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Question:
Our 27 year old son has pursued his ministry calling for 15 years. He got married and since a short time after, he has not been the same son. A lot has happened but bottom line is, we feel he now says and does hurtful and disrespectful things to the rest of our family. We have not spoken with him in 6 months. He attends a Christian graduate school. I have sent presents and cards to try to mend the situation. Should we try to contact him or just keep praying that God will do His work in their lives. We are ready and willing to forgive their behavior. I want my family to be whole again. What’s your advice?

Answer:

Having ongoing family discord is always tough. It’s something that you are constantly reminded of every minute of the day. It can really eat at you and I’m sorry you’re dealing with it.

First, other than extreme situations, it’s never wrong or bad to continue to be kind (sending gifts and cards), to try and contact the disenfranchised family member (as long as it is not aggressive, comes with strings attached; or for the purpose of continually rebuking them or putting them on a guilt trip) and to gently and consistently try to restore the relationship.

I would continue to try and contact him at the same times you would NORMALLY contact him if things were normal and happy. If he sees that you still continue to love him and treat him as a son even though he is not reciprocating, perhaps he will be convicted of his unloving behavior.

Now, it may very well be that there are things going on in their marital relationship that are causing him to avoid you. It might be embarrassment over the state of the marriage; it might be pressure from the spouse or spouses family. It might be some sin or situation you are unaware of that affecting his behavior.

It could also be that in his mind YOU are the problem. Obviously I don’t know anything more about you than what is in your question, so I urge you and your spouse to be very honest about your own contribution to the situation and make sure that you are not at fault some how as well.

Assuming you are not, I would continue to treat them as if you would treat any of your children in a normal situation. Let him, and her, know that you love them, you miss them and you are there for them if they need you.

Human nature being what it is though, you must emotionally prepare yourself to accept that he is an adult, he struggles with sin, he has pressures and stresses… just like you, just like me.

So he may not be responsive. It may get worse. It may never resolve.

You are not in control and no matter how much you long for the restoration of your family, your children are not robots. Just like we do all the time with God, your children may not choose to be “good” to us.

My advice is to continue to call just to say you love them and are thinking about them. Send cards, send gifts. Expect nothing in return knowing that God will honor your loving sacrifice. Trust that God will get into their hearts and restore the relationship with you BUT know that even if that doesn’t happen, God will cause the situation to work for your good and His glory. He promises that (Rom 8.28)

Should you keep praying? Well of course you know that answer to that.

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