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How to Deal With a Prodigal Child

How to Deal With a Prodigal Child

Most of us have dealt with a “prodigal” (rebellious, independent, foolhardy) child.  It’s true that some parents have never had a child drift away from their faith.  I have, and I can help you with that.


Jesus told the story of the “Prodigal Son” whose father waited longingly for perhaps months or even years while his son was in a far country.

I know that feeling.  Where are they?  Who are they with?  What are they into? 

Here is what you do while you are still waiting…


  • The biggest lesson I learned about “co-dependence” is that when I bail out a child I am “enabling them” to go deeper into their issues.
  • You think they will leave you FOREVER if you don’t meet every little need in their life that has come because of their sin. Let them crash.
  • Surely the wealthy father had the money to bail Jr. out! He chose to keep his money in his pocket and let the circumstances bring change.  The only thing that changes character is PAIN.  Read about that HERE 
When I bail out a child I am “enabling them” to go deeper into their issues. - Larry Stockstill


  • Despair will cloud all your communication with a wayward child. When you are with them, all you can think is RESCUE.
  • Reach out to them as a child first. They may not be right with God but they may still love to fish!
  • Relax, even though inwardly you are dying a thousand deaths to see them in their condition. Imagine what the Prodigal Son looked like after a few months in the hog pen!


  • In our darkest hours, it was so helpful to have other believers who knew our situation. They did not stop praying for months and months until God brought the breakthrough.
  • This is the importance of a small group. I know that many churches have them.  You need one right now!  Ask your pastor for a small group who can walk with you in a compassionate, confidential way until the enemy releases your precious child.


  • The Word of God always builds faith. When you have NONE because of their condition, get a list of promises in Scripture about your children.  Here is a great list of 38 promises:  
  • The Bible will comfort and strengthen you in the battle for a wayward child. Here are a couple of my favorites:
    • “The offspring of the righteous WILL BE DELIVERED” (Prov. 11:21)
    • “My offspring will be MIGHTY in the land” (Ps. 112: 2)
    • “God will contend with him who contend with me, and HE WILL SAVE my children” (Isa. 49:25).

Everything turned out amazing in our crisis of a wayward child.  Many years have passed and they have become a fruitful, effective Christian leader.

Let me encourage you. Hang in there! It’s tough right now…but one day you will see the Prodigal coming over the hilltop on their way home.

We raised all of our children with the Word of God at the center, and you can too READ BLOG POST HERE

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