Leading Hope for Hurting Parents
The Yohe’s are an incredibly unassuming couple. Few people know that their is a national ministry based on their daughters story called, To Write Love on Her Arms . You would also never guess that they have a Sony Picture movie released on the life of their daughter titled To Write Love on Her Arms.
This is because Tom and Dena Yohe’s real focus is on bringing hope to the hurting parents of prodigal children. I had a chance to sit down and have coffee with them and I was blown away by their story and the incredible wisdom they have gained about parenting after years of helping hurting parents.
Tom and Dena are as normal as the day is long. Both were raised in Miami Florida, Tom’s Dad was a Car Salesman and Dena was an only child to a Father who was a Band director. The couple met in College and had the calling of ministry and missions over their life. They pastored several churches, raised a few children and even lived in Russia for a couple of years with Campus Crusade. Though somewhere along the way one of theirs daughters took a turn away from not only the Lord, but what seemed like sanity itself. For years they felt the nagging guilt that they had failed their daughter and God as parents. They began to attend Al-anon meetings to pick up the pieces of their life but during the process felt an incredible new calling on their lives to start a group just for parents who are hurting from the choices that their prodigal children are making.
When I asked Tom and Dena about all the ambiguity in our culture in handling rebellious children they began to share with me some powerful wisdom for parenting a prodigal.
Few parents realize this, but God was the most famous parent of a prodigal child that ever existed, because that prodigal was us in the book of Genesis. If God in his perfection lost children to rebellion, how much more susceptible are we to having a prodigal child? The story doesn’t stop there though, because our story of rebellion with God is also one of redemption. Because of God’s selfless love for us, so many children have turned back and this gives us hope that any prodigal child could turn back as well.
They’re a few things that Tom and Dena are really passionate about teaching parents who participate in their group.
- Problem Ownership: This is the hardest lesson for parents to learn because our empathy for our kids wants to take the blame for their choices, but when you’re dealing with a prodigal child you have to remember that you own your shortcomings but they also have to own theirs. Owning your problems and your child’s only leads to enabling and a tremendous amount of stress.
- Not letting a prodigal child dominate a family: Many times when parents are dealing with a prodigal child they can end up consuming so much time and energy that any other child and even the family pet can end up being neglected!
- Marital Self-Care: What would it look like if you and your spouse had one date night or conversation that didn’t end up talking about the child that is making poor choices? You still have a marriage to care for, even in the midst of a rebellious child.
Tom and Dena encourage any parent in any season of life that is experiencing any kind of prodigal child to attend one of their many support groups for Hurting Parents. You will not only learn more about how to handle your child better, but also learn how to take care of yourself better.