Share This Episode
Building Relationships Dr. Gary Chapman Logo

Love, Pray, Listen | Mary DeMuth

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman
The Truth Network Radio
March 11, 2023 1:00 am

Love, Pray, Listen | Mary DeMuth

Building Relationships / Dr. Gary Chapman

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 188 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

March 11, 2023 1:00 am

Does your heart ache for an adult child who has left the faith? On this Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author and speaker Mary DeMuth talks about parenting your wayward adult children. She says the three keys are to love, pray, and listen. And she says your life doesn’t have to be put on hold because of that wayward adult child. 

Featured Resource: Love, Pray, Listen

See for privacy information.


The God of the universe had a perfect environment for his people. He was the perfect parent, and yet his adult kids rebelled.

And so if that's true, then who are we to think that it's not going to happen to us or that we're in good company? Plus, we have this great empathetic God who understands what it's like to have billions of wayward children. Today, help for the parent whose child has made a different choice in their life's direction. Call them wayward, prodigal. The focus of this conversation is how a parent can thrive when your children stray. A featured resource today is a book by Mary DeMuth titled Love, Pray, Listen, Parenting Your Wayward Adult Kids with Joy.

You can find out more at our website, Gary, as a pastor, you have seen the pain and heartache of parents of wayward children, haven't you? Over and over again, Chris. It's been amazing.

And especially in the last 20 years, it seems like I've heard it more than I did in the earlier years. And it's heartbreaking, you know, there's no question about it. I mean, you want to weep when you hear this, some of the stories. I am really, really excited about our conversation today because I think so many parents out there can identify with it. And I think it's going to give them practical help and particularly the book that Mary's written.

Yeah. And if you are coming to this program with a broken heart, I hope that what you hear today, we prayed for you. We, I hope what you hear will give you encouragement that there's more than just what's going on there in your situation, that God's in the middle of this. So let's meet our guests and see if Mary DeMuth can give us a little encouragement. She's an international speaker, podcaster, author of more than 40 books, fiction and nonfiction, including The Day I Met Jesus. She loves to help others restory their lives through the books that she writes.

She lives in Texas with her husband of 30 years and is a mom to three adult children. You find out more about her at And you can see our featured resource at our website, Again, it's titled Love, Pray, Listen.

Just go to Well, Mary, welcome to Building Relationships. Thank you for having me. It's so great to be here. I think the message in your book is going to help a lot of parents and maybe some who are afraid about the future. You know, what's going to happen to my child? Would you share a little bit about your story and why you wrote about this topic?

Yes, I'd be happy to. A couple of years ago, before my kids were adult kids, I was in a prayer loop with some friends and there was one particular woman on the prayer loop who her joy and her despair rose and fell on the actions of her adult kids. And I just remember watching it from afar thinking, I just really don't want to have that happen to me. I knew that my kids were going to make all their choices when they left home, but it was tested when my kids did leave home and started making all those awesome choices.

And I remembered this lady and I thought, you know what? I believe that this part of my life as a Christ follower is probably one of the most productive ministry-wise of my life. And if I succumb to allowing my kids' actions to inform my joy, it's going to sideline me. And so there has to be a way to work through their choices with joy and backed by Scripture. And so that was kind of the kernel of writing the book.

Yeah. You know, I think many of us can identify with that and I certainly can with the people I've counseled through the years that we do tend to allow the decisions of our adult children to impact how we respond to life or itself. So let's define our terms. We're talking about wayward adults. What is a wayward adult child? That's a little bit of a moving target because I think each parent would define it differently. Some parents might say my child votes differently from me, so therefore they're a wayward child or they have a different socioeconomic view of things or there's all of that. So I think the broadest way to define it is a child that obviously does not meet your spiritual expectations. So you hoped that they would follow Christ as adults and they aren't in a process, as I have said, is that some of my kids, not all of them, but some of them are working on their testimonies. It's a more positive way to talk about their journey that they're on. Yeah. Could a parent feel that a child is wayward when really they're not?

Is that a possibility? Yes, I think that's happening a lot right now, especially in the deconstructive movement that's going on. I'm not as afraid of deconstruction as you might think because I think all adults have to untangle or unburden themselves from what is not Christianity and what is cultural Christianity. So instead of viewing a deconstructing child in a wholly negative way, it can be positive because they actually may be teaching us something about maybe what we've clung to that's cultural and not New Testament theologically astute, correct ways to follow Jesus. So yes, I do think, as I said before, it's a moving target and I think we can think, well, if our child doesn't go to the same denominational church that I went to, then therefore they're wayward when in fact they may be really working on a robust faith, letting go of some cumbersome things and attaching onto the historic Christian faith. But that can really be hard when my expectation is I've raised my child, I've taken them to Sunday school and they've gone to Awana and they've had the memory verses and they've sung hymns with me and here's how it's supposed to turn out. I thought God was going to have it turn out this way and it's not turning out that way. So really our expectations are more God-ward than they are with our kids in some ways, aren't they, Mary?

Yes, and they are shattered often. And I think that's part of people in my generation who raised kids, kind of the Gen X generation, we did pick up all those parenting books. I was kind of raised by wolves, so I didn't know how to parent kids.

I was definitely reading all the books. And even though no one said, if you follow my formula, your kids are going to come out like little robots on the end, following and loving Jesus and raising their hands in worship. It doesn't necessarily happen. And I think even though it was not overtly promised, we kind of felt like we were special and we were going to do all the right things. And so when the formula didn't work, there is a great amount of discouragement. First of all, we feel guilty, like obviously I didn't do all the steps right. And then we feel like God maybe let us down and then we're deeply grieved by some of the choices that our kids made. So yes, I just want to acknowledge that just because our kids are turning out in a way that we did not anticipate, it doesn't mean we shouldn't grieve.

It is a grief and it is an unmet expectation. Yeah. You used the word deconstructing faith, which is a popular word today. Speak just a word to our listeners about what you mean by that.

Yeah, thanks for asking that. There's a lot of people kind of untangling or unmeshing what they grew up in as a Christian. So they're looking at their church. They may have, perhaps they've been in the Southern Baptist Convention and they've seen the sexual abuse scandal, which is widespread among all churches. So it's not just that one.

And they're asking questions. And so the problem is when you're deconstructing with a lot of secular voices around you, you can deconstruct to oblivion. There's a different way to deconstruct where you're deconstructing in Christian community and trying to figure out and untether and untease what the historic Christian faith is.

And so to deconstruct means to dismantle kind of postmodern thing to do. And then some people never reassemble. And so our hope and prayer is that someone is dismantling, is reassembling in a healthy way, but that doesn't always happen.

Yeah. And I think that's where parents really begin to hurt. When the child comes home, for example, and says, I no longer believe in God.

I mean, that's the ultimate in terms of disappointment. But as you say, it's a healthy process of growing and really asking yourself and studying the scriptures and asking God to guide you on what of the things that I have been taught growing up are really biblical. I mean, that's a positive thing when we're taking that approach to what I hear you saying.

Yes, yes. And I think it's an important process that all adult believers have to go through. I haven't had that experience because I met Christ when I was 15 and a half years old. And I met from not knowing one thing about Jesus.

And so for me, the idea of pulling something apart makes no sense to me because it was my lifeline as a teenager. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The New York Times bestseller, "The 5 Love Languages" . If you'd like to hear a past program, take an assessment of your love language or see our featured resource today. Go to our website at There you'll find more simple ways to strengthen relationships. Today, Mary DeMuth is discussing how to thrive as a parent when a child strays. Our featured resource is her book, Love, Pray, Listen, Parenting Your Wayward Adult Kids with Joy.

Find out more at Love, pray, and listen. That sounds easy in theory, Mary. All those words are good words.

We like them. But what does it look like to develop these steps? What are the steps we take into where we are loving, praying, listening to adult children?

Well, as I thought about it before I wrote the book, I thought, what can you really do? Because I think as parents, we move from high control to low control. High control, when our toddler's running out into the street, we grab them. Of course, we're going to grab them. But if they're 21, we're probably not going to. They should know better by then to look both ways. So we're moving from high control to low control. And when you get to that place of low control and your kids are on their own, they're their own adults, what really can you do?

And it came back to those three words. Of course, you can love them. No one can prevent you from loving them. Of course, you can pray for them.

No one can prevent you from praying for them. The listen is a little trickier because some kids have ghosted their parents. Some parents have ghosted their kids. They have broken relationship because of usually political views. And therefore, it's hard to listen to a child that you have no relationship with. So that's the one tricky part of that.

But the book is written around 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, in particular, the phraseologies at the beginning, like love is patient, love is kind. And so I basically am exegeting and unpacking what does love look like, and then applying it to your relationship with your adult kids. Yeah. Now you use the word ghosting. Are you referring to when an adult child basically just writes off their parent?

Right. They walk away and essentially you can use the word cancel culture as well. And that can happen on both sides.

It's not just children canceling parents, but parents canceling children as well. Let's talk a little bit about the listening part. I find that it's a lost art in today's world. We're talking, talking, talking.

I don't know who's listening. So how can we begin listening better to our adult children when they are saying things sometimes that are not what we want to be hearing? Yeah, I think that's part of the sanctification journey of not always reacting when you have all these words inside of you that want to react. And that's part of asking the Holy Spirit to control your speech and to have self-control when you'd rather erupt.

One of the words that has really helped me, or like two words together, is holy curiosity. And to be like fascinated and curious about why your child maybe has a different view from you. And when I think about that, and I think about some of the conversations we've had with our adult children, we don't agree 100% with them. I don't agree 100% with anybody.

I don't even agree with me 10 years ago. So, you know, it's just a whole thing. But what I found is like, for instance, we were sitting around the table talking about abortion. This is a very divisive issue. And instead of launching in to something, I asked the question, why do you think that way?

Or what causes you to think that way? And as we were able to kindly peel away the layers, we were able to find common ground. We were all able to say, we really want to see young mothers flourish. And that would not have happened if we were all yelling at each other and not listening. I think just as in a marriage, arguing and trying to come out a winner doesn't work in a marriage. And it really doesn't work with our adult children for sure. Right? Because we do that.

And even if they say, okay, you win and I'm out of here. Now, it's just worse now. You know, you've made it worse rather than what you're saying, trying to find out, you know, what led you to that conclusion?

And what are the factors in that? I'd like to understand that because this is very interesting to me, you know, and openness. But that's hard when you're hurting, right? Sure.

Sure. I mean, it sounds very antiseptic the way I'm saying it in the moment. And I have lots of personal regrets about retorts that I've made. And I've had to ask my kids for forgiveness. So I just want to let parents know that we're all clay-footed creatures and we're going to make mistakes in this area. And our kids are going to make mistakes and they're going to blow up too. So that's normal. We're kind of fumbling our way through because we're in a brand new relationship that we've never had before with them.

Yeah. You know, if one's identity as a parent is in being a perfect parent, you know, which you alluded to earlier, if I do the number one, two, three, four, five, they're going to turn out, you know, perfect. If that's kind of your mentality, and then you have a child that begins to pull back and draw back and disagree on some things that are really fundamental to you, what does that do to the parent?

It can be devastating. And I see a lot of this in those first years, like college years and first years of jobs with parents who have been highly connected to their kids. Now it's not wrong to be connected, but when your identity is tied to the behavior of your children, when they make choices that are against what your wishes would be, then your identity would be crumbling. And this is a really beautiful opportunity to look over the idols in your life humbly and say, Lord, please forgive me. I have made my parenting, my perfect parenting an idol, or I've made my kids an idol and how they've turned out. I have been worshiping at the throne of the perfect family that doesn't exist. And now that it's not happening, I realized that I've placed my faith there rather than in you and my identity there rather than deriving my identity solely from you.

Yeah. You know, the most common thing that I hear parents say in my office when they're coming because they're hurting that their children has made a decision that is just totally, totally against everything they've been taught all their life is they say to me, what did we do wrong? How do you respond to that parent?

I have to take them back to the biblical narrative of the Garden of Eden and let them know that they're in good company, that the God of the universe had a perfect environment for his people. He was the perfect parent and yet his adult kids rebelled. And so if that's true, then who are we to think that it's not going to happen to us or that we're in good company? Plus we have this great empathetic God who understands what it's like to have billions of wayward children. All of us have gone astray. So the Lord has this heartache that I don't understand of seeing all of his children rebel against him at one period of time or another. It's pretty profound, isn't it? When a perfect father, his children went wrong. And not only the first two, but as you say, all the rest of us.

That ought to give some help at least. Now, do you believe that Christian parents don't have to be stuck in life in a situation like this? Because often they are.

They go on for weeks and months and sometimes years and this has just devastated their whole life. But the decisions of our children doesn't have to have that response on our part. How do we respond differently? I think it has to start a couple ways. First is honesty and authenticity with the community that God surrounded us with.

So when I released Love, Pray, Listen, I got a text from a friend of mine and she said, I really need this book. And I literally had no idea that she had adult wayward kids. I think the first stage is letting other parents know. I know there's a lot of shame and like, oh, my child is same sex attracted. My child is changing their gender. There's all those things that are kind of the deeper, harder things that they're dealing with.

Shared in safe community is really important. And then the second thing is to learn how to lament and to look at the structure of a lament psalm. And when David does his laments and the psalmist do laments, they name it. They say, why have you forsaken me? Where are you, God? Why is evil prevailing? And then there's a turn in there of, but I'm going to choose to trust in your unfailing love.

I'm going to follow you. And so going through a grief and a lamenting process is the next step of being able to be set free. You will always, I'm not going to say that we're robots. You will always have pain. If your child is far from God, if your child is drug addicted, you will have pain. But in order to get through it, you have to have other people shouldering that burden.

And you also have to unburden yourself of the grief and walk through the grieving process. Yeah, I think that's so important that you, as you have read through the scriptures, obviously in writing this book, what has helped you navigate this and maybe on your own personal life and helping others? You know, I think for me, it's, I've been rapid reading the Bible lately.

I just wrote a book about it. It's coming out in a bit, but I'm reading it in two months or three months and reading the whole narrative of scripture in a truncated period of time really helps. And I would encourage anyone to do that. And that was, you know, that's very helpful, especially when as a parent one of the examples in the book was a parent had a child that was same sex attracted and they went, they read the Bible and went through it one more time and one more time. And so sometimes we just need to be reminded of the truth of what the scripture says. And it may not be popular, it may not be socially acceptable, but steeping ourselves in scripture rather than steeping ourselves in our phones is really an important step. I really, really appreciate what you said about other people, letting other people in on what's happening in your life. And we can be hesitant as parents to do that, right? Because we feel like, well, this is revealing something about me that I, maybe I failed, but we all need people, right?

Christian life's not designed to be lived as a lone ranger. We do. And that's been, my husband and I lead a life group at our church and that's our community and they all know our journeys. They know and they share theirs. And I think it's, it's modeled and led and therefore it happens when someone goes first. I think that's important too. Yeah, absolutely.

So let's talk about, let's back up a bit and talk about warning signs. Where can parents find comfort when their child begins to question or walk away from the faith? I think it's important to re-emphasize your love for your child when they're walking through.

It can be very destabilizing for them to question their faith. And if you can still be a steady influence and one who loves them well and volunteer to listen, even though it might be really hard, staying in that and staying connected in that relationship is very important. Now that being said, we've had some estrangement from some of our kids in their process. And I think that that's natural. But we consistently, and again, we're not perfect, so we didn't navigate this perfectly, but we consistently tried to reach out and continue to love. And that has made a difference and we are continuing now in relationship, disagreeing on a lot of things, but still loving each other.

When you do have a breakup and the child steps back and perhaps is not having contact with you, even though you would like to, what do you do during that time? Yeah, that's where the prayer comes in and hitting your knees and surrendering. And really, I think it's a time for us to all realize that control is an illusion.

And I definitely have worshiped at the idol of control. And so it's destabilizing for us, but in a good way. We can see this as an impetus for us to surrender more to Jesus and also to empathize with what God goes through every day.

He's watching his kids do all sorts of crazy things all the time. There's a connection to the Lord, this kind of kinship that happens when that is going on. Mary, we have some friends who were grandparents and they just love their grandkids, but because of a spiritual difference between them and their adult son, daughter, doesn't matter, and the marriage that they have, the adult child took the grandkids away. And we got to know them right at the cusp of this, right at the start of the real pain that they were going through, that we can't see our grandkids anymore.

And fortunately for them, they went through this process and they kept praying and they didn't force anything. And eventually things turned around and now the grandkids, I believe, are back in their lives. But that's a devastating thing for a grandparent to have. I can't have access to my grandkids because of my belief in Jesus. Can you talk about that pain?

Yeah, I am not yet a grandparent, but I can only imagine. I do have some friends that are walking through a very similar thing that you just mentioned and it is excruciating. So I just want to acknowledge that that is really hard and that posture of prayer and waiting is also very hard.

One thing I thought of just as you were talking was to write out your prayers for your grandchildren and that praying that perhaps someday you would have a chance to give those to them, maybe on their graduation day or something like that, that this is an active time of waiting and you can see those prayers being answered as you're writing them down. Thanks for joining us today for Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Find us online at We have some great resources, a tool to assess your love language. You can hear a podcast of the program and find out about our featured resource. It's the book by Mary DeMuth titled Love, Pray, Listen, Parenting Your Wayward Adult Kids with Joy.

Just go to Mary as Christians, of course, we believe that there is life beyond the grave and that we go, if we're believers in Christ, we go to heaven. If we don't, we are separated from God. What do you say to parents who are thinking in terms of that reality? They're turning away from God.

They're walking away from what we believe to be the only hope of eternal relationship with God. How do you deal with that? What do you suggest to parents?

Well, first, it's so, so hard. If you peel back all the layers, I think that's where you get to is, will my child be with me in the new heavens and the new earth and will we know each other there? I have to say, though, that one thing that has really helped me is there was a prayer I prayed for a family member for 40 years. I came to the point in that prayer of doing it because I knew I was supposed to, but kind of losing faith that it would ever be answered. And this last year, that prayer has been beautifully answered.

And so I think part of it is that we, at least as Americans, we're very much about convenience. And if I pray, I want my answer right now. But that's the long-endedness of prayer and the carpet-worn areas where you're getting on your knees. Sometimes God asks us to persevere in prayer. So maybe right now our child is not walking with the Lord. That does not mean that God can't work.

And it does not mean that he won't work 20 years from now. We don't know. Yeah. Yeah. Scriptures say God is long suffering, not willing that any should perish.

He wants them to come back more than you do. Oh, yeah. So He wants all to repent. But we can't repent for our children, right? Yeah.

I'm sure all of us wish we could, but we can't. One reaction to a wayward child's decision is for the parent to change their own theology. They began to dig into the beliefs that they have held through the years. And they began to think, well, maybe I have had the wrong idea here. Have you seen that true?

And if so, how do you respond to those parents? Yeah, I have seen that to be true. And one of the examples I gave in the book was a parent whose child came out and parents of a child who came out. And they, you know, as I mentioned before, searched through the Scriptures, and they came to the same conclusion that they'd had before.

But what they were finding was they were looking for a support group of parents who were in that same situation and literally could not find a support group. And they found though that the culture, what the culture says to us is, if you love me, you will not only approve of what I do, but you will applaud what I do. And I don't see that biblically anywhere. There is truth that has to be spoken in love. And so I have seen parents become discouraged that they may hold to what they believe is a biblical sexual ethic. And their friends whose kids have come out are saying, well, then everything is permissible.

And it's just a very lonely place to be. Yeah, I think it's a good point, you know, that you're making. Because if we give up our own fundamental beliefs, which we think are clearly taught in the Scriptures, and just come to agree and affirm, you know, what they're doing, we're doing them a disservice. Because we're mouthing to them things that really are not true. But I agree, we can love them even though we are not affirming what they're doing.

Because basically the love idea is, I want to do, tell me if I'm right, I want to do whatever I can in my life to enrich your life, you know, to give you a better life. Part of that is sharing the truth, but sharing it in a loving way and giving them freedom to walk away, right? Yeah, and I mean, there's something to be said here about saying it once and once alone. Like your kids know what you feel probably, they probably already know what your opinion is, but just to be sure, share it one time and say, this is my position, you know it, and don't share it again. You do not need to beat your child over the head with your, this is my belief, this is my belief. They know you've said it and then let it go and be consistently loving from that point on. But at least that way, and that's the thing I found even in other issues that I've had with adult kids is, they know what I believe and for a time it has caused pain in the relationship for me not to agree with whatever position they're taking, but ultimately they've come back. And that's not a promise from the scriptures, some of them walk away. But that's been my experience is to err on the side of speaking the truth in love, speaking the truth once, and then constantly thinking of ways to serve and love your kids in ways that will help them see that you are tangibly loving them. I've always found it interesting that when the prodigal son in the Bible walked away from the farm and took his inheritance and was certainly a wayward child, that the father did not go out and try to find him and convince him that he's got to come back.

And I love that. And you know what's really interesting about this is I read this story from the perspective, or I heard about reading it from the perspective of my brothers and sisters in Africa. And if you ask them what the point of the story was, like an American would say, when the prodigal came home, someone that has experienced famine would say the point of the story is the famine.

That the kid could have stayed in his wayward ways for a very long time. It was the famine and the pig feeding and all of that that caused him to wake up. And so sometimes we need to pray. You know, we don't chase after them, but we pray, Lord, let the famine be a famine. Yeah. Let God chase them, right? Yes.

Because God knows how to touch their heart far more than we do. Yeah. And He's far more concerned than we are.

Yes. He loves them more than we do. And you know, I'm not saying we need to pray disaster upon our children or anything like that.

That's kind of Machiavellian. But if they are in a situation that is difficult, we can pray, Lord, use this as a famine in their life so that they wake up and come back to you. But that's really hard. That is so hard. And I can see, you know, some parent who's listening right there nodding is like, I really want to trust God here.

But that control thing comes back. There must be some book I can give. There must be some radio.

I can send this radio broadcast. There must be something I can do. And it's like, no, there's nothing you can do.

I mean, there are things. You can pray. And that's the other thing that I think is really important about what you're talking about, that you don't allow this to stop you from living life as a follower of Jesus. You lament and you feel that pain, but you allow it to somehow to propel you. That's part of what your message is, isn't it?

Yes. You've said it very beautifully to propel you forward, because I believe that the enemy has, you know, targets on our kids. You've seen so many suicidal kids, so many addicted kids, eating disorders, anxiety.

I mean, it's just crazy. And I feel like if the enemy's attacking our child and it takes us out as well, then he gets two victories. And I, for one, don't want him to have two victories.

And I don't think he's going to have a victory in my kid's life either. But you know what I'm saying? It's like, I can control my response to this through the power of the Holy Spirit, not in my own strength, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. I can control my reaction to this.

And he does not get to have two victories in this attack. Yeah. I think that's so important.

So important. Because, you know, what I've seen, sometimes more often than I would wish, certainly, is that the parent draws back from God. You know, you're not answering my prayer.

I've done everything I need you to do. I taught them right and now they're doing this and now you're not answering my prayer. And so they kind of turn away from God, their own disappointment with God. That's the worst thing we could do, is it not? Is it to turn away from our only hope?

Yeah. Like, where do we go? You're the one that has the words of eternal life. So why would we leave the one source of refreshment and help that we know? And especially, as I mentioned before, Jesus has empathy. He knows what it's like to have wayward children.

And therefore, why not go to him who understands? Yeah. And the fact that he is long suffering with us, when we do walk away, is again the model for us, right?

Yes. We need to be long suffering, you know. Sometimes we look at ourselves, or let's just say the church, the Christian church, we often walk away from God, individuals in the Christian family. We take steps away. And how does God respond to us?

Well, what does? What does God do when a Christian walks off the trail and begins to respond to the enemy? What does God do? So we know that it's his kindness that leads us to repentance. And it's also the circumstances of our lives that cause us to say, wow, this is a really empty thing to be living my life 100% for myself. There's those realizations that come, and then he is the relentless pursuer, the hound of heaven, as we heard the old poem say, God's capable. And I think part of it, maybe this might be helpful to parents as well. If you look back on your own journey of walking with the Lord and your times of maybe walking away, looking and seeing, first of all, how was God faithful to you? How did he woo you back? And then to realize that your journey of faith was not a straight, normal trajectory of, I'm going up the hill and I never stumble, I never fall, I never walk backwards.

That's not true. And so I look back on my 20s and my faith in my 20s and I kind of like, oh, it was so shallow. I didn't know what I was doing. But that was part of the journey. And so if we can give ourselves grace for that journey and see our own foibles and stumbles and see how faithful God is, we can trust, of course, that God is faithful with our kids and he loves them so much. This is Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the New York Times best seller "The 5 Love Languages" . Mary DeMuth is our guest. Her book is titled Love, Pray, Listen, Parenting Your Wayward Adult Kids with Joy. Find out more at

That's You know, earlier, Mary, we were talking about the prodigal son who walked away and the father did not run after him. But he let the son and let God work in his life to bring him to the place in which his best hope was to run home. God does allow us, as his children, to suffer the consequences when we do wrong.

When we disobey the teaching of God, there's always negative consequences. Even forgiveness doesn't always remove the consequences. So you think that's also a part of this for parents to realize, you know, let God work with them.

Yes, I hate to see them have to go through this, but, you know, it's an act of patience on God's part, warning them to come back. Well, I saw that as a parent when I was, you know, kind of digesting that book, Parenting with Love and Logic, where you allow real world circumstances to inform your child's behavior instead of you always running in there and trying to rescue them. Well, of course, love and logic definitely happens when they're out of your house because they get to experience all those circumstances. And I do have an example in my own life.

Recently, one of my children went through, walked through a divorce that was unwanted and quick, like he hadn't been married for very long. And so we are seeing some consequences of some of his decisions, some of his wife's decisions. But what do we do? Do we say, you know, haha, you have consequences?

Absolutely not. So what we have done is we have gotten into the trenches of grief and we have wept alongside and we have been with our child in the pain and almost as if it was our own pain. And so, yes, there's going to be hard circumstances for difficult decisions your kids make, but that doesn't mean that you, you know, just say, well, haha, you know, you've got to have those consequences. We can be with them in those consequences and be grateful for those consequences, too, in the long run of knowing that God will use those consequences to get their attention.

Yeah. Let's back up a bit to when the children are younger. Are there things that parents can do as the children are younger in terms of communication, building positive communication during the childhood that might make it more likely that we can keep communication as they get older? I really think authenticity is important. And having your kids see you wrestle through things and fail and and not present this fake Christianity to them like, well, we just have to act perfectly all the time. They need to see us weep. They need to see us wrestling with things. They need to see us frustrated with church sometimes. They need to see, you know, us having normal reactions. That provides a safe space for them when they have some of those observations of their own.

And having that place of learning how not to have contentious conversations, learning how not to be right or having the need to be right, I guess is a better way of saying that is important as well. And this is something we learned when we lived in France. So we were missionaries in France and we would go to someone's house and we'd have these like conversations. They weren't heated, but they were conversations and the people would like have one opinion and then they would turn and have a different opinion. And I was so baffled by it because as an American, I was like, well, somebody has to win this argument. But they were switching back and forth because they just like to have a conversation and then they would kiss each other on the cheek and go. And that surprised me and I realized Americans need winners.

But if you can think I would just the winning thing is having a great conversation, then laying that groundwork is super important. Yeah, yeah, I think that's it. I agree with you. You know, when a child leaves the nest, what are some practices that a parent might do to help their children thrive? Because we want them to think through their beliefs. We want their beliefs in God to be personal for them.

But are there some things that we might do to help that process? I think if our children are wanting, if they are leaving the nest and they want to grow in Christ, then we can encourage them that it's your friends that really influence that and to really encourage them to find Christ following friends. As I look at my own friends and their kids, it's the kids that chose non-Christian friends that had a harder time staying in the faith than the ones that had Christ following friends. And so I think that's my greatest piece of advice is to encourage them to find a church right away and to find fellowship somehow.

Yeah. Another thing that comes to my mind, I remember with our son in college and he was wrestling, beginning to wrestle, you know, with some of the things of the Christian faith. And he said to me, Dad, can you give me a book that's serious about Christianity?

You know, it's really, you know, I said, okay. So I gave him Francis Schaeffer's book. It says, The God Who Is There. He came back and he said, I like that. Has he written anything else?

I said, yeah. So I gave him another book, Schaeffer's book that said, he is there and he is not silent, which talks about God's revelation. But you know, that also can be a help, putting the right material in their hands if they're open, you know, and wanting to think through Christian faith. And sometimes, you know, your pastor can help you with that. Maybe you don't have a book in mind, but your pastor likely has books that he could recommend to you as a parent that, you know, could put in their hands when they're asking questions like that.

Yes. And to remember too, the auditory nature of this generation. So giving them podcasts is really helpful as well. Well, you, as you said earlier, you use 1 Corinthians 13 in terms of context of what love is. And I like the way you use that because the qualities or characteristics of love will help parents know, you know, what love looks like, right? Exactly. And it's sometimes we just need to be reminded of it.

The apostle Paul did not write this to a bunch of married couples, he or people wanting to get married, he wrote it to a broken community. And so it's perfect for any relationship. In fact, I've had people email me saying, how can you do love, pray, listen for your adult parents, you know, and love, pray, listen for your friendships that are going sour.

And because it's just, it's widely applicable. What does it do to a wayward child when they see their parent, you know, being positive and going on with their lives, even though they know that their parents are hurt, they've shared all of that, but they see them thriving. What does that do to that adult child? I think whenever you demonstrate joy and you demonstrate fidelity and you demonstrate all those characteristics, it shouts a lot louder than the words that you say. One of my children came to me once and said, you know, and they were out of the house by this time, but they said, you know, when dad lost his job for that long period of time, you never denigrated him or anything like that.

And they just watched it. They watched us love each other through a very stressful transition. And, you know, that was not like I sat down with my adult kids and said, okay, kids, now here's the way that you deal with losing a job with your spouse. And we just demonstrated what, hopefully how Jesus would have, I mean, hopefully how he would have us respond to each other. And so, yes, thriving and while walking after Jesus is a, it shouts louder than any word you can say. Well, Mary, we're coming to the end of our time together today. Let me just ask you this.

Talk to the parent out there who has a wayward child and they've been listening to us. What's the last encouraging words that you'd like to share with them? You're not alone. The Lord has not forsaken you. He is good. He will carry you through this. You are deeply and profoundly led and loved by Him. And I have, at slash lpl, I do have 52 prayers. So a prayer a week that you can pray with fill in blanks for your adult children. So if you're struggling with that, you can pick that up for free.

Give that website again. It's slash lpl, which stands for Love, Pray, Listen. Well, Mary, let me thank you for being with us today.

And I really do believe that this book is going to help many, many parents who are going through the struggles of a wayward child. So thank you for being with us today. Thank you for what you're doing. Thanks so much.

It's been great. Again, the title of our featured resource is Love, Pray, Listen, Parenting Your Wayward Adult Kids with Joy, written by Mary Demuth. Find out more at Again, And next week, we take a look at how Jesus saw the seekers, the sinners, and the doubters of His life. Well, sounds like an extension of our conversation today. Well, big thank you to our production team, Steve Wick and Janice Backing. Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman is a production of Moody Radio in Chicago, in association with Moody Publishers, a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. Thanks for listening.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-11 16:53:43 / 2023-03-11 17:11:43 / 18

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime