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

        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

    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

    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

      1. How would you characterize the attitude of the

      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

    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

    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

      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

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

      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

    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.