Wait faithfully. Ask God to help you overcome impatience as you wait for your prodigal child to return to Him and you. Understand that, because it took time for your child to get into trouble in the first place, it will likely take some time for him or her to get out of trouble. Know that true and lasting character transformation requires wisdom that can only come about from patiently dealing with painful experiences. Give your child time to sort out his or her failures. Wait to see what God wants to do in his or her life. Rather than struggling with the silence while you wait, embrace it by listening and praying in the midst of it.

Recognize the value in a crisis. View each crisis you go through as an opportunity to learn and grow stronger. Let crises teach you not take anything in life for granted. Be grateful for every blessing you have – even the simplest ones – and give up trying to control what you can’t control. As your prodigal child’s attitudes or behaviors expose ugliness in your own life (such as negativity, self-indulgence, or a tendency to avoid problems), honestly examine those issues and pursue healing for them.

Gain a new perspective. Ask God to give you fresh insight into yourself and a bigger view of your prodigal child’s life. Realize that your child will probably have plenty of opportunities to change over time. Give up your emotional investment in getting the outcome you’ve imagined, and decide to trust God to bring about the outcome He has planned. Thank God for making you a better person through your challenges and suffering. Ask Him to use any means necessary to build strong character in your prodigal child. Notice all the ways God is intervening in your life right now, even if you still haven’t received answers for some of your most heartfelt prayers about your child. Pray for God to give you a glimpse of the future blessings He has in store for both you and your prodigal child. Understand that your child is not a final product right now, but a work in progress. Ask God to help you relax through the process of change that must occur over time.

Prepare for the possibility that your child may not return. Face the reality that there’s no guarantee your prodigal child will return to God or to you, because he or she has free will. Continue to pray for your child as long as he or she is alive. But if the worst happens and your child dies without returning, realize that you must let go of him or her and move on with your life. Don’t let the tragedy prevent you from experiencing joy in other ways. Trust God to give you the peace you need. Give your energy to people who can receive it.

Prepare for a return. Be ready to celebrate if your prodigal child returns. But don’t expect a complete return right away, realizing that it will likely take time and occur in stages. Don’t smother your returning child by trying to force your will on him or her. Instead, simply offer forgiveness and unconditional love, with God’s help. Maintain respect for your child’s right to choose his or her own path. If your child relapses into rebellious decisions, just take one scenario at a time and do whatever is required to deal wisely with it. Walk with your child through his or her brokenness, and remember that God is walking alongside both of you. Ask God to help you deal with unresolved feelings over your child’s time away (such as your hurt over cruel words that your child said, or shame when you remember all that led up to your child’s departure). Rely on God’s help to work through any unfinished business between you and your child. Be patient and remember that God isn’t finished with either or you as people yet.