What to Do if Your Child Has Walked Away from the Faith

ince the first episode of my podcast Christian Parent/Crazy World, we have been discussing how to help our kids stand strong in the faith. We’ve tackled tough parenting questions like:

Is Christianity Just a Religion of Do’s and Don’ts?

Is Scripture Just a Book Written By Some Ancient Dead Guys?

And a four-part series on worldviews culminating with this question: How Does the Christian Worldview Create the World We All Want to Live in?

Christian Parent Crazy World banner adIn a recent article, “Christian Kids Are Leaving the Faith, What Can We Do About It?” I highlight some startling statistics which show that a majority of kids raised in Christian homes are leaving the faith. A shocking study in the book Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do To Stop It indicates that of the children who do walk away from the faith, up to 90% begin that progression in the middle and high school years. The goal of Christian Parent/Crazy World is to solidify the faith in the hearts and minds of our kids before they leave the nest.

In the latest episode of CP/CW, I tackle this vital question by offering nine steps that you can take if your child has walked away from the faith. This article covers the first seven steps. If your child has walked away from the faith, consider these recommendations:

  1. Love your child as God does. Love them unconditionally.
    In Scripture, we learn that God’s salvation requires a confession of faith and repentance. But God’s love requires nothing from us. Nothing at all. We don’t have to do one thing for God to love us. We can break every rule in the Book. We can live a life of unbelief, of disregard, or even disdain for God and His ways. We can be an absolute reprobate, squandering every gift and hurting others in the process—and God will still love us.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:35-39)

If God’s love requires nothing from us, our love for our kids must require nothing from them. And they need to know that. They need to feel that Godly, unconditional love from us. If they never do another good or right thing in their life, they need to know that we still love them. Our love must not require performance, or rule-keeping, or righteous living or agreement with what we believe. Because God’s love doesn’t require any of that.

The Bible tells us that the Good Shepherd will leave the 99 little lambs who are living right, who are in the fold, who are ministering and using their gifts for God’s glory, in order to go and find the one who is wandering.

Our love for our kids needs to pursue them as God does. Requiring nothing. Loving them exactly where they are. Unconditionally.

  1. Stop with the blame game.
    When something goes wrong in life, we are tempted to start pointing fingers. But when a child walks away from the faith, a faith that you tried to impart to them, we need to put the blame where it belongs and not where it doesn’t.

Where should we not put the blame?

Stop blaming yourself. Were you too lenient? Were you too legalistic? Did you not teach them enough? Did you preach at them too much? Chances are you erred on one side of these fault lines. We all do.

Did you fail to do something that you didn’t know you needed to do? Did you fail to protect or train them in some way? Did your own faults create some wounds in your child? Ah… yes, yes, and yes. I can answer “yes” to all of those questions already, and I have yet to graduate my first child. We all miss the mark in our parenting.

Whether your adult or adolescent kids are walking with the Lord or not, you didn’t parent perfectly because you aren’t perfect. We are all human and we make mistakes in our parenting. No one parents perfectly except God.

Rest in the fact that God is the perfect parent, and allow Him to make up for where you fell short. That is what grace is for, so give yourself some grace.

Also, stop blaming your child.

Yes, they have rejected what you taught them. They have rejected the faith, and they may be accumulating a healthy list of don’ts on the do’s and don’t list. That list doesn’t procure our salvation, btw. It keeps us safe.

Blaming your child for all their mistakes won’t accomplish anything good, and it certainly won’t encourage them to return to God. Or to you.

If your child has walked away from the faith, you need to place the blame where it does belong. That is on the enemy, the great liar and deceiver. Get mad at him. Not yourself and not your child. Refuse to put the blame anywhere else, because it won’t do you or your child any good.

  1. Recognize that you are in a battle.