When browsing a previous issue of Activated, I came across the following quote by Dr. Bob Pedrick: “In the parable that Jesus told about the prodigal son,1 do you remember how the father acted when the boy returned home? Did he run up and sniff his breath to see if he had been drinking? Did he comment on how poorly he had cared for his clothes? Did he criticize his straggly hair and dirty fingernails? Did he inquire about the balance left in his checking account? Of course not. He hugged the boy—the hug of loving acceptance.”

Most of us remember the parable’s general message of the prodigal son’s repentance and his father’s forgiveness, but this quote describes something even more powerful. The father actually runs to greet and embrace his son before his son has the time to apologize or to try to explain his appearance. At no point does the father show any interest in dwelling on these things, or even trying to draw a lesson from his son’s misfortunes—to help him do better next time, of course.

Through this story, Jesus was issuing a call to all of us who’ve drifted away from God to return to His side, but He was also describing the love a parent should have—unconditional and complete—even in the tough times, and even when our children have grown into their own lives and are responsible for their own choices.

The changing relationship between parents and children is covered in an interesting way via two articles by frequent contributor Marie Alvero. The first article was written 15 years ago when Marie and her husband were young parents, and the second one was written a few months ago.

I had a similar blast from the past when I came across a reflection I’d written on my daughter’s first birthday party. Reading it again, it’s amusing how I thought one year had gone by so quickly. Today that shy little toddler in a pink dress is now a brilliant tween, and I’m left wondering where 12 years went. Parenting is a work in progress, and we’re always going to wish we were better at it, but hopefully I can continue to improve and become more like the prodigal son’s father in the story.

With God’s help, I know I can. And so can you!

  1. See Luke 15:11–24.