Mom and Dad ask, “Where did we go wrong!?!” Part 1 by Ken Nair
The purpose of this article is to address a situation that is causing much grief in many families. It seems to have no solution, leaving many parents to face agonizing grief and guilt.
Let’s take a peak into the lives of some honest, committed-to-their-children, self-sacrificing parents. These parents, after a life of sincerely caring for their family and purposefully providing a Christian home, can be heard making the following statements.
“I don’t know what’s come over our son. He’s hanging around with some corrupt kids and he’s staying out late at night getting into all kinds of trouble.”
“The guy our daughter’s dating doesn’t believe in God. We’ve talked ‘till we’re blue in the face about it and she rejects everything we say. He treats her like trash, and she keeps going back for more”
“We’ve just found out that our son has been drinking and using drugs for a long time. He knows we’re against it. We’ve tried to reason with him but he gets angry at us and doesn’t listen.”
“Our daughter’s getting into this vampire stuff. She doesn’t talk with us, and when she’s home she goes straight to her room where she listens to loud blaring stuff she calls music. And we’ve started noticing scratches or cuts on her arms.”
“Our son has quit going to church and has stopped praying or reading his Bible.”
“Our daughter makes spiteful remarks about and is ready to debate our perspectives on Christianity and the Bible, and she is frequently ready to debate them.”
You may have either faced similar situations or you know someone who has. And if it’s happened to you, you’ve wondered, “Where did we go wrong?”
Some parents might say, “It’s as if Satan stole our son or daughter and replaced him/her with a demon possessed clone!” Even though your situation may vary, the same attitudes are apparent.
As a Christian parent, you may be facing or have faced this dilemma. If so, that’s what I want to address.
Let me use a real case as an example. This case is meant to be generic so it could easily be about a son or daughter. If this example seems more radical than your situation, keep in mind, if you can gain understanding about a radical situation, surely the solution can be applied to lesser situations.
Here’s the scenario: This family attended church “religiously.” (Attending church religiously is not a contributing factor.) Their son accepted Christ as his Savior at an early age and regularly attended church with his parents. They made sure that their son’s Sunday school teachers were teaching the fundamentals of Christianity. The family practiced traditionally understood Christianity in their home.
In other words they did everything they believed Christian parents should do. Still, during their son’s high school years or shortly after his graduation, these parents started noticing changes in their son. Let’s call their son Ben. Then he went (about five hours away) to college. That’s when his changes really became noticeable or more exaggerated.
Soon after Ben arrived at college, his parents watched him get in relationships with girls who were at best, questionable. Because they tried to reason with him about his associations and the moral consequences of his behavior, his contact with his parents became noticeably less frequent and very artificial. (I’ll address this later, in “Point 1.”)
As the school year was coming to an end, in an attempt to remove Ben from the negative atmosphere, his parents secured a promise from him stating that he would come home during the summer to be with the family. Ben agreed, but it was only to get them “off of his back.” It wasn’t long before they discovered he had had no intention of honoring his promise. Instead he planned to stay on campus. (I’ll address this later, in “Point 2.”)
Ben gave multiple excuses for not coming home. Initially he gave excuses like he could get extra credit if he completed additional studies during the summer. Secondly, he needed to use the summer to practice at improving his talents at his chosen sport. And, finally, because dorm life was so distracting to his studies, he needed to get an apartment during the summer. In order to get a good one at a fair price, he needed to get this apartment before school resumed. Therefore, if he were to come home over the summer break, only junky places would be available once he returned to the college. So, once he found acceptable living arrangements, he wanted to rent it at the better “off school season” price. And upon signing the lease, he decided he might as well live in it? So, now, he needs to get a decent paying job to pay for the apartment along with other expenses.
But mom and dad suspected (and later it would be verified) the real reason for Ben’s hesitation to return home… he was planning to spend the summer with his girl friend.
Knowing the family and having some rapport with the children, I received a call from Ben’s parents for help. They explained that Ben wouldn’t discuss any of their concerns with them, so I agreed to talk with him.
When I called and asked if we could talk, Ben suspected that his parents were probably behind my call. He started explaining that he was sick and tired of arguing with his parents. They didn’t listen to him. And, he was done with their manipulation, control and intimidation. (I’ll address controlling later in “Point 3.”) He then began repeating all the same reasons that his parents had already mentioned. After listening for about a half hour, (I’ll address the idea of listening later in “Point 4.”) I asked if he would like to know the real reason he was facing all this turmoil. He had been living with turmoil and confusion long enough, so he answered, “Yeah.”… continued in Part 2