I'm a single mother of three teenagers, and have been a faithful and dedicated disciple for 10 years. (My children's father is not at all involved in their life.) I have a 19-year-old son who became a disciple of Jesus when he was 14. His character is one of not taking responsibility for his walk with God and refusing to grow up. He has attention deficit disorder and takes medication every day to stay focused at school. He has not been putting much effort into his spiritual life since he left high school, even though a lot of friends at church have tried to help him take responsibility. In fact, my son has been involved in some serious sins over this past year: lying, impurity with a girlfriend, and finally theft. Because of these sins, he was asked not to come to church, and he has been very humble about the whole situation. He is trying to figure everything out, even though he is, I think, depressed about being excluded. I have asked my son to move out on his own so he can grow up and become a man. (We have a good relationship, and I believe he feels loved -- and forgiven -- by me). When his medication wears off in the early evening, all he wants to do is sleep. He is feeling very overwhelmed and told me he thinks he should just go to jail because he feels he "cannot make it out here." I have talked to him about godly sorrow, God's discipline, not having "pity parties," and also the need to trust God. What would your advice be to help my son gain some godly convictions about what is happening to him, and also for me not to enable him in his weakness of avoiding challenges and difficult situations?

You are in a very hard position. It must be overwhelming. And I am just an outsider--I cannot give really good advice without knowing you and him and being there. Local brothers and sisters are so much more likely to give you accurate information. Still, I have a couple of thoughts. I think it is very good that you have asked him to live on his own. This is probably a key step in his maturing and taking responsibility. If he shares sad, forlorn thoughts, I would try not to let them affect you. And if, in the past, you have interfered by letting yourself be manipulated, this may be quite a wake-up call for him. Anyway, I think you did the right thing. Stand firm!

As for your role as mother, the book to read is Parenting Adolescents, by Kevin Huggins. It is very, very helpful. Another one to consider is Parenting on Your Own, by Lynda Hunter. (My wife and I have also written a parenting book, entitled Principle-Centered Parenting, formerly called The Quiver: Christian Parenting in a Non-Christian World.)

Bottom line, your son needs to keep developing his own faith. His appetite for the word of God needs whetting, and there is only so much that others can do to help him. You do your part, and pray--and trust your son to do his part.

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