The most solid Christian parents have experienced the pain of watching a child stray from their Christian beliefs. As public education, media and government attack our biblical worldview, young students—who start off very idealistic—are subject to being seduced away from their faith. This is sadly a regular occurrence, leaving many Christian parents heartbroken and wondering what they did wrong.
First of all, understand you can do everything right as a parent, but still witness your child fall away for a period. Satan is cunning and persistent, always seeking to lead people stray. The first step when this occurs is to not be absorbed in self-pity or unnecessary doubt. Continue loving your child, but fight for him or her on your knees, praying. God promises when we raise a child in His ways, though he strays, he will come home. Hold on to that promise, no matter how long it takes.
Second, do not isolate or disown your child. God does not do that to us as His adopted children so we should never give up on our children or stop loving them. Pray together as husband and wife and ask God how you should handle this situation. Seek His wisdom and peace.
Bad choices invite bad consequences. If there are ways to lovingly bring consequences to the table for your child who strays, do so. But never be punitive—make the consequences and your attitude restorative. The goal is not to punish, it is to restore. This is a great opportunity to teach them about choices having consequences. If they stray and reject God, be firm but loving when bringing forth consequences. If we fail to help them see real consequences for bad choices, we simply reinforce a selfish attitude in them.
Never give up on them. Pray for them; talk with them; understand why they have chosen to stray. Deal with them as rational adults, even if they are not acting like one. Understand their departure might be a temporary revolt, or a severe life change. How we handle the conflict goes a long way to determining which will win.
Love your child as God loves us—so much that He will allow bad consequences to bring us back to Him. Commit to praying every day for your children. Read the parable of The Prodigal Son and realize God never abandons us, so never abandon your children. Bring accountability, love and forgiveness together by a move of the Holy Spirit—and lean on God for the understanding and wisdom necessary to lead them back to Jesus.