The Prodigal's Son Does Return!

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 1999

Dear Annette,

Here I am again asking for your advice.  Our 15yr old son had a disagreement with his father this morning because he didn't want to help his dad clean out the garage.  He just said he didn't want to and wasn't going to.  Since we are not giving him lunch money, for a similar situation, when he refused to do anymore yard work, he said he wouldn't do anymore chores because he doesn't get lunch money.  His father said then he wouldn't be allowed to watch TV or use the computer today if he wouldn't be obedient.

Later, when we both went out to the store, he left and only left a note saying he was going to spend the night at a friend's home.  We have called every friend we know of and know one knows where he's at.  We love him so much and are so worried.  We have been praying and praying to know what to do.  Would you have any suggestions for us?

I'm afraid it's going to be a very long night.

Thanks for your time.

A Worried Mother

Dear Worried,

            Congratulations!  You feel just like Heavenly Father and Mother as they watch their children used their free agency to make unwise decisions.  Now sit back, watch, pray always for his change of heart!  So you don't make yourself sick with worry...turn him over to God's keeping.  Ask Him to help your son make good decisions.

            You have set up family rules.  He is rebelling against those rules.  Sooner or later you would have had to throw him out just like Heavenly Father had to toss a third of the host of heaven out for disobedience.

            When a youth does not want to play by the rules it is time for him to make his rules somewhere else.  My son left on a similar note.  He stayed a friends homes all summer until he wore out his welcome and then finally decided that the rules were not too much to ask to have three square meals and a roof over his head.

              Perhaps you should renegotiate the no lunch money rule to the loss of some other privilege.  Most states require parents to provide three meals, lodging, and clothing to minor children.  Things which are a privilege can be used as a reward for good behavior or its loss as consequence for bad behavior.


         going out with friends

         participating in special family activities

         going somewhere special with parent/s - Incentive Activities


         Getting an allowance for doing chores

         Getting money for extra work


         Use of television

         Use of radio/CDs

         Use of the computer for e-mail and games

         Use of telephone

         Use of electricity in their room.

         Use of the use of the car


Remember you love the child not the behavior!

You have taught the gospel to your son. He is of the age that he is exercising his free agency and you cannot take that away from him. When he chooses to live by a different set of rules then he needs to do so else where.

God promises us that if we have raised our children up correctly when they are young, that when they are old, they will return to those same teachings (Proverbs 22:6). How can God promise us that? It is because He is God and He CAN turn them around. He lets them hit rock bottom. Then, in their desperation, He gently reminds them they can turn to Him. It is in their darkest hour that they start the repentance process and call upon Him for help. He will be there to help them up. It is only then that they are ready to listen to Him again.

A professor of mine told me that it was the strong willed attributes that I was fighting in my son, that someday, with a little tweaking, would make him a great man. God know how to do that tweaking! I have seen Him do it and He is the height of finesse.

My son is still not the sweet individual he once was, but every now and then, I see a spark of my son shining beneath the harsh worldly exterior. I see God's hand molding my son a small step at a time back to the sweet spirit he once was.

I know the Lord has a long row to hoe with my child, but I know God is patient and long suffering.


He will bring my son home to Him.

I know he will bring yours home too.

Just as Christ is long suffering and patient, we both need to take a step backwards and breath long and deep the sweet fresh air ... because we know God is there! He will not fail us. We too will have to be patient and long suffering, but in doing so, we learn to become like God.

We have taught our sons the principles of God. We have stood as examples for them to follow. We have done our part! Now stand back and watch God's quiet miracle and majesty ... and know that He is there and that He does keep His promises.

The Prodigal's Son does return!

Hang tight!


Annette Nay, MS


PS   See: Helping Our Children Overcome Bad Behaviors

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage

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