Dear Lynette,

My 25 year old daughter is about to be divorced. After a three year marriage she had a one time affair with someone. My daughter has always been a difficult person to get along with. She has a Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde personality and tells many lies. It seems as though she has never grown up. Her husband did give her a second chance but that didn’t work out either. My husband and I are at our wits end. She has moved to an apartment and we are worried for her safety because of the poor choices that she continually makes. Do you have any suggestions as to what we can do or say as her parents?


Answer: Dear Mary,

This is a very difficult situation because you see your daughter’s life disintegrating before you. The trouble is that you have no control over the choices she is making. As parents you want the best for your adult child, but your hands are tied because she is an adult.

What can you do? Actually, I believe there are several things you can do. First of all, prayfor her like never before. God loves her and He loves you. He can intervene in ways we cannot… through His Holy Spirit convicting her, through other people, circumstances and the consequences of the choices she has made.

Secondly, forgive her. That will be hard. But, God shows His grace and forgiveness to sinners all the time. Think about the Prodigal son in Luke 15. He lived life his way, squandered all the inheritance his father gave him, and ended up with nothing, finally living and eating with pigs. It wasn’t until he realized his deprived situation, his losses, until he began suffering that he finally “came to his senses”. It was then that he decided to return to his father, and repent. Pray that the love and grace God already has for your daughter and that God in Christ can show through you will help her turn from wayward living. Now that she is experiencing the loss of her husband, and dealing with inner conflict, guilt and remorse, she may finally wake-up. She needs Christ in her life to give her the power and motivation to change. 2 Cor 5:17 says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (NIV)

Thirdly, be there for her as a friend but not an enabler. Let her take care of her life and responsibilities but be ready to give her a listening ear and a caring heart. Probably, she won’t respond positively to any advice you offer. So wait until she asks you for advice before you give it to her. It may take some time before she’s ready to humbly admit her mistakes. Read about codependency and how to set boundaries in this relationship.

Fourthly, trust the Lord for her. This ties into number one because prayer requires faith. God is faithful and we as parents can learn the greatest lessons of faith during times like these. Ask a friend to pray with you because there is power in prayer. And read the Bible because it contains many examples of how God as our heavenly Father constantly dealt with his wayward children. There are tremendous lessons for us to learn in God’s waiting room.

I would suggest you order the book: What’s Good About Anger? Teen edition. This book will teach you how to be assertive and deal with any conflict with your daughter more effectively. Consider ordering: Love Must be Tough: Proven Hope for Families in Crisis by James Dobson.

I hope you find this helpful!

© copyright 2013 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC