When your grown child does bad

QUESTION: In Mathew 18:6 It says that if you cause a little one to sin it would be better if you drowned yourself. What exactly does that mean? I feel like I am to blame for son’s troubles. I can’t turn my back on my son and I love him. I feel responsible, but I don’t want to enable him. I don’t want to give up hope, but I keep getting disappointed. Will I be punished for screwing up my son’s life? How can I reconcile all these mixed emotions? What can I do for him? I know that at some time he is responsible for his own actions, but what about the fact that I screwed him up so bad?

RESPONSE: Your love and grief for him is commendable, but to really be of use to him it is also going to have to be tough and clear-headed.

What I am about to says is abrupt, blunt and hard to do but it is best for him and you.

Yes, sinful decisions in your life outside of Christ caused harmful effects. That’s why Christ died on the cross to atone for our sins.

You can’t fix the harmful effects. Only Christ can when people are willing to let Him.

Christ doesn’t talk about children sinning in Matthew 18:6. He says, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believes (trusts, relies) in Me to stumble” (from trust in and reliance on Christ). People who cause that are better off, well, to let that aspect of themselves die completely and to come alive to Christ.

He isn’t in jail now because of what you did or failed to do when he was a teen or because of psychological issues. We were all raised by flawed parents. We all have psychological defects.

He with full personal responsibility was willfully choosing to commit evil acts.

Don’t give him the slightest rationalization that will allow him to let himself off the hook for his sins, to think they aren’t wrong or aren’t his fault.

The best thing about what has just happened to him is that one of those acts was something that society as-a-whole believes ought to be stopped and that he got caught doing it.

It is best because it shows that God cares enough about him to give him one more teachable opportunity. (Hebrews 12:6-8)

Only when he willingly lets Christ run his life is real progress going to happen.

Ask God for boldness and a chance to talk faith in Christ into him or to send someone else to do it.

Pray for him to trust himself to Christ and to get nailed every time he doesn’t.

Recruit others to pray for him.

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