You’ve spent his entire life trying to raise him right. You’ve prayed for him. You’ve poured your life into him. You’ve taught him how to be. You’ve taught him some of life’s secrets as you understand them—and you’ve been pleased with the way he was turning out.

As he grew, you began to see some of the fruit of your efforts. You looked on with pride as he began to interact with others and you saw something in him that you knew you had put there, something he did because of your instruction, and the way you were raising him.

It made your heart glad when you overheard him bragging about you to his friends. He thought the world of you, and truly believed you were always right.

You’ve bragged on him too, and held him up as an example to others of what can happen if you raise your children right.

Then there was that first time he bucked your authority, that first time he questioned your judgement, that first time he looked at you like you like you were an idiot—and the thought occurred to you, “What have I done!? “

You’re leading him down a path that you know to be the best path for him—and all of a sudden, he’s going down a completely different path! You see him charting courses that you would have never laid out for him—even courses that you have taught him specifically not to even look toward, much less travel down—and your heart begins to ache with a pain that you never thought you would feel.

Overnight, it seems, your child has changed into a different person. Someone you almost feel you don’t even know. Your mind begins to reel at this realization, and you begin to panic. What is going on here? How can this be happening? Have I not taught him better? How could he say something so stupid? How could he do that? He never used to do that! I know I’ve taught him better than that!

What do you do?

The Word of God offers peace and comfort for parents who find themselves in this troubling situation: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

There comes a time when your child has to see and do things for himself, stretch his wings. But if you have taught him right, you have the assurance of God that he will remember the things you have taught him.

Raise your children right, bathe them in prayer, and leave them to God. They may say and do things you never dreamed possible, but I want to exhort you to stand on the above Scripture! That child you used to be so proud of will return!

Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), who demanded and received his inheritance early, so that he could leave home and do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and not have to be bothered with his father’s rules. He got as far away from his father as he could, and did whatever he pleased. He did everything his way. The result was a continuous string of self-indulgent behaviour, which caused him finally to lose everything he had.

The Bible tells us that as this young man reflected on how he had squandered away all his substance on riotous living, he came to himself, and his thoughts returned home—home to his father.

Dear parent, do not give up on that child! Do not think for an instant that all that hard work you put into raising him was for naught! He may travel down paths that you have warned him not to go down, and he may even suffer loss and hardship because of it—but there will come a day when he will come to himself, and his thoughts will return to you, and the things that you have taught him And when that happens, the joy that will fill your heart will far exceed the pain and the heartbreak that you now endure, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found!”