We must not reject them or judge so quickly or harshly that the damage becomes nearly irreversible. The Savior has taken upon Himself the burden of our sins, pains, infirmities, and feelings of despair, and we are able to receive of the healing power of His Atonement if we soften our hearts and repent of our sins and become a different person. He mourns with us in our extreme agitation, even when His long view of things requires that for our ultimate good in some situations He withhold His hand from lifting our burdens too quickly. How do we begin? Problems with wayward children are usually complicated, and they vary from child to child.
There is no one right way to reach them. Seeking help from the Lord in prayer may be the best or only way we can obtain needed direction specific for our situation. In Romans [ Rom. Having drawn close to the Lord in deep and sincere prayer, we must learn to recognize promptings of the Spirit. We can receive specific instructions through the Spirit about what our child needs at a given time.
Once we receive whisperings of the Spirit, we need to move forward steadfastly. Sometimes the things we feel impressed to do may require faith on our part. Only the Lord knows the full picture. If we are willing to turn our minds and hearts over to Him, we can obtain insight that allows us to take a wise course of action for our child at any given time.
Knowing we are directed by the Lord results in great personal inner strength during troubled times. Remember that we are not abandoned. The scriptures promise hope and peace. That Jesus Christ understands exactly what parents of wayward children may suffer is apparent from His magnificent parable of the prodigal son.
In that parable the Lord made it clear that we can eventually triumph over almost all obstacles by exercising patience and developing greater wisdom and understanding. See Luke — If you cannot seem to reach your daughter or son now, you can at least keep trying and keep loving him or her, for the very will to reach out, nurture, and extend help to another is an act of love that does not always go unnoticed.
President Joseph F. Speak to them kindly. This prophetic counsel from President Smith and the doctrines summarized above should give all parents hope that they can ultimately triumph if they remain prayerful and helpful and maintain an open door for their children.
We must build our children and hold on to them. If, during their younger years, we create family friendships that strengthen and support them, we have a better chance of helping them later through their trials and temptations. I have a few suggestions to share that may help parents weather through trials with wayward children. Take Care of Yourselves First. Your children may depend on you for advice, maturity, and assistance in handling difficult situations. If you are not functioning well physically and emotionally during such critical moments, you are less likely to be of help to your children.
Continue with your own appropriate activities as far as you reasonably can. Children may challenge you and question your standards and judgment. Be ready to share your convictions and wisdom. Sometimes the moment to talk will be late at night when you are tired, but respond positively to those moments when the door swings open between you and your child.
Seek Help. In recent years, medical science has learned much about alcoholism, drug abuse, and other serious vices and conditions. I strongly urge parents of drug and alcohol abusers to investigate the latest techniques and services available to assist and rehabilitate troubled youth.
As appropriate, consult with your home teachers, your quorum leaders, and your bishop or branch president. Some parents unwisely place their own personal hopes and expectations on the achievements of their children. While parents properly rejoice in the successes of their children, too much emphasis on parental expectations may place undue pressure and stress on their children.
Support Your Prodigal Child in Wisdom. Eventually one of them may ignite the spark that begins the process of turning around your son or daughter. It may be a close friend, a sweetheart, a teacher, a wise Scoutmaster, a seminary teacher, or a priesthood, Young Women, or Relief Society leader. Sometimes youth reconsider their choices or lives after experiencing the hard knocks administered by judicial or law enforcement systems.
Often, however, youth finally turn again to their families. As in the parable of the prodigal son, a wayward son or daughter will sometimes come to himself or herself and return home for balm and support. Show less.
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