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I Am the Prodigal Mom
By Susan Hines-Brigger


Forgiveness and Second Chances
Living the Lessons Learned
For Teens: Talk It Out
For Kids: We Are Family

When I came back to work this past January after being off for three months on maternity leave, my four-year-old son, Alex, was not happy. In fact, he didn’t talk to me a lot the week before I came back. And when he did, it was to lay on the guilt.

“Who’s going to play with me? Who’s going to snuggle with me and watch cartoons? Who’s going to eat lunch with me?” he would ask.

The silent treatment extended into my first few days back at work, too. But then Friday rolled around. I’m lucky enough to be able to work at home on Fridays so I can spend more time with my kids—and get lots of material for this column. That morning, I was greeted with big hugs and lots of kisses from Alex.

As we snuggled in bed and watched cartoons, he said, “I missed you. I’m glad you’re here.”

All was forgiven.


Forgiveness and Second Chances

The whole situation with Alex reminded me of the biblical story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32)—and why I like it so much. It’s probably one of my favorite Bible stories because it is so real. Sibling rivalry, disappointment, hurt, trust, anger, forgiveness—those are all emotions we can relate to and have experienced at some point and time.

To paraphrase the Geico insurance commercials, that’s both bad news and good news.

The bad news is that at some point in our lives—probably way more than we would like to admit—we are going to be hurt by those we love and we are going to hurt those we care about.

The good news is that our God is a God of forgiveness and second chances.

The story is also a perfect example of what it means to be a parent. From the moment my kids were placed in my arms, I knew that I would love them forever, no matter what they did—just like the father in the Bible story.

But then there is also the problem of sibling rivalry. In the parable, the older brother is not amused by his father’s reaction to his brother’s return. And he lets his father know he thinks it’s not fair. With the addition of our third child, my husband and I are becoming more and more versed in this matter. Now that we are outnumbered, there never seems to be enough time to devote to each child. And, trust me, kids notice.

The fact that all of these issues written about in the Bible are still so relevant today is comforting. It reminds me that I am not alone on this journey of faith—or parenthood.

Living the Lessons Learned

With the Parable of the Prodigal Son for inspiration, here are some suggestions for bringing its lessons to your own life.

• Give someone a second chance, or ask someone to give you a second chance. No one is perfect. We’re all going to make mistakes or bad judgments at some time in our lives. If you’ve done someone wrong or vice versa, try to make amends.

• Forgive someone—for the sake of your health. I recently read about a 2003 study that showed that those who were willing to forgive others had lower blood pressure.

• If you have brothers or sisters, call them “just because.”

• Read and reflect on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In reading it, recognize things within the story that you can work on in your own life. I am always amazed by how well the father seems to handle the situation with both his sons. I often wish I was that rational and understanding with my own kids. Each time I hear the story, it’s a good reminder to try harder.

Next Month: Going to Mass


For Teens: Talk It Out

Being a teenager is a difficult time because you are growing up and trying out your independence, but you’re not quite old enough yet to enjoy the responsibilities that go with being an adult. Because of that, parents and teens often find themselves at odds.

One of the big issues that always seems to come up is trust. In the story of the prodigal son, the father entrusts his son with money and responsibility, only to have his son disappoint him.

Has this happened with you and your parents? If so, what happened? Talk with your parents about ways that you can show your responsibility. If you’ve broken that trust, work to regain it. Talking about issues such as trust and responsibility just might make this bumpy road a little smoother.

For Kids: We Are Family

In the story of the prodigal son, there seems to be a bit of jealousy between the two brothers. Do you have brothers or sisters? Do you always get along? My kids don’t, but we tell them that no matter what, they’ll always be family and should be there for each other. As my older sister says, “I may not always like you, but I’ll always love you.”

If you have siblings, let them know they’re important to you. Do something nice for them such as making them something or doing a chore for them. If you don’t have siblings, let another family member know how much you appreciate being part of his or her family.


Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to

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