There is so much hope when you first bring your newborn baby home from the hospital—so much possibility for who they can become.
But it doesn’t take long to realize that raising kids isn’t for cowards! And by the time they reach adolescence, you know that great kids don’t just happen—you have to contend for them.
Maybe that’s where you are today.
You may have a teenager or even a grown child who is rebellious or even a prodigal. You’re hurt, disappointed, and even shocked. And the road can be very lonely. That’s why we want to encourage you today. At House of Hope, we’ve seen many rebellious teens’ hearts turn back toward their families. You can, too.
First, let’s start with the basics.
What’s the difference between a rebellious child and a prodigal?
Rebellion is stubborn—it rejects truth and challenges authority. It refuses to take personal responsibility. This can include rolling their eyes, becoming angry at being given instruction or correction, or breaking household rules. It can even move into worse behaviors like violence, lying, stealing, or substance abuse.
A prodigal has moved from rebellion to fully turning their back on God. It can even be that your child seems so far away from God that there is no possibility of a return.
Here’s the truth.
With God, it is never too late. There is always hope.
You are not powerless.
Based on the advice and experiences of counselors, pastors, and parents of prodigals who have returned, here are 6 Proven Ways You Can Bring Your Prodigal Child Home.
1. Give Your Child Some Space
“‘Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. There is hope…’ says the Lord. ‘Your children will come again to their own land.’” –Jeremiah 31:16-17 (NLT)
You can take God’s Word for it—there is hope for your children’s future. Don’t get trapped in the cycle of weeping and mourning for your children. Instead, start taking action. This often begins by stepping back, which is the opposite of what you usually want to do.
Rebellious children often are so because they feel insecure, lost, and even angry. They’re trying to discover their true identity. Give them some room. The more you move into their space, the more they will move away.
That doesn’t mean you step completely away. Instead, focus on encouraging and blessing them, and avoid criticizing, condemning, or pushing them in their relationship with God.
Suppose your child is still living at home. In that case, it is essential to continue setting proper boundaries but also take the opportunity to bless them and show your unconditional love for them.
2. Intercede for Your Child
“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces…results.” –James 5:16 (NLT)
One of the most effective things you can do for a rebellious or prodigal child is to pray for them. Not sad, begging prayers. No.
You must learn to intercede effectively, as James 5:16 says. How? You put your feelings aside and focus on God’s will for your child.
There have been many testimonies of rebellious or prodigal children turning around as a result of a praying parent. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Keep pressing in, keep interceding, keep knocking, and keep asking. You will see great results if you faint not.
Find A Prayer for Rebellious Teens HERE.
3. Take Authority
“Behold, I give you the authority…” –Luke 10:19 (NKJV)
If your rebellious child is still living at home, you must address any sign of rebellion immediately. A no-tolerance policy for defiant behavior should begin at a very early age.
That means you cannot afford to let things like backtalk, eye-rolling, or refusing to do chores or comply with requests go without a response. This eventually leads to more significant and more frequent rebellion over time. Don’t assume they’ll grow out of it—they won’t!
Even if your children are grown—you can set expectations for behavior in your home. And don’t forget—you have spiritual authority where your family is concerned. Use it!
4. Be an Example of Respect
“Set an example…in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity….” –1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)
Often, rebellious children lash out in response to a lack of boundaries, neglect or criticism, or a lack of love and affection. But sometimes they do so because of the example set at home.
If that’s the case, the first thing you need to correct is you. That can be hard to hear, but it is crucial to getting your heart’s desires when it comes to your rebellious child.
Ask yourself these questions…
Do you disrespect your spouse? Your boss? The police, the government, or the president? What about your pastor? How do you speak to and about him?
Respect in the home is so important. If a husband and wife don’t love and respect one another, how can they expect their children to show love and respect to them or others?
Try to correct this area in your life and apologize to your child, if necessary, for where you’ve missed it.
5. Release Your Child to God
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” –Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
Even if children aren’t in a state of rebellion, it can be difficult for parents to release their children to God. It’s so tempting to hold them tightly in our grasp!
The most loving thing to do—and one of the ways to bring a prodigal child home—is to release them into the hands of God. Refuse to worry and trust that He is working as you put faith in Him.
6. Never Give Up On Your Child
“After you have done everything…stand.” –Ephesians 6:13 (NIV)
Maybe it’s been years, even decades. Perhaps you haven’t seen or spoken to your child for longer than you can remember. All hope seems lost.
Never give up on your child. God never will.
Keep standing and believing, and remember what David said in Psalm 27, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord….Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!”
Take charge of your life by putting these 6 Ways to Bring a Prodigal Child Home into practice. Love always believes the best. It’s time to believe that your prodigal is coming home!