My adult son is making life choices that go against the way we raised him. I’m struggling about what to do. Am I enabling him if I tolerate his choices and maintain a relationship with him? As Christians, are there boundaries we can set in our relationships that allow us to love our children but not endorse their choices?

First of all, I just want to say I am sorry you are having to navigate this scenario. Parenting is definitely not for the faint of heart! Three thoughts come to mind as I ponder your questions. 

1. LOVE NEVER FAILS. 
Never stop loving and praying for your son. Even if his decisions are heartbreaking for you, keep your heart open to him. In your situation, I would do my best to keep an ongoing relationship with him. Above all, let him know you love him. When my daughter was a little girl, I used to constantly say to her, “There is absolutely nothing you could ever do that will make me stop loving you.” Now that she’s older, I will occasionally tease her and jokingly ask, “Am I ever going to stop loving you?” She will immediately yell back, “Nope! There’s nothing I will ever do that will make you stop loving me!” Perhaps you had these same conversations with your son, and now he’s putting those words to the test. As heartbreaking as it is, keep loving him. 

2. BOUNDARIES ARE A GOOD THING! 
You can love your son while still maintaining your convictions. You don’t need to do anything that would compel you to violate your conscience. You may want to predetermine what your non-negotiables are as you work to keep a loving relationship with your son. You don’t have to change your moral convictions to accommodate your son. Extend unconditional love while holding onto your beliefs. 

3. MAKE IT EASY TO COME HOME. 
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about the prodigal son in Luke 15. Verse 20 says, “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him” (NLT). His father extended love and forgiveness before the son could even ask for it. Be ready to react the same way when your son (we pray) returns to the faith of his childhood. 

In the meantime, I encourage you to tend to your own heart by getting connected with others, especially other parents who may share similar struggles. Sign up for an Equip class, such as Parenting and Partnering with Your Adult Children, Freedom Basics, or Intentional Parenting. You can also join a Gateway Group and/or attend a KAIROS freedom event.”

 

Have a difficult question? Email askapastor@gatewaypeople.com.