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Lesson 8: Season of Parenting *

Introduction: I recently had a great moment in life. It was Mother's Day! My wife, daughter, and granddaughter were in the house. My daughter was unhappy because of an interaction with my granddaughter. It reminded me of when my daughter was unhappy with her mother (or me) for very similar reasons. I had to chuckle. The irony was great. Parenting is a grand opportunity for parents to better understand their relationship to God and to instill in their children a love and understanding of God. It is a limited time opportunity, and the stakes could not be higher. Let's dive into the Bible and see what we can learn about parenting!

  1. Parenting Challenges

    1. Read Luke 15:11-12. Does anything seem wrong about this request? (Many things are wrong. First, the father is not dead. Second, this is the younger son, so he should be the last to request property. Third, who is in charge? Certainly not the younger son. Last, this son is so impatient that he desires a time when his father is dead.)

      1. What do you say about the father's response? (He let his son be his own master.)

      2. How would you respond? Would you be angry that your son does not want to be around you and wants to treat you as if you had died?

      3. Would you tell your son that if he wants to be independent, he needs to go to work to be independent - not depend on what you have earned?

        1. Does this teach us anything about parenting? (A critical point here is that the son is an adult.)

        2. Should we give our children things we know are not good for them?

        3. Would this son have learned anything by sitting impatiently at home?

      4. Notice that the father "divided his wealth." It appears that he also gave his older son his share, which would be twice that of the younger son. (See Deuteronomy 21:17.) What does this teach us? (We should not neglect the child who is obedient.)

    2. Read Luke 15:13-14. Do you think the father anticipated this? If so, why would he throw his money away?

      1. Does the son have an excuse for his problems? (He could have blamed his failure on the "severe famine.")

    3. Read Luke 15:15-16. Has a Jew who wishes to eat pig food hit the bottom?

    4. Read Luke 15:17. "He came to his senses." What taught the son the lesson that the father was unable to teach?

      1. Read Proverbs 22:6. Does the "come to his senses" moment reflect this proverb?

        1. Will every child come to his (her) senses at some point in life? (In the sad story of Samson he did not come to his senses until the day he died. Judges 16.)

    5. Look again at Luke 15:17. If the father had not been a success, would this son have learned his lesson? (His father was modeling what it means to be sensible and diligent about your work.)

    6. Read Luke 15:18-19. What attitudes have changed in this son? (First, he comes to realize that he has sinned. Instead of thinking that his interests come first, and he should be able to tell his father what to do, he now has a change of heart about his worth. He no longer feels entitled.)

    7. Luke 15:20-22. The son gives the confession that he had been planning. Did he get it all out? (No. If you compare Luke 15:19, you see that the son has not gotten to "make me like one of your servants." The father interrupted him!)

      1. How would you characterize the attitude of the father?

      2. What lesson about parenting do we learn here? (Instant forgiveness and love.)

      3. What if you respond, "I keep forgiving and loving my child, but he never learns?" What does this story teach you? (It was the failure of the son that caused him to come to his senses. If you keep supporting wrong choices, your child will be less likely to repent.)

    8. Read Luke 15:23-24. Why reward the sinner? What parenting lesson does this teach us? (The father is rewarding the return. He is rewarding repentance. Parents should put the mistakes of their children behind them and not keep bringing them up. Instead, they should encourage and reward right behavior.)

      1. If you were the son, how would you react to your father right now? (My heart would be filled with gratitude and love. The father's reaction is so much more positive than he had imagined.)

    9. Read Luke 15:25-28. Do you sympathize with the older, faithful brother?

      1. What does the father's reaction teach us about parenting? (You care about all of your children. He takes time for the older son.)

    10. Read Luke 15:29. How would you react if you were the father? (This is a slap in the face. Working with his father is like slavery!)

      1. How would you be tempted to react to the older son? (The older son shows a real lack of love for his brother. He shows a completely improper attitude towards his father. Both of these sons are "problem children.")

    11. Read Luke 15:30. Does the older son wish he had done what the younger son did? Is his attitude the same, he just lacked the courage to do it? (Losing money and immoral behavior harm you. The older brother looks on this like it was some sort of advantage.)

    12. Read Luke 15:31-32. How does the father answer the charges against him? (You are not slaving for me, you own everything.)

      1. Have both sons brought grief to their father? Have both wrongly accused him? (Yes!)

        1. What parenting lessons can we learn from these false charges? (It is not always easy to be a parent.)

    13. This is a parable. Who does the father represent? (God the Father.)

      1. What does that teach us about parenting? (We are sinful humans. We are not God. But, this story gives us parenting goals.)

      2. Is this an example of a single parent? (Let's turn to that next.)

  2. Single Parents

    1. Read 1 Kings 17:7 for background. What does this tell you is going on? (A famine.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 17:8-9. Do God's directions always make sense? Why go to a widow for food?

    3. Read 1 Kings 17:10-12. Now what do you say about God's instructions?

    4. Read 1 Kings 17:13. Is Elijah being selfish? Is he saying, feed me first, and then "do as you have said," which is that she and her son will eat and then die?

      1. Would you obey the prophet?

    5. Read 1 Kings 17:14-16. What parenting lessons do we find here? (We need to obey God even when it does not make sense to us. We need to trust that God is the author of the impossible.)

    6. Read 1 Kings 17:17-18. How is this single mother behaving now? (Apparently she has some serious sin issue in her past. Her charges against Elijah are unreasonable.)

    7. Read 1 Kings 17:19-22. Now, even the prophet seems to be making false charges against God! What lesson from this story do we learn about parenting? (As long as we are still looking to God, He will not leave us even if we are being unreasonable. We should have the same attitude when our children are unreasonable.)

    8. Friend, if you are a parent, will you ask the Holy Spirit, right now, to fill you with the proper attitudes that we have studied this week?

  3. Next week: Times of Loss.
* Copr. 2019, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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