention how strong the bonds were between the young man and his father before he decided to leave.
If the bonds were strong, then it would have made it easier for the son to come back and confess that he was wrong. He would not have feared that his father would condemn him or humiliate him. He would have known that his father would not hold it against him for years to come or rub his nose in it.
What if his father had been harsh and condemning? It would have been much harder for him to come back, knowing that he would be facing a lecture about how the father had told him so.
As parents we like to think that it could never happen to us, that our kids could never go astray. Somehow life doesn't always work that way.
What we need to do before that possibility arises is to build the bonds of love with our young children. They need to know that we love them no matter what. They must know that we will always be there for them. They must know that they can always come to us and that we will receive them with open arms.
As many parents of prodigals will testify, the bonds of love can be even stronger when a young person realizes that he made some mistakes and wants to turn his life around. It can be very rewarding and joyful on both sides when a young person does change. Both can learn from each other and the benefits can be carried down to the grandchildren.