When Your Girl Goes Wild
Taming a prodigal daughter requires patience and determination ... and a whole lot of prayer.
In the new book Daughters Gone Wild, Dads Gone Crazy, Charles Stone and his daughter Heather talk about surviving Heather's prodigal experience. They offer this advice to fathers on the edge:
1. Don't panic at the first signs of trouble. The first time your daughter comes home late from a date, wears pants that look like someone airbrushed them on or gets her body pierced in other-than-ear-lobe locations, don't panic. Things aren't as bad as you may think.
2. When you're ticked off, don't let words become weapons. If you both have strong wills, you may try to get the last word in. When your anger tempts you to say something you'll regret, count to 10. Better yet, count to 100.
3. Make the tough calls ... even when it hurts. Tough love will hurt initially, but it may offer the only protection from long-term damage to you, your daughter or your relationship. If you must make a difficult call, do so carefully with the help of wise friends.
4. When love languishes, stoke the relationship fire. If shame tells you to close your heart to your daughter, pray that God will stir up the emotional embers. Expect to shed a few tears in the process.
5. Reconnect through gifts from the heart. Give your daughter small tokens of love even when she doesn't deserve them. They can add relational oxygen to your relationship when you need it most. Remember, we don't deserve Jesus' gift of forgiveness either.
6. Laugh between the tears. Find ways to laugh with your daughter, but never at her. If she won't laugh with you, laugh anyway. Laughter can soften the edges of rebellion.
7. Choose your battles wisely (and lose some on purpose). On purpose, let your daughter win a few battles that don't really matter. It never hurts to swallow your pride.
8. Never lose hope. Even though your relationship may be on life-support, don't pull the plug by withdrawing hope. When hope dies, the relationship dies.
9. Soften your prodigal's re-entry. When your daughter begins her trek back to your family and faith, balance your expectations. Though your relationship will improve, you'll still need to give lots of latitude.