In the past year, my family has experienced the pain of a prodigal child. We have homeschooled our children for the last eighteen years. We have provided many hours of spiritual training for all our children. We have sought to fill their hearts and minds with Scripture. We have taken them to church from birth.

We feel we have used the right formula for raising children for God. Of course, we have made mistakes, but our motive in everything we have done for our children has been to raise them to love the Lord and serve Him with their lives. We even developed a family mission statement to help us in the process.

Despite our best efforts as parents, we cannot control the free will of our children or what they do once they reach adulthood. Some of you reading this today have experienced the pain of a prodigal child. You know that the free will of Adam and Eve led to the original sin in the Garden of Eden. God gave us a free will to follow Him or to choose to do otherwise. When our young adult children chose to exercise their free will to do something that is contrary to our beliefs, our first reaction is to take responsibility and feel like we have failed as parents.

When our young adult children choose an ungodly path, we can love them and pray for them. We do not have to support them financially. We do not have to take responsibility for their decisions. We may need to make decisions that are tough to make. Prodigal children may choose to, or be asked to, move out of our homes.

Right now, you may not know where your child is. You may not be able to contact them. Your heart will ache. You will cry out to God continually. Know that He is with you, and He will not leave you. He will be with you through this valley. You are not alone.

Since I first started writing about parenting a prodigal child, I have had many messages from parents in the same situation. Many of them are suffering in silence. They are fearful of telling others about the situation. The first person we talked to about our situation was our pastor. He and his wife counseled us and prayed for us. They prayed for our child. We had close friends that we also told as the situation progressed. We could not have walked this journey without the support and love of prayer partners that God put in our lives.

Many months have passed, and our prodigal has decided to follow God and His plan for his life. It has not been an easy path for him to get to this point, but praise God, he has turned his life around.

If you are in this situation, you have Hope for your child. That Hope is Jesus. He can deliver your child. I encourage you to find a prayer partner or a couple who can pray with you and your spouse. You do not have to walk this valley alone. God is with you no matter what, and He uses everything for His good and His purposes. Sometimes it takes a while for us to see the good, but it is there.

Tami Fox and her husband, Jonathan, have homeschooled their six children in North Carolina since 2000. They have graduated three, and in 2018, they are homeschooling three boys in grades eleven, nine, and six. Tami has written two books to encourage the homeschool mom. In Giving Your Children Wings, Tami shares about training her children in life skills through their homeschool journey. In her second book, Finding Joy in Brokenness, Tami shares about finding joy in less than joyful situations. You can read her daily tips on home organization at TamiFox.net.