Throughout my years in ministry, I’ve had quite a bit of people ask me to pray for their children because either their children don’t call them, don’t visit them anymore or simply don’t want anything to do with them.
The Bible predicted this time would come: Malachi 4:6 says, “And He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers.”
I’ve always looked at this last text of the Old Testament right before Jesus came the first time, as being symbolic of what will happen right before Jesus comes back again the second time.
It says that the hearts of the fathers will be turned towards their children and the hearts of the children will be turned towards their fathers.
If there ever was a time where there needs to be a reconciliation of parents to their children and children to their parents then that time is now.
I do believe in the power of prayer and in praying for our children. I do pray for my daughter and take comfort in knowing that others also are praying for her.
But there’s also other aspects of reconciliation that this text brings out that I believe we should take heed to as well.
First of all, I want us to focus on the order of how things work in this text. It is the fathers whose hearts turn towards their children first. And then it is the children whose hearts turn towards their fathers next.
In other words, it’s the parents who should initiate the love and reconciliation towards their children first. And then when the children see and experience the parents love and reconciliation towards them, they will respond by wanting to have reconciliation and love towards their parents.
This is really just the gospel. The parents relationship to their children is just representative of God’s relationship towards us. God does not expect us to initiate love towards Him so that He will respond back to us. No, this is works oriented. Instead, God initiates love toward us first and then we respond with love back to Him.
This is clearly seen in I John 4:19, “We love him, because He first loved us”
So it is always the parents responsibility to initiate love, healing and reconciliation towards their children and not the other way around.
Sometimes parents hold resentment and bitterness towards their children. But this is not how God treats us. He doesn’t hold bitterness or resentment towards us, no matter what we’ve done. He still reaches out to us even when we keep rejecting His love. This is also how we should reach out towards our children, as well as to others.
I really don’t have to go far on this one as over the years, keeping a good relationship with my daughter has been very challenging for me. It is through my daughter that the Lord has taught me in a practical way more of what unconditional love looks like.
It was especially hard when my daughter was from the ages of 11-15. There were times where there was a huge wall between us and I felt like I would never have that emotional connection with her that I longed for.
But it was when I became more aware of how controlling I was towards her that I realized that I was the one who had built up a wall around her heart against me. When I finally saw this and saw how God doesn’t act controlling towards me, I began to change and my relationship with my daughter has only gotten stronger since. She is 18 now and I currently cherish the close relationship we have developed! I love her and I’m grateful to God for the connection we now have.
I do think that a lot of the reason why our children don’t want nothing to do with us is not so much because they are just bad people but maybe because we have wrongly treated them and we have killed their love for us in their hearts. The harsh methods may have been for good reasons in wanting them to be saved or of doing what is right but if we are using the wrong motives and methods of control and fear rather than the motives and methods of unconditional love and freewill, then we are working against the Holy Spirit.
It is interesting that this text only talks about the hearts of the fathers to be turned towards the children and not the hearts of the fathers and mothers to be turned towards the children.
It’s almost as if this text predicted ahead of time the hardness of us men’s hearts towards our children during these times that we are living in.
You see, most of the people who have asked me for prayer for their estranged children were men.
A current study has shown that 6% of adult children are estranged from their mothers while 26% of adult children are estranged from their fathers. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jomf.12898
So 1 in 4 adults are estranged from their fathers. Now to me that’s a lot. This is sad especially when we understand the unhealthy effects of not having a father present in one’s life.
Statistics show that if a child grows up in a fatherless home it increases crime. In the UK, studies have shown that “children from broken homes are nine times more likely to commit crimes than those from stable families” https://dads4kids.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/FACTS-ON-FATHERLESSNESS.pdf
Fatherless homes also increases drug abuse. A US study found that among the homes with fathers, only 18 per cent had children who used alcohol or drugs at all. In contrast, among mother-only homes, 35 per cent had children who used drugs frequently. https://dads4kids.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/FACTS-ON-FATHERLESSNESS.pdf
Fatherless homes also increases sexual problems. A US study found that girls who grow up without fathers were “53 percent more likely to marry as teenagers, 111 percent more likely to have children as teenagers, 164 percent more likely to have a premarital birth, and 92 percent more likely to dissolve their own marriages.” https://dads4kids.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/FACTS-ON-FATHERLESSNESS.pdf
Fatherless homes also increases physical and mental health problems. A Canadian study of teenagers discharged from psychiatric hospitals found that only 16 per cent were living with both parents when they were admitted. https://dads4kids.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/FACTS-ON-FATHERLESSNESS.pdf
Fatherless homes also increases physical and sexual abuse. A study found that 15.5 children out of 1000 children were mistreated in married-parent families, whereas 27.3 children per 1000 were mistreated in single-parent families. https://dads4kids.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/FACTS-ON-FATHERLESSNESS.pdf
Fatherless homes also increases poverty and lowers educational performance. https://dads4kids.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/FACTS-ON-FATHERLESSNESS.pdf
Whether the father is not present because of a divorce or because they are estranged from their children, it doesn’t matter, it still can have the same negative effects.
But there is hope in breaking these cycles. Using God as a new reference point as to what true Love from a Father looks like, will help break the cycle of abuse not only for the parents but also for the children.
We have a heavy responsibility as parents and especially as fathers to always initiate the love and reconciliation towards our children even in the littlest hurts.
But it is only the Holy Spirit who is able to truly turn our hearts towards our children and our children’s hearts towards us. And this only happens when we see God’s unconditional love towards us. If we do this, it’ll break our hearts in how bad we have treated our children and then put the same unconditional love that God has towards us into our hearts to love our children with.
I want to experience more of God’s unconditional love towards me so that I can then reveal to my family the unconditional love of the Father’s heart, don’t you? Keala
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