Coping With Your Child’s Choices When They Rebel

Coping With Your Child’s Choices: when you have a rebellious, wayward, or prodigal child.  Special Guest Laura Rudder talks about her personal experiences with her 2 children and gives tips for managing the big feelings of parents.

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Coping With Your Child's Choices When They REBEL
Coping With Your Child's Choices When They REBEL
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Transcript for Coping With Your Child's Choices When They Rebel

Coping With Your Child’s Choices: when you have a rebellious, wayward, or prodigal child TRANSCRIPT:

Kristina: Welcome impactful parents. Today, we will talk about how parents can manage their turbulent feelings when their child makes undesirable choices.

Hello, my name is Kristina Campos, founder of The Impactful Parent. Welcome to my Inspire and Learn series, where real parents come on and tell their story of inspiration learning. Because a wise man learns from his mistakes, but a wiser man learns from other people’s mistakes. Today we’re going to learn from my guest speaker, Laura Rudder. Laura has a powerful story about the emotions she endured and overcame as a parent of two prodigal children. She has some good advice and action tips that will help all parents going through the emotional pain of their children’s negative and unexpected life choices. Thank you for being with me today.

Laura: Yes, thank you for having me. It’s a real pleasure.

Kristina: Define what you mean by prodigal, wayward, or rebellious children. I want us all to be on the same page as we start our journey with you today.

Coping With Your Child's Choices: when you have a rebellious, wayward or prodigal child

Coping With Your Child’s Choices: when you have a rebellious, wayward or prodigal child

Laura: The word prodigal is a biblical term. It’s not actually in the Bible, but an easy definition of prodigal is someone who has walked away from their Christian values. A wayward child is behaving or living differently from how they were raised. A rebellious child is intentionally defying their parents and behaving oppositionally.

Kristina: Tell us about your kids and your story.

Laura:  Well, I could say I’m an expert in this field because I have lived that weariness, shame, embarrassment, heartache, and all the different emotions that come with being a parent of a prodigal, wayward, or rebellious child. I have two of them. They were raised in a Christian home and decided to go out and make their own living. I went through the hardship of feeling like you’ve lost your child and now have gained the inner strength to help others.

Kristina: I like to say that expectations are the death of connection. From the moment we’re pregnant, we got this vision in our head about parenting. There is imagery in your head of weddings and babies and family gatherings, and then reality hits in. As your children grow, there are always some faltered expectations. So tell me a little bit about the feelings and emotions you had when your children did not exactly do what you expected them to do.

Laura: I will talk about the main ones. The first is embarrassment.  You try to parent your best, and when you think you must have done something wrong, the embarrassment sets in. You don’t want anybody to know what’s happening in your home. You also don’t feel like you’re able to talk to anybody.

But you have to remember that everyone has problems. People have skeletons in their closets. It feels like everyone knows, but they don’t.

Another emotion I went through was guilt. I questioned so much. What did I do wrong? Could I have prevented this? It is easy to beat yourself up. But I want the audience to remember God gave us free will. Your child has free will. Nobody is a perfect parent.

Another emotion I had was shame. Oh my goodness. Shame is so painful. It’s humiliating. I want parents to remember, not to get stuck in the shame. Be proud of your parenting. Focus on the positives of what your child is doing. Don’t put shame on your shoulders.

Coping With Your Child's Choices: when you have a rebellious, wayward or prodigal child

Coping With Your Child’s Choices: when you have a rebellious, wayward or prodigal child

The fourth emotion is hope. Never give up. Focus on the positive. Pray about it. God knows what’s going on in your life. He sees, he knows. And yes, he does have great plans for you.

Kristina: I don’t doubt that you just mentioned the tip of the iceberg of emotions. There are thousands of feelings happening when you are a parent going through this.  It is all-consuming and heavy-hearted.  It feels like your heart is a rock in the middle of your chest. Why? Because we love our kids so much. We want the best for them.

I like to tell my parents that I work with, “you may have given a life, but it’s not your life to live.” If you control your child too much, they will rebel. You have to let them fall, make mistakes, and learn on their own. We are really here to help support our children and hopefully instill some values in them that last a lifetime.

Laura: That is correct. And these emotions can be even more intense when your child is living in your home.  You will have the need to want to fix everything.  

Kristina: It is always difficult to deal with a child going wayward. It is especially difficult when your child turns away from the family’s core beliefs or values.  Religion is one of those. I know this happened to you.  Do you recommend to parents reading this right now to hold on tight?  Do you throw your claws in and say, “no, you can’t you need to do this,” or do you let them explore and pray that they come back?

Laura: If you’re going to put your foot down, you will get greater resistance. Let them explore. Keep praying. Make your own boundaries about what you will allow inside your home, though. Let them explore but pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, and never give up. It may be years before anything changes, but keep praying. My oldest child is still prodigal. It’s been like this since 2006, and that is a long time! I’m still walking this path. I used to crumble up in a heap and just cry all the time. Now I focus on maintaining a relationship with my child.

Kristina: What action steps can parents take to help themselves in these difficult times and all the emotions running through them?

Laura: Step 1 is: Let it go. You’re not going to fix them. Let God deal with them and release them up to God and say, they’re yours, not mine. I can’t handle this anymore.

Another suggestion is to write things down. Journaling is big. Write down all of your pain. Every emotion, write it down. Write down your disappointment. We all have disappointment. Write down all of your fears too. Then, after everything is out on paper, release them. Give all those emotions up to God.

Coping With Your Child's Choices: when you have a rebellious, wayward or prodigal child

Coping With Your Child’s Choices: when you have a rebellious, wayward or prodigal child

Then start managing the stress. There is so much stress in these situations.  Go to a spa day. Get your nails done. Go for a walk.  Call a girlfriend. Do some activities that make you feel good.

Another thing is, cry. Oh my goodness. It’s okay to cry! It truly is. It’s okay to be a heap on the floor and ugly cry.  Don’t look at the mirror. Just let it out.  And put a time limit on your crying. You don’t want to stay stuck. So cry all you need, but put a time limit on it.

Kristina: Yes, let your emotions out, so they don’t fester and get worse. You need time to cry, but there’s also a time to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and start making those baby steps to move forward. That’s just as important as letting it out.

Laura: Also, consider getting counseling or coaching.  You don’t have to go through this alone.  Get help with managing your emotions and working through the situation.

Kristina:  Now, I’d like to backtrack a little bit and talk again about the 4 big emotions you mentioned earlier.  Please give the audience your advice for dealing with these emotions.

Let’s start with embarrassment. Typically, to rid your mind of embarrassment, you have to change your mindset. You are obviously caring about what other people think if you’re embarrassed. How do we stop caring about what other people think?

Laura: We think everybody knows, and not everybody knows our business. Get it out of your brain that everyone is talking about you. Why should you care? Why should you care what people think? Are they living your life? No. Are they walking in your shoes? No. Remember that everyone has their own stuff they are going through. 

Kristina: How do we alleviate the guilt? Typically, this kind of guilt comes from feeling a sense of responsibility for the child’s actions. How can we alleviate the guilt?

Laura: Remember that your child has free will. You didn’t do the action. Why should you feel guilty about something that you didn’t do? Focus on the positives about your child and the good things they are doing.

Kristina:  And then there’s shame. Shame is a lot like embarrassment.

Laura: Yes, shame and embarrassment go hand in hand. Shame on me. Shame on you. Don’t ever put that on your shoulders. Be proud of your parenting and the person you are.  I am proud of who I am and how I set an example for my child.

Kristina: How do we maintain hope when our child is making us so discouraged?

Laura: As a Christian, I have a lot of Bible verses that I stand on, and I quote. For me, hope is in prayer.  I stand on His word. That is a huge help to me.

Kristina: If people resonate with you, how can they reach you?

Laura: I have a website at

Kristina: If you want to become a more impactful parent, check out my website! I have parenting courses, family coaching, 30-day challenges, and lots of free resources. And if you have an inspiring story that you want to share, please go to, go to the work-with-me page and sign up. But until next time, you got this, parents. I’m just here to help.

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