What About You? Have You Been Lost And Found?
What does the parable of the lost son have to do with your child? The fact that God loves them, forgives them, and celebrates with them just like the father in the story! I hope you will take the time to simply enjoy reading The Lost Son and Me with your child. Let the story sink in, let your child ask questions and tell you their reactions to the story. Read it many times over till your child is familiar with the story. Then you can start using the discussion questions. Many of the questions in this book dive pretty deeply into mistakes, bad choices, forgiveness by God and our forgiveness of others. This story is incredibly relevant to our children today as they face the many pressures of the world. We all want our children to know the love of God and to have the strength to stand up for the choices they make. But we also realize they will fall at times, they will make bad choices and we want them to know at those times that they are just as loved and forgiveness is always available to them.
Life Lessons from The Lost Son and Me
As children of God, we have an inheritance.
In the story of the lost son, the inheritance was money and the son took it, left, and then wasted it on foolish things. What is our inheritance from God? Eternal Life! Love! Peace! Joy! Strength! Can we waste this inheritance while in this world? The world has become a very materialistic place. A place where we can order anything we want and get it delivered to us or downloaded instantly which helps us relate to this story of the lost son who is so eager to have wealth NOW. As a parent, what do you think is the most important thing you can leave with your child? Is it a thing, like a valuable heirloom, a home, financial security? Is it a memory of times spent together, vacations, dinners, game nights, hiking a trail, playing at the beach, snuggling on the couch with popcorn as you watch a movie? Is it a character trait like kindness, responsibility, determination, compassion, self-control? Could it be your Christian belief, your faith, your commitment to following Jesus? All of this can make for great talks with your kids. Make sure your children know they are a child of God and therefore are heirs to all His many gifts! The story of The Lost Son and Me is a great way to do just that!
We will make bad choices occasionally.
Yep! It is going to happen, and it will keep happening. Human nature I suppose, we like to push the limits to find out just what we can get away with and what we can’t. Temptations are there and sometimes they get the best of us. Knowing that we have a God who understands that and is willing to forgive us and help us move toward making better choices, helps us not be so hard on ourselves (and others). Use The Lost Son and Me to start conversations with your children about those things that seem to keep tripping them up. Share with them the choices you struggled with as a kid, young adult, and even now. Talk with them about some ways to be prepared the next time they are tempted to make that same bad choice again. Let them know you are rooting for them to overcome those temptations, and that God is too! They have people on their side, people that don’t expect them to be perfect, people that are ready to forgive them when they make mistakes. And not only people, but also God!
Things will not always be fair, at least not from our perspective.
Wow! How many of us have felt exactly like that older brother in the story? “It’s not fair!” And how many of us as parents have heard those same words coming from the mouths of our kids. Because you know what, life isn’t fair. Sometimes we are led (or like) to believe that if we live for our God, striving to be like Jesus, our lives will just be happy, happy, joy, joy! But it just isn’t the case. When I taught elementary school, I always had a sign posted in my room that read “Fair doesn’t mean everyone gets the same thing, it means everyone gets what they need.” The older brother didn’t need to learn the lesson the younger son did, instead he needed to learn a lesson on forgiveness. When you hear those famous words “that isn’t fair, it just isn’t fair!”, come back to this story. Remind your kids that the father was helping the older brother learn an important lesson to help him. Maybe God is trying to help you grow just like the brother in the story. What can they possibly learn from what they are going through? Is it forgiveness like the older brother? As a parent, it is easiest to say, “You’re right! It isn’t fair” and leave it at that. Next time, spend some time talking with your child and see if there isn’t something you both can learn from the unfairness of life.
God celebrates with us!
Now who doesn’t love a party! Your children most likely look forward to celebrating their birthday each and every year. Time with friends who are there just to let your kids know they care about them. This story brings us a great opportunity to talk with your kids about times you have celebrated them – ice cream for good grades, taking them bowling for earning a good character award, as simple even as a lollipop for sitting nicely during a haircut. Talk about how it makes them feel when someone notices their good behavior, sweet manners, awesome attitude. It is great to be recognized for doing well. In the story of the lost son, the father threw a party for his son who had chosen to do wrong, realized it and came back home. Not a party for being awesome, amazing, breaking records, or even working extra hard, but for returning after wasting all his money. The father celebrates the son realizing his mistake and coming back to apologize and face the consequences. As a child, I know that I did my best to hide my mistakes from my parents – especially if the consequences meant a punishment of some sort. Use this book to have some great conversations with your child about fessing up to their mistakes and using those bad choices as learning opportunities to make better choices next time. Remind them that Jesus told this story so we would all know exactly how God feels about our mistakes and forgiveness. If you really want to make an impression with your child, you can even plan a party the next time your child does something wrong, realizes it, and apologizes all on their own.