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May 16, 2011

My Hurtful Son

From Brent

We had two kids graduate this week, one from college, the other from high school. We'll get some pictures up pronto.

A reader asked:

Our 27 year old son has pursued his ministry calling for 15 years. He got married and since a short time after, he has not been the same son. A lot has happened but bottom line is, we feel he now says and does hurtful and disrespectful things to the rest of our family. We have not spoken with him in 6 months. He attends a Christian graduate school. I have sent presents and cards to try to mend the situation. Should we try to contact him or just keep praying that God will do His work in their lives. We are ready and willing to forgive their behavior. I want my family to be whole again. What's your advice?

My answer:

Having ongoing family discord is always tough. It's something that you are constantly reminded of every minute of the day. It can really eat at you, and I'm sorry you're dealing with it.

First, other than extreme situations, it's never wrong or bad to continue to be kind (sending gifts and cards), to try and contact the disenfranchised family member (as long as it is not aggressive, comes with strings attached, or for the purpose of continually rebuking them or putting them on a guilt trip) and to gently and consistently try to restore the relationship.

I would continue to try and contact him at the same times you would NORMALLY contact him if things were normal and happy. If he sees that you still continue to love him and treat him as a son even though he is not reciprocating, perhaps he will be convicted of his unloving behavior.

Now, it may very well be that there are things going on in their marital relationship that are causing him to avoid you. It might be embarrassment over the state of the marriage; it might be pressure from the spouse or spouse’s family; it might be some sin or situation you are unaware of that affecting his behavior.

It could also be that in his mind YOU are the problem. Obviously I don't know anything more about you than what is in your question, so I urge you and your spouse to be very honest about your own contribution to the situation and make sure that you are not at fault somehow as well.

Assuming you are not, I would continue to treat them as if you would treat any of your children in a normal situation. Let him, and her, know that you love them, you miss them and you are there for them if they need you.

Human nature being what it is though, you must emotionally prepare yourself to accept that he is an adult, he struggles with sin, he has pressures and stresses... just like you, just like me.

So he may not be responsive. It may get worse. It may never resolve.

You are not in control and no matter how much you long for the restoration of your family, your children are not robots. Just like we do all the time with God, your children may not choose to be "good" to us.

My advice is to continue to call just to say you love them and are thinking about them. Send cards, send gifts. Expect nothing in return knowing that God will honor your loving sacrifice. Trust that God will get into their hearts and restore the relationship with you BUT know that even if that doesn't happen, God will cause the situation to work for your good and His glory. He promises that (Rom 8.28).

Should you keep praying? Well of course you know that answer to that.

What are your questions for me?

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Bobbie B said...

There was no mention of meeting with their son to have a "heart-to-heart" talk for the purpose of asking him what they have done to cause him to distance himself from his family. They must let him know they are prepared to ask his forgiveness for anything they may have done to cause him to have a change of heart towards them. It would be worth the time to travel to wherever he lives, stay in a hotel, and meet with him and hopefully reconcilate. Encourage him to get this out in the open...on the table. Let him talk while they listen. Then before they speak one word, pray and ask the Lord to give you just the words. Words full of love, non-judgemental, compassion, kindness, and GRACE. Much love & grace should be extended at his point. They need to let him know just how much they love him and miss him in their lives and how proud they have always been of him. One thing I found to be true, our kids may not rebel during the teen years, but can rebell later into their adult years. There may be a deep seated hurt that these parents are not aware of. Satan could have been lying to him and he has bought the lie. Convinced that it is true. When it is a lie from the pit of hell. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, AND THEN COMMIT IT ALL TO GOD AFTER THEY HAVE DONE EVERYTHING ON THEIR PART TO BRING HEALING TO THE RELATIONSHIP.

LaVon Baker said...

Brent, excellent advice. Bobbie B. also has very good advice.

Our children need to be validated. Sometimes all it will take is listening to them and letting them know that their feelings are understood instead of arguing with them that their feelings aren't well founded. If a child feels like they've been hurt or their expectations haven't been met, we need to validate those feelings for them to be able to heal and move forward.
The rest is in God's hands and He will hear our prayers and work in the life of that child, in His time. Trust Him and continue in love just as Brent advised.

Kelly L said...

Hi - I am asking for fellow bloggers to visit my site in hopes that we can find a match for a young girl that desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. Would be great if you could visit today too. Thank you. Kelly
I've Become My Mother
I've Become My Mother facebook

Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering if it was intentional to link to the blogs of the people who asked the questions? These are very sensitive questions, especially the one about marital intimacy, and I would personally be greatly embarrassed if your readers had a way of identifying me (or thinking it was me who asked the question) because my blog was posted after the question. Just a thought!