Parenting prodigals

child in trouble with parentsParenting teens is hard, so one expert is offering some helpful advice.

Every parent-teen relationship has its ups and downs, and most parents intuitively know not to take the throes of young angst too seriously. But sometimes, if a child really seems to go off the rails, making bad choice after bad choice, then Mark Gregston of Heartlight Ministries says what a parent is dealing with a prodigal. In such cases, the problems often start when what the teen wants out of life conflicts with what the parents want for them.

“The tendency is … those two desires start to hit each other, then a child starts to spin out of control because they don’t feel accepted, they don’t feel loved, they don’t feel like somebody’s engaging with them,” Gregston offers. “So they start making poor choices.”

As the mature ones, he says parents should look for ways to speak lovingly into the lives of a wayward teen.

“They may not be following the right footsteps, but they may be following their footsteps and making poor choices along the way,” he relates.

Most importantly, Gregston advises parents to be flexible.

“I don’t want a child to be pushed out of the circle of what we want for them just because we long and desire something different,” he says.

And remember, the parent-child relationship is not about winning or losing; it is about loving.

“When I have every right to walk away from my child, I’ve got to be moving toward them,” the Heartlight Ministries co-founder concludes.

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