I Could Be That Mom

I’ve been a mentor of teen girls for more than sixteen years, and in that time, I’ve walked through some rather difficult situations with girls and their families. What has always surprised me over the years is how often the girls are able to keep their trouble, and rebellion, off their parent’s radar screen.

Before I had my own teen children, it was pretty easy to pass judgment about what every mom or dad ought to do in order to keep their children from walking in prodigal shoes. But the fact is, I could be that mom. All my children have the potential of going the prodigal way, just as much as I do. God’s gift of free will enables us to embrace loving him as much as it allows us to take one degree steps in the wrong direction.

Cultivating a Relationship with Your Teen

Even though I feel a sense of confidence about what my tween and teen daughters are up to when they are out of my sight, the reality is that I may not know as much as I think I do. We’ve spent hours talking (and training) about how to live with integrity and long term vision, yet our children will have to choose for themselves whether they will yield to God or the ways of this world. Their flesh will be as tempted as mine to dominate their discernment and self-discipline!

As a mom, I’ve had to fight against the fear of my own children rebelling, especially when I’ve seen how unexpectedly it happens in other families.

In one particular year, I was mentoring three girls, two of whom came from loving and devoted Christian families. Can you imagine the shock and disappointment when these girls made choices that landed them in a big heap of trouble, not once but twice in less than three months! I felt like a total failure as a mentor, shared sobs with not only the girls but with their moms! These were Christian moms raising daughters using the same Bible study materials I was pouring through with my own girls.

Desperate and defeated, I begged God, “If this happened to these girls, what can keep it from happening with mine?”

He answered me. And He changed my parenting forever.

You can’t protect them from making bad decisions. Their choices are their choices. But you can continue to pour into their lives and establish a relationship with them that is bathed in My love. You won’t be able to control their future but you can be the one they return to in their mess. Receive them as I receive you. In love. Even if there are consequences.

By the grace of God, I realized I needed to spend more time listening and engaging with my growing children, and less time worrying about their future. I put my schedule and priorities under careful scrutiny, and made the necessary changes so that I could be available to hear their hearts, instead of being out at a meeting or staring at a screen or pursuing some dream that could wait until tomorrow.

I realized that we need to cultivate relationships with our kids that would be able to withstand the stress of a prodigal challenge rather than crumble under the impact of one. {Tweet this thought!}

Yes, I could be that mom who has no idea what her teen is up, too. But why borrow trouble worrying about tomorrow? Instead, I’m focusing on on building a relationship that will outlast the mistakes and lay a foundation for God to make beauty from ashes. Will you join me in doing the same?

For more encouragement on parenting tweens and teens, visit MoretoBe.com

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  • Heather

    Great post! And a great reminder that we should not judge each other when we see teens making wrong choices. I have been there, and oh the devastation! Not only are you hurting for your child, but to add the judgement of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? This should not be!

    • Elisa Pulliam

      Heather, thank you so much for leaving a comment and sharing the reality
      of how much we can hurt one another when we judge one another based on
      the behavior of our children. The Lord wants us to respond with mercy, right! May He prompts us to do so more and more often.

  • Lori Wildenberg

    I love this post. Love…relationship… the keys to bringing prodigals home. And you remind us that as long as we are ‘humans” we have the propensity to wander. Thanks!