When Children Walk Away

March 10, 2013
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"Just run away, Forrest." Jenny gave Forrest Gump this advice when he faced unpleasant situations. And I've done it.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, "I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth, I knew not where." And I've done that, too, though not literally.

One concerns reaction, and the other, focus. As a parent, teaching my children both was taxing. Their reaction to my guidelines and methods of discipline didn't always produce the desired response. Anger, sulking, sarcastic remarks, stomping out of the room, going to their mom — at one time or another, they tried them all. And since they were inexperienced, their focus was often on the immediate and temporary.

The prodigal son's was too.

Luke 15:13 – Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. (NIV)

His father provided him a good life presently and had an inheritance waiting for him. But his father's time frame and definition of enjoyment didn't fit his, so he disregarded his father's authority as head of the family, requested his share before his father's death, and walked away.

Many parents experience the heartbreak of children walking away — from relationships, responsibilities, home, family. But most devastating is a walk away from God. At best, we have only twelve years to convince our children of faith's importance. Foundations are laid early.

What can a parent do when children walk away? Take comfort that you have given them a secure foundation. The structures that they build on it may temporarily crumble, but the foundation never will. Pray. God never gives up on His children, nor should we. Forgive, because parental love is unconditional. And be available when they return.

Parenting is perhaps life's most difficult job, but it gives a glimpse of God's relationship with us. As He loves us through our foibles, so must we love our children.

Prayer: Regardless of our children's ages, God, give us the grace to love and guide them with unconditional love. Amen.

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About the author:

Martin Wiles <mandmwiles@gmail.com>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:


    Thank you for your devotional this morning Martin.

    Thank you Martin for sharing these wise words with us.

    Very good devotional. We all need God’s grace in order to love our children, unconditionally.

    I was just talking with a friend about our children who are almost 50 — yet we think of them as children –oh my!

    Oh how right you are! Been there — experienced that.
    Good message, Martin. Thank you.

    How fitting for my life and timely reminder to keep loving the child anyway. Thanks for this morning’s time with godly counselling. Peace be to you!

    Hello Martin, I enjoyed what you shared with us today and It was good to see you share again. I look forward to the next time. May God continue to be with you.

    Good morning, Martin: Thank you for your words of wisdom this morning. You are right — our children teach us a lot about our own relationship with God.
    Blessings in Christ!

    Been there done that! …Still doing it!
    Ah, the grace of God for us both as parents and children.

    Hi Martin,
    This is good advice for all parents. It is also good advice for those of God’s children, of any age, who walk away from Him. As you say, “He never gives up on His children.”
    A very reassuring devotional.

    Dear Martin,
    As I read your devotional this morning, I thought about three families I know who have children that are estranged. I’m praying for God’s unconditional love to restore their relationships. Thank you for bringing attention to this important topic.

    Thank you for your wise words Martin. They are very timely. Blessings.

    Thank you very much Martin for your devotional and the message therein.


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