Summary: A message to encourage parents from the story of Amnon and Tamar.

INTRO: Parenting is hard work! To do the job well requires a lot of time and effort and intentionality on the part of moms and dads.

-Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for parents to become increasingly lax about their child-raising responsibilities over time. It’s not uncommon for parents to become less and less attentive with each additional son or daughter.

-Maybe you’ve heard the description of how parents respond differently to their first child, second child and third child.

-When you find out you’re pregnant with your 1st child, you take a Lamaze course and practice your breathing exercises. 2nd child? You don’t bother with Lamaze, because breathing didn’t do a dang thing last time. 3rd child: You ask for an epidural in your 8th month.

-Have you heard these? Mom or Dad picks up their 1st baby at the slightest whimper. 2nd child? You pick up the baby only when the wails threaten to wake the older sibling from a nap. 3rd child: You teach your 3-year-old how to rewind the baby’s mechanical swing.

-Here’s another one. When you leave your 1st child with a sitter, you call home 5 times! 2nd child? Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave your cell phone number. 3rd child: You tell the sitter to call only if she sees blood.

-You moms and dads resonating with these? 1st child: You spend a good deal of every day just gazing at the baby. 2nd child: You spend a good deal of every day watching to make sure your older child isn’t squeezing, poking or hitting the baby. 3rd child: You spend a good deal of every day hiding from your kids.

-Just one more. When the 1st child swallows a coin, you rush the child to the hospital and demand x-rays. 2nd child: You carefully watch for the coin to pass. 3rd child: You deduct it from the their allowance.

Parenting--to do it well--is hard work. Moms and Dads have to stay at it.

-I’m not talking about the hard work of taxiing kids to soccer games, and buying them school clothes, and attending their band concerts, and chaperoning their school dances, and teaching them to drive the family car.

-I’m talking about the harder work of imparting values to them, and shaping their character, and teaching them to know God.

-If we do this well, the Bible says, our children will grow up to become a delight us. However, if we don’t pay close attention to our parenting, our children could grow up to become prodigals...heart breakers.

We’re in the 7th week of an 8-part series on the life of David.

-This series is called RQ--which stands for Relational Quotient--because we’re learning lessons about relationships.

-Sometimes David serves as a good role model for us. Sometimes David serves as a bad role model--an example of what to avoid in relationships.

-Today, we’re learning from one of David’s failures--David and His Prodigal. (2X)

-TURN: II Samuel 13. Outline (tongue-in-cheek): 4 Practices for Producing a Prodigal or 4 Rules for Raising a Rebel. (This is the way David messed up.)

Two quick disclaimers before we get started.

-First: This is not a message for moms and dads whose kids are already prodigals.

-As we learn from David’s parenting mistakes today, I have not doubt that some moms and dads will be saying to themselves: If only I’d had this information when my kids were 5 years old...or 11...or even 16.

-Those of you whose kids are already prodigals--today’s message is probably too late to be of help to you. But a year ago, we did do a special message for you. March of ’08--it was in a series called, I’ve Got a Secret: a message for the parents of prodigals. (Check it out online, or pick up a copy of it on CD at the bookstore.)

-Second (disclaimer): If your son or daughter is already a prodigal--don’t automatically assume that you were a bad parent. Now, you may have made some of the mistakes that David made. If that’s the case, then ask God (and your kids) for forgiveness. (After today’s message you’ll know what you need forgiveness for.)

-However, it’s also possible that you are not to blame for your prodigal kids. The fact is, even great parents occasionally produce prodigals--because once kids reach a certain age, they wear their own faces. They choose to accept or reject their parents’ input.

-So, I don’t want any mom or dad walking out of here (Blackberry, Dekalb) under a load of false guilt today. If you truly share some of the blame--confess it and ask to be forgiven. But if the blame belongs to your kids--stop condemning yourself. Get it?!

#1 Don’t Set a Good Example

I’m going to be doing a lot of story telling, today--because we’re covering several chapters of II Samuel.

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