"I’ve been called for a purpose, and God has had His hand on me," singer Katy Perry told GO! Magazine when she was seventeen years old. Her parents, Keith and Mary Hudson, are church-planters, evangelists, and pastors.

Now 23, Perry is the voice behind I KISSED A GIRL, a "bi-curious" pop single that's rocketed to the top of the charts, and UR SO GAY, a song that relies on gay stereotyping to express what some have called the singer's "girl power."

Perry also recently cleared up rumors about her ring: "I'm definitely not a virgin!" she said. "[People] think the promise ring means no sex! No, the promise ring is just a promise that he'll get me another ring. A better ring! Seriously, it's not one of those 'no sex' promise rings. That kind of went out the window when I was 17 years old."

Perry isn't unusual when it comes to moving away from her parents' values. Many young people raised in Christian homes reject their parents' faith and morals during their early twenties. Research by the Barna group reveals that "twentysomethings continue to be the most spiritually independent and resistant age group in America."

So what can parents of straying young adults do? Some try to speak into their children's lives with words of wisdom, cashing in the "influence capital" they banked through the easier years. But staying connected isn't easy -- is celebrating any success of a prodigal the equivalent of parental approval? Others threaten to withdraw financial or emotional support as a consequence, hoping to force their kids to "do the right thing."

Basically, there's not much else to do. Except wait and hope and pray and love, which is probably what the Hudsons (Katy Perry's parents) are doing. H. Norman Wright, author of Loving a Prodigal (Chariot Victor Books), recommends a process of grieving, seeking support, and surrender: 

After a while, I think parents simply have to relinquish their child and give him or her to God. This should be the first thing we do, but for many parents, we'll exhaust our own resources before recognizing that God will be the one to bring change. You almost have to detach yourself from the child and realize that you can't control him and bring him back.

Katy Perry was recently quoted in Entertainment Weekly as saying, "I got this Jesus tattoo on my wrist when I was 18, because I know that it's (religion) always going to be a part of me. When I'm playing, it's staring right back at me, saying, 'Remember where you came from.'"

I'm sure her parents are praying that she will.


Mitali Perkins is the author of Ambassador Families: Equipping Your Kids to Engage Popular Culture (Brazos Press). She studied Political Science at Stanford University and Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley, and has written for Christianity Today, Discipleship Journal, Campus Life, With, Prism, War Cry, U.S. Catholic, and other periodicals. Mitali also writes fiction for young readers, including Monsoon Summer (Random House), The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen (Little Brown), Rickshaw Girl (Charlesbridge), and the First Daughter books (Dutton). She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and twin sons. Visit Mitali's Blog, Ambassador Families.