How Can I Stop My Son?
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."1
"My son was divorced last year," a distraught mother wrote, "after a very unhappy marriage where he was abused. He is now dating a much younger woman who, besides other serious problems, is into smoking pot, uses vulgar vocabulary, is hot tempered, and very impatient with her child. My son wants to marry this woman. It would be a disaster. What can I do to stop him?"
"Dear, Janine (name changed). Sadly, there isn't very much you can do to stop your son marrying this woman if his mind is made up to marry her. The only people we can ever help are those who admit or say, 'I have a problem. I need help.'
"I know it is difficult not to be judgmental, but it is important to realize that if you feel outwardly negative and angry towards this woman and try to stop your son from marrying her, chances are you will drive them closer together and you and them farther apart—and they will become united in their opposition to you. Your goal needs to be to love your son and this woman, while letting them know in a loving way that you don't approve of her lifestyle or their relationship.
"What your son doesn't realize (and this is always difficult for each of us to accept) is that all of us are as sick (or as healthy) as the people we are attracted to. So whatever his friend's problem is, he has a 'meshing' problem. Obviously I don't know your son, but my best guess is that he is super-codependent and is not aware that he is. If this is true, he would not realize that codependency is not love, but unhealthy need. Many people who think they are 'in love' are more 'in need' than they are in love. It's a surefire way to disaster. You might consider purchasing a good book on co-dependency and tactfully ask your son if he would care to read it—but only after you read it first.
"In his first marriage your son may have been the abused one but he, in turn, was an 'abusee' in that he allowed himself to be abused. This is another sign of codependency. He may not admit it, but he urgently needs to get into counseling or he is heading for another disastrous marriage. Tactfully suggest that you think it would be wise for him to do this. This is because those negative issues we fail to resolve, we are destined to repeat.
"If you can assure him of your love no matter what, and ask him if he will also consider praying about this relationship, perhaps he may do so. Ask him to pray for truth—that God will first of all reveal to him the truth about what he may have contributed to the failure of his first marriage, the truth about the relationships he is currently in, and the truth about his friend. If he genuinely wants to know the truth, God will reveal it to him and, once he sees the truth, he will know what he needs to do.
"However, before you ask your son to pray about seeing the truth about himself, be sure to ask God to reveal to you the truth about yourself. If we want others to ask God to do this, we need to model it first for ourselves.
"Most importantly, ask God to help you to be 'as Jesus' to your son, and to his lady friend, and that they, seeing Jesus in you, will want the same for themselves.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, whenever I am in a situation similar to what Janine is in, please help me to love the persons involved, and give me the wisdom to know what to say, the grace to say it in love, and the courage to say it tactfully. And help me to be 'as Jesus' to all involved. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV).