In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father represents God and teaches us some valuable lessons concerning parenting. Christian fathers need to imitate the example of the father in this parable.
The father is patient: The boy had been gone a long time, long enough for a famine to ravish the land, yet the father waited patiently. Indeed patience is a virtue all Christians should possess (Galatians 5:22). But oh how necessary it is in our homes! We need to learn to be patient with our children, knowing that they have much to learn. We must realize that they are not miniature adults. There is much to learn, and some lessons must be learned the hard way. We cannot learn the lessons for them, nor can we teach them. The prodigal son had to learn some hard lessons, and the father allowed it. Likewise we must learn patience. Fathers, how patient are you with your children as they falter along life’s path?
The father is loving: When he saw the boy coming, while he was still a long way off, the father ran to him and hugged and kissed him. He doesn’t ask him where he had been or what he had been doing. There is no lecture saying, “I told you so” or “You should have known better.” There is no “I hope you’ve learned your lesson” speech. There is simply the love of a father and the joy that his son has returned. We don’t know what the boy may have expected, perhaps he delayed his return because he was too ashamed to face his father. But the love of his father removed his fear. “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins,’” (1 Peter 4:8). Fathers, how loving are you when your children make mistakes?
The father is forgiving: His actions demonstrated it. The boy was ready to ask to be made like one of his fathers hired servants, yet his father did not let him finish his plea. Once the son had repented he was restored to his original place. Not only that, but they have a party to celebrate his return! We need to learn to be forgiving of those who have done wrong. We should focus not on the wrong they have done but on the joy that they have repented. So much sorrow could be avoided if we will simply learn to do this. “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you,” (Ephesians 4:32). Fathers, how forgiving are you of your children when they do wrong?
The father has his priorities in the right place: The most important thing was not that his son had sinned, nor that he had wasted his inheritance. Neither was it important that he’d caused his father untold grief. The most important thing was that his son was home. Material things can be replaced, sorrows can be forgotten, and sin can be forgiven, but a soul lost can never be restored. We need to keep in mind the inherent value of the soul. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36,37). Fathers, where are your priorities?