MOMS: How to Reconnect With a Lost Child

Do you have a child who’s walked away from the Lord, or from your family? Have you watched your kids struggle because of the absence of a father in their life, or a dad who’s pushed them too hard?

There is nothing more painful than being estranged or separated from your kids, whether it be from their own actions or from those in your family. We all want to see our children live life to its fullest potential; for moms, this can be especially hard.

My step-dad was in the Navy, so when we were young he was away at sea for long periods of time. When my step-dad was home, he struggled to be present with us. He was often overwhelmed with the pressures of work and providing for his family, and found his escape with alcohol. We knew that he loved us, but without a father in his own life, my step-dad lacked the skills to be the present father we needed.

This left my mother trying to be both the father and the mother for my sisters, my brother, and myself. My mom saw how my step-dad’s behavior hurt us; along with being a single mom for most of the year, it took a great toll on her as well.

My mom did her best. But when she would get stressed out or overwhelmed, she would sometimes “kick us out of the family”. Of course, not literally. But as some children like to push their parents to the very edge of sanity (which we often did), she would reach a breaking point and yell “THAT’S IT! YOU’RE OUT OF THE FAMILY!” Then she’d push us out the front door.

My younger brother and sisters would stand on the doorstep crying, begging to be let back into the family, which of course, was the result my mom desired. But not me. As the oldest child, I knew my mom didn’t really mean it, so when she kicked me out, I’d run around the corner and go to a friend’s house.

Eventually, my mother would come find me as she always did, assuring me that she wasn’t really serious and I was to come home immediately. Of course, I knew that was the truth, and was never worried that she wouldn’t come find me.

I know my mom wasn’t the only one who found herself living like a single parent even though she had a partner. Whether their husband has pushed the kids too hard and they’ve left the home angry, or their husband is present but emotionally absent (like my father was), many moms today find themselves caught in between their husband and their children.

It is heartbreaking for moms to watch their kids struggling. The key for moms is to not try to rescue your children—either from their bad choices or from a parent who is not behaving the way you’d like them to.

It is inevitable that your kids will face storms in life. The best thing you can do for your children is to be a lighthouse in the midst of the storm. You won’t be able to stop the storm, but you can be the beacon of light leading them safely home to harbor.

Later in life, I went through many storms—some of my own making (poor choices), and some as a result of losing my dad before birth and my step-dad to alcohol. Although I was far off, my mom was always a beacon of light for me. Much like the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), my mom was waiting for me to come home.

I want to share with you four things that you can do as a mom to reconnect with a lost child. These are all things my mom did for me, and also things that the father did in the story of the Prodigal Son. This parable shows us how God reconnects with His lost kids (us!) and how we can prepare our hearts to do the same thing with our children.


Tell your kids that you believe in them


I can remember many times when my mom wrote me notes and called me on the phone to remind me that God had great things for me to do. Even though there were times when I didn’t want to hear about God’s plan for my life, those words stayed in my heart.

When the prodigal son asked for his inheritance early and left home, we don’t see the father telling him everything wrong about him, his life, or his choices. He lets him go. Remember, in that day and age, he was basically telling his father, “I wish you were dead so I could have my inheritance.” The father didn’t argue this point; he let him go.

Telling our kids everything they’re doing wrong, rather than speaking life into what they’re doing right only creates a wider divide between us and our children. Here’s what the book of Romans says about kindness and repentance:

…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4b ESV)


Pray out loud every day for your children


We tend to worry out loud every day for our children, and pray in our minds later on, right? There is something powerful that happens when we pray out loud. It helps us to put our trust in God and silence the worry!

Remember, God is the only one who can draw your children home. Worrying about them or blaming others for the situation will not draw them home any sooner.

I’m sure the father on the porch wondered where his prodigal son was, but all we know from the story is that he was expectantly waiting his return. Pray with expectation.


Pursue them as much as they will allow you to


Pursuing your kids when they’re hurting is important. It often feels counterintuitive, because usually as a parent, you’re hurt too. It helps to remember how God the Father pursued us when we were still sinners and in darkness, far away from Him.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)

Remember, don’t try to rescue your kids from the storm or hover over them—just let your light shine!

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the father was ready and waiting for the son to come back home. He was sitting on his porch expectantly watching the horizon, and he started running towards his son when he saw him a long way off. He closed the gap when he saw that his son was ready to come home!


Be ready to celebrate when your kids turn towards home


God loves your kids more than you do, mom. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. If your heart is broken over the situation your children find themselves in, then God’s heart is broken for them too. But rest assured that the Father has good plans for your kids, and is already working to lead them back home.

No, you can’t save them from the storms of life or the circumstances they’ve found themselves in, or the consequences of their own bad choices. But you can tell them you believe in them. You can pray out loud for them every day. You can pursue them as much as they will allow you to, and you can prepare your heart for the celebration you’ll have when your kids turn back towards home.

Beloved, your child is never too lost for God. The secret to reconnecting with a lost child is keeping our hearts firmly within God’s grasp, and being ready for the day He brings your child home.

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Published on May 30, 2018.

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