Trusting Your Kid to God

Like any good Christian parent, you probably pray for your kid. Especially if your kid is troubled and making bad decisions. But what if God answers your prayer like this:

“Yes, I have heard your prayers and I will surely answer them. Behold, I have prepared a stern policeman and a cruel judge. And I will cause your son to stand before them and be caught in his deeds. I will expose the nakedness of his evil behavior and cause him to suffer the consequences. And I will cause this cruel judge to have a bad hair day on the day your son stands before her, and in her fury and impatience your son will melt before her countenance and cower at her judgments.” Can you trust THAT God with your son, or will you fight Him and try to protect your son from the answers to your own prayers? 

Year ago I had worked with a young man struggling with addictions and although part of him wanted to get better, a larger part of him still wanted his version of “fun”. So his lifestyle continued and his addiction grew. He eventually became so out of control that he stole a friend’s truck and crashed it. He found himself in adult detention as the consequences of his lifestyle began to catch up with him. So, I went to visit him in detention, hoping that he would be humbled and ready to start the hard work of recovery. Instead what I found on the other end of the detention visitation phone was an entitled, over-indulged, and over-protected snowflake crying to me, “When’s my dad gonna get me out!?” I was saddened to find there was still nothing there I could work with to help him.

When I left the detention center I let his parents know I had tried to visit, but he was not in a good mindset and only raved about dad getting him out. It didn’t occur to me that his dad would actually reward that behavior, but the next day the young man’s dad drove 4 hours to bail his spoiled brat out of jail. I was furious. Later I got an email from the mom letting me know how much they appreciated me being there for their son through the last few years. I let them know I was done. I said, “You work against your own prayers. God let him get caught and suffer the consequences of the lifestyle he’s living. But you took the bread out of the oven before the oven even got hot!

Sometimes we pray for our kids and then work against our own prayers. What would it look like to trust your troubled teen to God? Would it mean going hands off? Sometimes. Would it mean not letting his natural consequences become your problem? When we make their problems our own, they hardly feel the consequences. This young man never even tasted the grief of realizing detention was going to be his home for a while because he was so sure that dad would take on the burden of his problems. He knew dad would get a lawyer and get him out of this charge.

Would it be too harsh to call this “snowflake parenting”? The parent acts like a snowflake when they can’t stand the hurt of seeing their kid hurt. So is that really about the kid or is it about themselves? The kid is raised to be a snowflake because they never really got to grow through the things life threw at him.

God is not a snowflake. He will hurt with us and let us hurt. He will leave the bread in the oven until the oven is hot enough and the bread is cook all the way through so that there is no dough left and the bread doesn’t fall. God is a great parent, but will we trust our kids to Him? He might be harsher than you like, but he also sees further down the road and He knows just how stubborn your kid’s heart is.

When our prayers bring about a crucible for our kid, the prayer then needs to turn into listening to God’s leadership. How can you partner with God instead of fight Him? What’s the leading of the Spirit at that point? Listen. Focus on God, not on your kid. What’s He saying? Is He angry, scared, or upset? Then don’t you be either. Allow your kid to grow by you staying out of it unless God tells you to do something.

When your teen sees you at peace even in the middle of his crisis, it will communicate more helpful things to him than seeing you in crisis too. (If you can’t not be in crisis when your teen is in crisis then it points to enmeshment and that is a different issue to work on.)

Here is a prayer I pray for the young men I work with when they are astray: “Father, use the least severe means necessary to get [name] back on track. I trust your judgment.”

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