Parenting and Prodigals



For years I read the story of the Prodigal Son, and I never could get a handle on why the father celebrated greatly when his son returned. I have always felt I had more in common with the son who stayed home.

Until you are in the position of having a prodigal child, it is hard to relate to how the father felt in this Bible story.

Christians tend to not share when they are struggling or when their kids are struggling. When we need support the most, we withdraw. We put on a happy face. We don’t want to be judged, so we hold it in with a brave face.

If you are in this situation, you are not alone. There are probably parents close to you who are in the same situation, and they are holding it in, too. God is with you, too. He is the constant source of peace and hope for you.

Now that I find myself in the position as a parent of a prodigal, I am understanding the father and his love for his son more. I am understanding God’s love for us more, too. Every one of us does things to hurt God, and yet He loves us anyway. He loves us despite our failures, short-comings, and sins.

Moms of Prodigals


What a club to be in if your child is a prodigal.


You often do not know where your child is.

Are they safe?

Did they eat?

Are they warm?

Do they have shoes and a coat?

Are they dry?


You don’t know what emotional landmines you will hit.

A trip to the grocery store and see their favorite food or snack.

When someone asks how your child is.

When the sight of someone reminds you of them and you strain to see if it is them.

When you talk to people who have seen them recently and are concerned.

When you fold their laundry and clean their room.

You look for pieces of the child you knew and raised.


You pray.

You wonder what you could have done differently.

You forget to eat, forget to drink, and don’t sleep soundly.


When you lock the door at night and remember they won’t be here.

When you come home and look for their car and realize it won’t be there.

When all that is left is your faith and your prayers.

You do the next thing.

You take the next breath.

You move forward because you have other children who need you.

You cry.


Not many people talk about this club.

It’s painful and gut wrenching.

You pray for the next call.

You pray for their safety.

You pray they come back to God and to you.

You pray it never happens to another family, but you know that you can walk beside them if it does.

Even when you know where they are but are separated from you, your heart cries out for them. It longs to be restored with them.

Their place at the table sits empty. A glaring reminder that they are not there.


Sometimes you do know where they are, and it is not where you would have wanted them to be. You pray without ceasing for their protection and for restoration.


Some of these children will make decisions that you cannot blame yourself or take responsibility. If they are an adult, they have to stand on their own two feet and accept responsibility for their decisions.


Have mercy on us each day, Lord.

As I await the return of my prodigal, I have cleaned his room, washed his clothes, prayed for him, and look forward to the day that he comes home.

There will be bumps along the way in his return, but I know he will return. I have prayed for him since he was in my womb. I read Scripture to him from a small child. I have watched him memorize Bible verses. I know it is in him, and he will be back. I have faith. When he comes home, I will be ready with open arms.

I do know where he is today, and I know that he is healing, too. God uses all things for good.

While this is his story, it is also my story. If you find yourself in this situation as a parent or child, reach out to others. Don’t shut people out. Don’t worry about being judged. You might be surprised at the people who have been through this, too.


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About Tami

Tami Fox is a homeschool mom of 6, who in age from 26 to 11. She and her husband have homeschooled for 17 years and have graduated three of their children from their homeschool. They are currently homeschooling 3 boys who are in grades 11, 9, and 6. They use hands-on learning and unit studies to ignite the fire of learning in their children. Tami is a homeschool author and conference speaker. You can contact her by email at Buy her book, Giving Your Children Wings at


Parenting and Prodigals — 14 Comments

  1. Oh Tami, I’m sorry for what you and your family are going through! You are so brave to share it. I think sometimes us homeschoolers think we are building in special protection against situations like this, but, really, it can happen to anyone. I love that you are reminding yourself, though, of the foundation that you laid in his heart:). It is still there. I’m keeping you all in prayer for comfort and a speedy return.

    • Thank you! I appreciate your prayers. The past month has been one of the hardest times we have gone through. We are seeing God work in our lives through this.

      Blessings! Tami

  2. Praying for you. We don’t have a prodigal, but our oldest just went to college and has distanced herself from us. It hurts and is so scary. I pray for her. I’m thankful she knows the Lord and pray someday she will want to have a relationship with me.

    • Praying for her, too. The years between 18 and 22 are hard for many young adults and their parents. Praying for you during this time. Thank you for your prayers for us!

      Blessings! Tami

  3. Thank you for posting. I am concerned for a teen of my own right now. Still home..still a bit too young, but seeing the pull away..I am certain this article is just what another mom needs to read/print it out and be reminded that she is not alone. Thank you for being real. May God give you peace in the waiting, restoration with your son…God Bless, Victoria

  4. I will be praying for you and your family, Tami. You are helping so many parents by sharing your struggles. Thank you for being brave enough.

  5. “Have mercy on us each day, Lord.”

    And this, more than anything, is what we can count on. And from now until forever, you’ll find that you have infinitely more mercy and compassion for others in hard places. But for now, just try to breathe.

    No one ever tells you in advance that having children opens you up to both the greatest joy and the greatest sorrow possible, but it’s true. There are times when I ponder Mary at the foot of the cross, and I am in awe. May you walk through each day in the peace and comfort of your heavenly Father.

  6. We have a son who has turned away from God. He lives close and stays in contact but he lives with a girlfriend which is another hard situation. Every time my heart is broken and I pray I hear God so clearly say that He has this situation and knows my son better than I do. It is a rough part of the journey but one that we will pray through to the other side! I will pray for your son as I pray for mine.

  7. This summer I came across the book Done With Crying – it’s about parents of estranged children. It was heart wrenching to read. Praying for your family, Tami!

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