4 Reasons for Parents Not to Give Up On their Troubled Kids

by | Oct 10, 2022 | what you can do | 10 comments

photo cred. kristina tripkovic on unsplash

“I give up. I can’t do this anymore. It’s too hard. I’m not strong enough for the job. It’s beyond my capacity. I need help.”

This was how I felt about the lady finger palms growing behind our screened in patio. They had to go. They caused big problems. But their roots were too strong and too deep for me to manage on my own. I did my best. I tried hard, so did my husband, but we couldn’t dig them out.

The harder we tried, the more aggravated and frustrated we became. Ugh.

To be honest, there have been times I’ve felt this way about my troubled child. You may have too. Maybe today you’ve almost reached your give-up point.

Getting to this place about your own son or daughter feels terrible. But sometimes it’s hard not to despair. You fill in the blank with your child’s issue(s)____________. The list might be long. No one wants to quit on their own flesh and blood.

Why shouldn’t we give up? These are the 4 reasons my husband and I chose not to:

4 Reasons Not to Give Up

1. Because God is a big God – bigger and greater than our child’s problems.

2. Because God understands and cares – about you and your child, because he loves us.

3. Because God is a miracle-working God – it’s never too late for your child. They can change. They can recover, stop their destructive behaviors, and find their way back to wholeness, to a healthy relationship with you and the family, and most of all, with God. This was a long slow process (over 10 years) for our daughter, but I’m seeing this happen.

4. Because you never know what tomorrow could bring -God wants us to keep trusting Him even though the circumstances may be bad. He’s still there and can bring good out of it all.

As you bring your child to God’s throne of grace, I can’t promise a certain outcome, but I can promise he’ll help you. He’ll walk the rugged journey with you wherever it may lead.

And he’ll never stop trying to reach your child. So please don’t give up. Tomorrow is a brand new day when anything is possible.

A dear friend once told me, “As long as they’re still breathing, there’s still hope.”

I never forgot that. I hope you won’t, either.

This Scripture always strengthens me:

“May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help. . . and grant you support . .  may he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed . . . may the Lord grant all your requests . .  . Some trust in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God . .  we rise up and stand firm.” (Psalm 20:1-5, 7) NIV

When we feel like giving up, Lord, help us remember these 4 reasons not to and help us keep trusting you. God is a big God, he undertands and cares, he is the worker of miracles, and you never know what tomorrow might bring. Amen.


  1. Angela

    I so need encouragement right now. Our son has consistently been in trouble for 6 years, since he was 17. Long story, but after a year of sober living in a rehab, he got arrested again. Went back to our home state, which we moved from to help remove temptation, to check in with probation. He knew where he could get spice and that’s what he did. Ended up high on spice, driving and now charged with DUI. He was just starting a 5 year felony probation sentence where all charges would be dropped if he stayed out of trouble. He has such an obsession with being able to smoke pot again, he used spice as a substitute since it does not appear in a drug test. Our family needs prayer. Husband and I can hardly put one foot in front of the other. Son is so sick and admits that he is messed up in the head, but thinks being able to smoke pot again would solve the problem. The devil has a foothold on his mind. It’s as if he is 2 different people. He is such a loving thoughtful kid, but loses control every time he gets close to being free from his legal troubles. This is not the first time he has sabotaged himself. I know God is in charge and truly believe he has plans for our son. I believe that’s why he continually gets caught. God wants him for a bigger purpose. We are holding on to our faith and only a miracle could change the expected outcome, prison. Thank you for what you do. God Bless!

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      We are so sorry for your painful journey, Angela. How disheartening to see your son sabotage himself over and over again. I am praying now against the schemes of the Evil One who seeks to steal, kill and destroy those with so much potential for his kingdom. May God deliver your son from his addiction and restore him to sanity. And may he flood you and your husband’s hearts with the comfort and strength you need to keep going, trusting him. May He fulfill all the plans he has for your son, in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.

      “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27b).

    • Angela

      Thank you so much for that prayer. You are doing wonderful work for the kingdom of God and are proof that something beautiful can be born from something very ugly and painful. Prayers for you to feel the overwhelming peace and love in the arms of God today. God Bless your family! Angela

  2. Jill A Nodonly

    I am the parent of a 26 year old opiate addict. Him and his girlfriend had their own place for a year and a half. Their “friend” offered them a pill to feel good. To make a long story short, it wasn’t long until they had a $150 per day habit each. Another friend told them it’s much cheaper to get heroin, two gel caps for $20 where we live. Snorting led to shooting up and eventually they lost their apartment. This led to the worst 3 years of my life, stealing and constant lying, putting him in rehab, him overdosing 2 weeks out of rehab and being saved by his brother. Our first child was basically ignored while the eventual addict got all his fathers attention because he played sports and we spent plenty keeping him involved in sports, thinking it would keep him out of trouble. After doing everything to try and help someone that didn’t want help including finding Suboxene on the street to keep him from being sick. We cut ties for the 2nd time, I allowed him back in the house long enough to drop off things he wanted to store. He was due to take a train to another state for long term help but he had to get some dope. He dropped a capsule in the basement and messaged his brother to find it. For some reason his brother decided to snort a small amount. Luckily my husband and I came home in time to hear strange noises from his locked room, I got in and he was laying in a pool of sweat struggling to breathe. A call to 911 and CPR and quick response by the medic saved his life. At the hospital he told us where it was and I was amazed that the gel cap was almost full. One tiny line almost killed my son, it was the 3rd time he tried it. The first time was a year earlier when he broke his arm and was out of pain pills, his brother, the addict, girlfriend gave it to him the first time. If I didn’t hear him gagging, I would’ve found him dead the next day. The addict keeps messaging me with sob stories telling me he has been clean since he left. After 3 years of lies I’ve lost the last bit of trust I had. As much as it hurts, he isn’t going to stop until he hits rock bottom.We aren’t well off but I was lucky enough to be a stay at home home, we’ve been married for 30 years and have four children together. Our kids didn’t get everything they wanted but they got our time and attention but I feel like I’ve failed. Thanks, it felt good getting it off my chest even is no one reads this. Best wishes to everyone experiencing the same problems.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Thank you for commenting. Your story and many others are filled with pain, hardship and disappointment to say the least. We are deeply sorry for what you and your husband are going through. We love our children and want the best for them yet sadly they seem bent on destroying their lives. It’s so easy to compare our situation with others who aren’t walking down this painful path, whose kids are doing great. Please, do not beat yourself up over what you do not have control over or feel like a failure. As parents, we almost always will have to battle with these feelings. We take so much responsibility for what our kids do. There are two key passages in the Bible that have helped us with this feeling of failure. Let me paraphrase them. In Genesis the first few chapters give the creation account. Notice God pronounces everything “good.” Adam and Eve are placed in a perfect environment. Think of all the temptations they don’t have to deal with in their culture. God gave them ONE boundary. Eat of every tree but one. Have a great time and enjoy the fruit of the whole garden, just don’t eat the one. Adam and Eve had no sin nature drawing them toward disobedience. But, in all the good and plentiful around them and with a loving Creator for wisdom and guidance, they rebelled. What did God do wrong? Now look at Adam and Eve as parents. Two sons and one murders the other. Adam and Eve are living in the constant pain and grief of having lost one son to a murderer and then having to live with that murderer in their home and family! You don’t have to read far into human history to see how messed up life can get with kids. You are not alone. Even God, the perfect “Father” has rebellious kids by the millions and their getting worse with time. My conclusion from this is that perfect parenting is NOT a guarantee of outcome with our kids. Even if it were possible for us to parent perfectly, and it’s not, we aren’t given the promise our kids will follow our guidance. Another passage for you and your husband to read is Isaiah 5:1-4. You can read it and draw your own conclusions. I think it too has the same message, “you can do it well and get unexpected results.

      We are glad you wrote, poured yourself onto the page and got the feelings out. You, your husband and family are in our prayers. Please also consider the Prayer for Prodigals website for additional support.

      PS We don’t know if you want your comments posted or kept private. We will approve the comments if you want them public or just keep it pending if you would rather not publicly post.

  3. Linda Bean

    I’m so disappointed and ashamed of our girls. Both were adopted as infants. We were so happy to become parents. They were our greatest joy. The oldest is almost 38, and started with drugs at 13. Has caused us so much hurt it would take too long to write it. Currently she’s receiving meth counseling….but I doubt she expects to get off drugs. The younger one, at 33 has 3 children, all with different fathers. She married the last one 7 yrs. ago, but now wants a divorce. He has been a father to her oldest two kids. He wants to work things out; she says we don’t know how awful he is. She’s drinking, got a duii, has been staying out all night leaving her 3 kids alone (ages 15, 12 and 7)while he worked nights…and tells us he’s to blame. We worry about the kids, if she’ll lose their home……and what this will mean for us. We’re 70 and 72, married 49 yrs., are we to pick up her pieces again because we love the kids and don’t want them to suffer?? Both of our girls walked away from the Lord and opened the door to witchcraft. We’re tired and depressed. I feel like we’re horrible parents to turn out two girls like this. I don’t want to hear glowing reports of anyone else’s children when mine are such a mess! (I know that’s horrible, please forgive me.) Thanks for letting me vent; I have no one to talk to. I wish my mother was here. 🙁

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      We’re so sorry to hear about your daughters and the pain they have and are bringing you. We are in our mid and upper 60’s and it’s the last thing we expected we would be dealing with at these ages. It’s even more complicated with grandchildren involved. Our hearts go out to you. We too have felt the guilt, embarrassment and shame over our rebellious child. Please allow us to guide you to two Bible passages that may bring comfort to you.

      Read the Genesis account of creation and about Adam and Eve. Realize God put them in the perfect environment and gave them ONE boundary. They rebelled against God’s one boundary. They had the whole garden to meet their needs and disobeyed. Also, Adam and Eve had two sons. One murdered the other. Imagine the grief they had to deal with over Abel’s death in addition to having their other son as a murderer. Wow, they didn’t do anything wrong.

      Also read in Isaiah 5:1-4. Here is a powerful witness to the fact that dong all the right things does not guarantee right results when you are dealing with people. In this passage God even asks, “What more could I have done than I have done?” Yet when he expected good grapes from the choice fines, he got soar grapes.

      Linda, God has millions of rebellious children, He is a hurting parent like you and your husband and He is PERFECT. Please let go of guilt and shame. Your daughters made their choices and continue to do so. That is NOT your responsibility.

      We too know what it’s like to be around other parents who are not experiencing what we do. It’s hard when they are giving glowing reports about college and careers and we are trying to find treatment centers etc. It’s a conversation stopper isn’t it? Over time, a long time sadly, we realized we wouldn’t want these other parents to go through what we go through and it’s my responsibility to learn to “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.” It’s hard for them to grasp what we feel and experience and if their kids are doing wonderful they can get proud and judgmental about their parenting. Forgive them, while not allowing yourself to grow bitter or resentful or cynical toward them.

      If you are interested, Dena sends out encouraging emails to parents and you can decide how frequent you want them. We’re sorry your mother is not here for you and it is a lonely path we are on. However, you are not alone and God is a hurting parent too. He understands more than we can know. He loves you and your daughters. Draw close, not away from God in your pain. He knows how to comfort the brokenhearted and even if we don’t see it, we know He has not forgotten your daughters and He is in pursuit of them. Trust in this by faith. Sorry if this is long, God bless.

  4. Linda Bean

    Thank you so much for your answer to me. Sometimes it’s just so hard to bear, yet we’ve dealt with this since 1992, one thing after another, and God has brought us through! And I know He hasn’t abandoned us, yet it so hurts. Thank you for your understanding and compassion, and for reminding me that there are MANY of us out there. No one can understand unless they’ve walked thru another’s problems. I’m so glad I found you…now I feel I have somewhere to run! I’m going to read Isaiah, and I’d never really thought about Adam and Eve and how they felt! Thank you and God bless. 🙂

  5. Julianne

    This encouragement has come at the “right time.” I need godly wisdom. I’ll pray this Scripture over my daughter. Her life is so worth bringing to Jesus continuously until He completely heals and delivers her. I’m committed to her and love her forever. Thank you for your ministry. The battle belongs to the Lord, in Jesus name.

    • Tom and Dena Yohe

      Julianne, thank you for your comment and yes, may the Lord give you his wisdom. May he lead and guide you in your intercession on your daughter’s behalf. May he move in a mighty way and bring her to complete healing and deliverance, in Jesus’ name. Be blessed as you continue to love her and fight on your knees! You are not alone in the battle – it belongs to the Lord!